The Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa
For an actiony vampire story, for a deadly post apocalyptic plague world, for common tropes combined in a compelling way
WHAT IF HAVING A CHANCE TO SAVE HUMANITY MEANT BECOMING WHAT YOU HATE AND FEAR MOST?
Allison Sekemoto survives in the Fringe, the outermost circle of a walled-in 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 dies…and becomes one of the monsters.
Forced to flee her city, Allie must pass for human as she joins a ragged group of pilgrims seeking a legend—Eden, a place that might have a cure for the disease that killed off most of civilization and created the rabids, bloodthirsty creatures who threaten human and vampire alike. But hiding her identity is nearly impossible as she comes to know and admire her companions…and starts to fall for a human. Soon Allie will have to decide what—and who—is worth dying for…again.
This is a book I added to my to-read list something like ten years ago, when I was still in high school. So when I came back to this book as a challenge to read one of the oldest books on my tbr, I was kind of wary of what high school age me had decided sounded like a great vampire book. But I gave it a go.
AND YOU KNOW WHAT? IT WAS PRETTY GOOD! I wouldn’t say it blew me out of the water, but it combined common elements of the tropes in uncommon ways to make a fairly unique and genuinely compelling story. I think bold is a good word for this, because the character faces a lot of genuinely shit moments and hard decisions and they often do not end happily. There’s a lot of pain, and you just have to live with it and move on. I think that’s pretty rare.
The number of arc changes in this are impressive, too. It covers SO MUCH in terms of Allison’s personal growth. Spoilers below, but to illustrate my point:
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From human, to vampire in training, to vagabond, to faking human, to exiled by her group, to savior of the group, to vagabond on a rescue mission. I mean, DAMN! I was surprised by at least 3 of these turns.
And for those skipping the spoilers, I can sum it up by saying that the story moves along quickly and there’s a range of scenarios that Allison faces. Although they don’t all last the same length of time, they all serve to teach her something and grow and adapt to her knew existence. Allison from the beginning to Allison at the end are an ocean apart.
The world is not extremely new, as I mentioned (common tropes). There’s some science gone wrong, best intentions that led to the worst results, and of course some young adult angst and self discovery. But, you know.. as a vampire. There’s backstory of their vampire/human setup sprinkled in throughout the book, but some of it takes a while to get to. For example it wasn’t until probably 75% through that they referenced a city in the US and I was like “oh so this isn’t some fake world, it’s like apocalyptic Earth, got it.” That’s not super important though, and the more relevant “what’s with the rabids” kinds of questions are addressed fairly quickly. There’s a lot Allison learns, and so the reader learns with her.
In short, the easiest way to review this is to say I’ll likely read the next book(s) in the series because I’m curious about where it’s going after an action-packed introduction.
One note on something that seemed weird to me in this, mild spoiler:
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When she’s picking out a weapon and goes for the katana, and her mentor is like “OOoh I should have known, the blade of the samurai” that seemed weird since she’s half Japanese but like — so?? And if they’re a day’s motorcycle ride from Chicago, they sure as shit ain’t in Japan! She probably has never even heard of “Japan” and I’m not so sure “samurai” runs in the blood or something. Also katanas are baddass so who wouldn’t pick it? 😍 Anyway, I’m waiting to see if it’s revealed later on that she actually IS from a line of badass samurai fighters, otherwise this was a weird moment of assumption in the book for me.
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