The Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa
Release Date: April 24, 2012
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
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.
Just when we thought that the vampire trend was over, Julie Kagawa announced her new novel, The Immortal Rules. It was funny because so many people were full of vampire-fatigue and so sick of the entire thing. Seeing the same story regurgitated over and over again and seeing every book compared to Twilight can get pretty tiring pretty fast.
This book is possibly the most refreshing and genius take on the trend that I have come across and restores my faith in it. I'm not even sure whether it can be called a take on the trend because it takes something tiring and made it completely new. This book - instead of being the conclusion to the trend as I expected - may just start it up again.
The Immortal Rules focuses on a girl named Allison. In a world crawling with bloodthirsty and vicious vampires, where nobody stays out after dark, and where starving is considered doing well, she is used to fending for herself. Although she belongs to a gang of other teens, she knows that they would just as easily turn their backs on her if it meant the difference between life and death. The sad part is that she's used to that. Allison has been told for her entire life just how awful and heartless the vampire race is, and it's been ingrained in her.
Allie is a part of the Fringe, the poor community outside of the Inner City, where the vampires live in their glitzy buildings. People rarely get invited to the Inner City, and then, it's only the most talented and valuable of the humans. Allison learns to scavenge for food, eating whatever she can get her hands on even if it's rotted because it could mean the difference between living and dying.
Going outside the city is forbidden and dangerous, with terrifying rabids stalking the ruins outside. When Allie and her gang are attacked by the rabids and she finds herself dying. It is then that she is offered a choice by a mysterious vampire master: die, or be turned. She chooses immortality.
As if turning into the monster she fears and hates with every fiber of her being isn't enough, she soon is forced outside of the city, where she meets up with a group searching for the mysterious Eden, a place where vampires and rabids don't exist. she learns that there is something much larger than her survival brewing on the horizon. Everything is at stake during this tantalizing novel filled with tension and electrifying action.
The first thing that hit me about The Immortal Rules was that it was completely and utterly honest. It didn't skate around the subject or try to avoid the brutal truth. It was also realistic in the way that it painted the vampires and how human nature worked in that world. Betrayal was actually common because people turned on each other because of self-preservation.
Chances are, most people would choose based on the knowledge that they already had - that vampires were soulless, terrible people who didn't have any humanity left - instead of taking a chance and putting their lives on the line. It was this reality that tormented Allie throughout the book because of the memories of her old life and having to hide her true nature for fear of being alienated.
A big part of the book was Allison being cut off by her few relationships. Some of them were ones that she had expected to end as soon as a better offer came up but some were ones that she was shocked and hurt about. It was actually a huge part of her character development because she was hurt and everything made her stronger. Her vampire transformation meant that she saw things in a different way and learned just how misunderstood some of the vampires were. Her transformation made her reflect upon her actions and thoughts that she had fostered for years, and some of her walls came down.
Allie was both a much more strong and vulnerable person at the end of the book. She managed to develop relationships and lose relationships and it changed her irrevocably. Her emotional transformation was just as potent as her physical one, and with every experience came a change.
A big issue with the vampires that I'm actually incredibly interested in nature vs. nurture. People were scared of the vampires because they knew about the soulless and heartless vampires that stalked the streets looking for prey and weren't willing to take a chance on the others. Allie herself had believed in this for years but when she had the chance to survive instead of dying, she chose being a vampire. The people who judged her probably would have done the same.
Anyways, the people on the Fringe had been used to never going out after dark and immediately distrusting all of the vampires. Part of it is pride, and part of it is true, but nobody is willing to take a chance on the vampires that may actually turn out to be good. Also, a lot of the people in the Fringe have never seen a vampire. There are gangs and groups but in reality, everybody is on their own because nobody will risk their life. It was a depressing life to read about but it was also really interesting.
There were plenty of vampires that delighted in killing humans and drinking blood and others who repressed the urge. Allie herself struggled with retaining her humanity and we learned so much about her from that process. While Julie Kagawa excels at making beautiful, plot-driven novels, her character development was really stunning in this book as well.
Is it weird if I say that I was really a fan of Julie Kagawa not being afraid to kill off her characters? I was really attached to them, and I cried like a baby when they died, but it was so realistic and brutally honest that I couldn't help but love it when she did that. In a book like this, there's bound to be tragedy and I admire Julie Kagawa's guts for being able to do that to her characters. It's really sad killing off a character but it's really one of the most important moments in a storyline.
It says something about her bravery with this. The Immortal Rules was a very risky book to pull off and only Julie Kagawa could have attempted something like this and manage to rank it among my favorites. Chilling developments shattered misconceptions that I had built throughout the book and made me question everything that I thought I knew.
The destruction and devastation of the world that Julie Kagawa created was breathtaking. Her descriptive language wasn't flowery but I could see the jagged edges of the building and the gaunt figures of the rabids. Wow! Just wow! It wasn't superfluous, but easily painted a picture of the surroundings and the emotion in the environment that Allie was in.
It reminded me of the Hunger Games world, although instead of the control, it was complete chaos. By what I mean when I say that, I mean that there was that same sense of despair and there was a rule of conduct that was understood but not said. It had the same dark feel but there was still hope. And like Suzanne Collins did with Mockingjay, it wouldn't have been real enough if things turned out well, or if it was happy, but for some reason, it still left me feeling satisfied. Like I said earlier, Julie Kagawa is honest, and I love that in a book even when I don't agree with what has to happen.
The world building! Oh, the world building! Everything about this book made me want to completely fangirl out! Julie Kagawa builds a terrifying world of deceit and survival and it was incredible. A large part of the book was world building, and although that was rather slow towards the beginning, there was a need for it. The next book should be much more fast-paced because of the fantastic world building done in the first book. At first, I was confused by the customs and unspoken rules of the world, but as I read more and more, I understood. It just was really well done and written.
This book also did a lot of genre-blending. One of my favorite books is filled with genre-blending (Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly) and the dystopian/post-apocalyptic genre goes hand and hand with the paranormal. It was really excellently done. Most post-apocalyptic books like this were with zombies instead of vampires and it was a very refreshing change. Everything about this book blew me away!
Another element that I found interesting in the book was that there was a lot of...philosophy. Instead of simply being a rough-and-tumble book that had gore and excitement, it explored what it means to have humanity and so many themes were interwoven. Whether they were intentional or just snuck into the story, I don't know, but I loved stopping to think about deeper things throughout the book as they were bought up. There were so many questions about human nature and nature vs. nurture and power struggles. While I do love a rollicking read, I also love it when a book addresses other matters or subtly hints at a theme. It may be my own little quirk but Julie Kagawa did so in an extremely enthralling way.
My thoughts at the beginning of the book were completely different by the end. I saw all of the characters in new ways because of the experiences that they had been through, saw the world in an entirely new light, and was left feeling completely alive. My mind was racing; my heart was beating at double time. I was at the edge of my seat, unable to put the book down, and the ending tapered off perfectly but left me aching for more. In a way, the book itself reminded me of Eve by Anna Carey but we didn't experience any of the weakness nor frustration that I felt with that book with The Immortal Rules. Everything was strong and powerful. The impact that I felt when it ended was enormous.
To summarize, Julie Kagawa has created an addictive read full of twists and shattering developments that change everything as you read. Her exuberant risk-taking pays off and her bravery and bold writing takes the book to an entirely new level. We see a new side of Julie Kagawa and it was fantastic. The exciting plot line hints at a deeper meaning and the new take on vampires is extremely refreshing in a market saturated with one type of vampire book. Parts of the book were a bit rough, but I expect that this series will go far and I will be eagerly awaiting the next installment. The characters were extremely well developed and realistic, the pacing was brilliant, and I was left satisfied by the end of the book.
Recommended for anybody who loves: Eve; Released by Megan Duncan; Crusade; The Morganville Vampires; Julie Kagawa; brutal honesty; straightforward writing; post-apocalyptic fiction; horror; etc,.
Possible book club questions:
How did Alison's perception of vampires change when she became one. Was this hypocrisy?Alison made the decision to become a vampire in a life-or-death situation. A person's true character is shown when he or she is in a life-or-death situation. What did this choice show about Alison?Alison was very aggressive towards other people towards the end of the book. How much of this came from her vampire nature and how much came from her personality?Compare and contrast the vision of vampires seen in many recent YA books with the vision that Julie Kagawa paints in this book.