Author: Julie Kagawa (author website | blog)
Release Date: May 1st 2012 by Harlequin Teen Australia
Age Group: Young Adult/Adult
Someone call the IUCN—Vampires are swiftly becoming an endangered species in young adult literature. After all, there are only so many times a teenage vampire can chill out in high school before raising a few eyebrows, and readers and publishers alike demand something different. Well, in Julie Kagawa’s The Immortal Rules, readers will get what they are craving, and bloodsuckers are most definitely in no danger of extinction…
In a future world, Vampires reign. Humans are blood cattle. And one girl will search for the key to save humanity.
Allison Sekemoto survives in the Fringe, the outermost circle of a vampire city. By day, she and her crew scavenge for food. By night, any one of them could be eaten.
Some days, all that drives Allie is her hatred of them. The vampires who keep humans as blood cattle. Until the night Allie herself is attacked—and given the ultimate choice. Die or become one of the monsters.
Faced with her own mortality, Allie becomes what she despises most. To survive, she must learn the rules of being immortal, including the most important: go long enough without human blood, and you will go mad.
Then Allie is forced to flee into the unknown, outside her city walls. There she joins a ragged band of humans who are seeking a legend—a possible cure to the disease that killed off most of humankind and created the rabids, the mindless creatures who threaten humans and vampires alike.
But it isn't easy to pass for human. Especially not around Zeke, who might see past the monster inside her. And Allie soon must decide what—and who—is worth dying for.
The Story:In New Covington, a city ruled by vampires, humans can choose to be 'registered', well fed blood cattle, or starve. Allison Sekemoto lives on the fringes, unregistered, and scrapes by a meager existence scavenging for food.
That is until she's attacked by 'rabids'-- mindless vampires, who share more in common with zombies than the Salvatores--and offered a choice by an unlikely savior: die, or become a vampire, the thing she hates most. Well, it's really not a question. Allie is a survivor, and if she has to survive as a vampire, so be it. She stays with her vampire mentor, Kanin, learning her new way of 'life', and to fight, until she is forced to flee.
Joining a group of humans searching for an almost mythical vampire-free city, Allie must try pass as human, and learn for herself what kind of monster she will become... which is made even harder as she finds herself breaking one of the first rules she learned in her undeath: never get attached to humans...
Thoughts:Believe it or not, Vampire dystopians are nothing new. Take Daybreakers, with Ethan Hawke and Sam Neill. Flash back to I Am Legend, and its unfortunate adaptations. More recently, we have Priest. Yet Kagawa takes a supernatural creature that's been done to death all over again, and gives it, well, a third life—a life after afterlife, perhaps. Kagawa builds a world of crumbling cities, deadly darkness, and to quote another reviewer, one “full of people whose humanity is slipping in favour of a harsh survivalist mentality." A world of monsters both supernatural, and very much flesh-and-beating-heart humanity, stripped to a cold, dark core.
It’s in this world we find Allison Sekemoto: street-rat human, blood-hungry ‘monster’, and in both incarnations, still just a lost girl struggling to find her place in the world. While a long, hard physical journey consumes many of the book’s hefty 451 pages, the real focus of the story is a journey far more insular: Allie’s journey towards not just accepting, but embracing herself. Learning she has a choice in the monster she chooses to be.
Allie is tough, callous, and she makes no apologies. She is a survivor, and survival really is of the fittest in her world. Yet she grows over the course of The Immortal Rules, not only becoming a tougher, more ‘badass’ girl, but a kinder, more selfless one. In a world where selflessness can see you dead, or starved, Allie is an oddity, and perhaps doesn’t even realise it herself. In the change from human to vampire, she struggles to cling to her humanity—the essential goodness, and innate compassion we define as ‘human,’ for the Immortal Rules is nothing if not a fascinating study in ‘human’ nature—but it is interesting to note she is perhaps more ‘human’ as a monster, than she ever was with a pulse, and a warm, beating heart.
While certainly there, and indeed a key, beautifully done part of the plot, the romance in The Immortal Rules is subtle. It's an organic thing, slowly growing throughout the book, but it's not its focus. This is Allie's story. Her growth. Her choices. Her monster. But her relationships, whether romantic, warm, cold, or the fascinating dynamic she shares with her mentor, are crucial and compelling.
The Verdict:The Immortal Rules is many, very exciting, things. It's action packed, it's cinematic, it's romantic and exhilarating, but it is also something more: A quality of storytelling and strength of narrative that lift it above 'just another' vampire book, or indeed, as trends lean more and more in the direction, another dystopian. Kagawa's storytelling has a depth, and her world building scope, that lend The Immortal Rules a decidedly grown-up feel. Not in the sense that it has only adult allure—though it is certainly a novel that has the cross market appeal of the likes of The Hunger Games—but it is a story with a depth and maturity; one that is fleshed out and fully grown, and is the work of a writer comfortable and confident in her ability—and rightly so. Kagawa tells her story with the easy grace and unflinching honesty of a master, and it would not be so hard to compare it to the likes of Suzanne Collins, or an early-era-Obernewtyn Isobelle Carmody.
Bleak, cinematic, utterly compelling and—most excitingly—new, The Immortal Rules brings some fresh blood to the YA scene… exactly what those lurky vampires were waiting for. If you thought vampires were safely buried in their crypts, staked, or put out in the sun, think again. The Immortal Rules is a very different take on the parasitic creatures of the night, and it's not a romanticized, sanitized version, either. Sharing something more akin with zombie horror and Mad Max than a teen romance, The Immortal Rules is a dark, gritty study in human nature. After all, what separates us from monsters, from the things that go bump in the night? You're about to find out.
Books in This Series:
- The Immortal Rules (May 2012)
- As Yet Untitled (expected 2013)