Tuesday, May 22, 2012
Review: The Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa
Tags: YA, paranormal, dystopian, vampires
Allison Sekemoto survives as a fierce, unregistered scavenger in a world where master vampires have laid claim over entire cities and keep the humans in line with scheduled blood-letting. However, tragedy strikes, and Allie is forced to become the monster she has always hated. Her creator, Kanin, is a vampire with a dark, mysterious past and many secrets, the biggest one of which drives Allie out of the city, to survive outside on her own.
Allie meets up with a group of humans on their way to find the rumored Eden, an island city untainted by vampires, where humans live as they did before. But Allie can never fully belong among the humans, no matter how nice Zeke is to her. Society will force her to always remember who she is now, and the situation will arise when she needs to acknowledge just how much of her is human…and how much is vampire.
Despite the oversaturation of the market with vampire stories, I’m still constantly on the lookout for something fresh. Julie Kagawa brings a refreshing grittiness to vampires in her new paranormal-dystopian series, starting with THE IMMORTAL RULES, which, while far from perfect, is still an enjoyable read for the forgiving, vampire-crazy reader type.
I like that Kagawa’s vampires don’t glitter. They don’t try desperately to mimic humanity for the sake of a romantic story. They are manipulative and volatile and scary as all hell—and thus, when the uncommon vampire displays some semblance of human emotion or empathy, you know it’s because of the character, not just for the sake of a story.
THE IMMORTAL RULES is also written in a controlled yet smooth-flowing manner, keeping a tight rein on potentially overdramatic situations, and yet moving the story along from event to event, dialogue to dialogue, in a natural-feeling way. It was nearly effortless—at least for me—to become immersed in the story. It’s not fast-paced, per se (to be quite honest, I have no idea how this book managed to run longer than 400 pages; that number of pages was probably not all necessary but it didn’t deter from my reading experience either), but it is easy to read.
I was quite keen on the first part, where Allie learns about being a vampire and begins to see her city in a different light, but where THE IMMORTAL RULES stumbled for me began when Allie met the humans. There is no nice way to say this, because the human characters in this book are such clichés. There’s a mean girl whose hatred of Allie is unfounded—no, really, I’m not even being overly subjective here, the girl heard that Allie came from a city and was all like, “You beeyotch”…uh, wut?—whose main purpose for being in the story seemed to be to make readers even more sympathetic to Allie’s difficult situation…but if you liked her enough in the first part of the book, then you already are sympathetic to her. There’s a preacher-esque leader who speaks in the “destiny-speak” of adults who think they know everything. Even Zeke, as a love interest, was bland in his perfection: the guy is nice to everyone, likes Allie even though she’s sullen and secretive, and—this is my favorite—engages in very lame banter with his male BFF. I’m telling you, the humans come straight out of a CW beach town drama. I found myself groaning and wishing we were back in Allie’s old city (with Kanin, he of the badassery and no-nonsense nature).
I’m not sure how there came to be such a disjuncture between the effortless grittiness of the first part of the book and the forced camaraderie/backstabbing/bravado of the rest. The villain talks like a done-thrice-over villain from a 1940s comic. Science gets pushed to the wayside for the sake of good triumphing over evil (the wet gun, the wet gun!). My best guess is that Kagawa had a great setting and the ideas for sequels and didn’t allow her characters to get from Point A to Point B without a whole lot of interference in characterization from her.
Despite my frustrations with this novel, I would still be interested in reading the sequel (but there better be fewer stupid humans), because I found Allie sympathetic and the vampire-human tension interesting. THE IMMORTAL RULES won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, but those who enjoy True Blood over The Vampire Diaries or Twilight might consider giving this one a try.
Cover discussion: Oh my g--MY EYESSSS. THEY BURNNNN. WHAT IS THIS CRAP. First of all, if that's supposed to be a tear, it's in the wrong location. Tears are produced in the inside corner of one's eye. They don't just leak out from wherever the hell you feel like it. Secondly, ALLIE IS VERY CLEARLY ASIAN IN THE BOOK. This girl's only Asian if you have yellow fever and are stoned out of your mind. Ladies and gentlemen, I think we have a strong contender for the Worst YA Cover of 2012.
Harlequin Teen / April 24, 2012 / Hardcover / 512pp. / $18.99
e-galley received for review through publisher and NetGalley.