, original review at Winged Reviews
Thank you to Harlequin Teen and NetGalley for providing and advanced copy of this book for review!
I have to start this off by saying that Julie Kagawa blew my expectations away. In this saturated genre, I never expected such a refreshing take on the vampire story, and I truly enjoyed this book.
The Immortal Rules takes place in a dystopian future where vampires rule over cities and humankind have been all but wiped out by the Red Lung disease. Humans have little choice—either become a marked as a registered 'pet' used for feeding, or choose to be free but have to fend for yourself. Allie Sekemoto is one of these unregistered humans, constantly living in hunger and facing the harsh realities of life in New Covington. She's tough, she's street smart and she would rather starve than take a vampire’s mark.
One night when Allie wanders out of the city walls to find food, she is attacked by Rabids (zombie-like vampires who cannot control their hunger) and left for dead. A mysterious vampire comes and offers her a choice—either die or become like him. I really admire Allie's self-preservation instinct here, even though she knew she would struggle living as something she hates. It's refreshingly different from so many other heroines that want to throw themselves into danger, not appreciating the value of their lives or thinking about the consequences. The entire turning scene was so grim it made me feel ill and I attribute that to great writing. This book does not shy away from the unpleasant.
Kagawa excels as always at world-building, this time by adding her own twists to vampire and zombie lore. There is nothing romanticised in this book in the slightest. The environment is extremely harsh and it’s survival of the fittest where it matters most—in the real world. Despite a few slow-moving sections in the middle, the majority of the book was paced well. There were so many plots and reveals throughout the story that I couldn’t put the book down. I just had to find out more about the intriguing future they all lived in.
The book follows Allie’s journey of discovery as she learns more about why things are the way they are in her world. She is an extremely well-developed heroine. We see her dealing with her internal struggles, such as coming to grips with her morality versus her need to survive and learning cruel lessons about leaving her past behind. She’s flawed, brave and you can’t help but root for her all the way through the book.
The supporting cast is equally great. Kanin, Allie’s vampire sire, acts as a ‘sexy Yoda’ (never thought I would use those two words together), mentoring the newly turned Allie. He clues Allie in about the state of the world, and teaches her about how to sate her blood lust and how to defend herself (katanas, baby). He also has a deep backstory himself, and I’m looking forward to more of him in the books to come.
And of course the world isn’t complete without a love interest—good, kind, human Zeke, a God-fearing natural leader with not a trace of arrogance about him. It’s so rare to find a male character in young adult fiction that isn’t afflicted with ‘I’m too emo for my shirt
’ syndrome. Sure he had his own struggles and doubts to contend with, but it was mainly about the welfare of others, not just himself. It was a pleasure to see his relationship with Allie develop slowly, convincingly and a little bittersweetly as both of them had very realistic notions about where their attraction could go. So refreshing.
I was also extremely satisfied with the ending. To me, there was a nice balance of wrapping up the current story and leaving other things in the air to keep you wanting more from the sequels. Which I definitely do. Overall, a fantastic read!