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Publishing date: April 24, 2012
Format: Hardcover, 485 pages
Blurb from goodreads:
"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.
If humanity was wiped by a virus in the near future, leaving vampires free to step in and take control, this is how things would play out. The Immortal Rules is realistic, the world and writing authentic and not trying to sugarcoat anything. From its killer opening to its conclusion, I didn’t want to put this book down. For some people’s taste, the pace might be a bit slow in the beginning, but I enjoy getting to know and connect with the characters before the action goes down.
Allie lives in a decrepit, crumbling school building in the Fringe, a stretch of town between the inner and outer walls of her vampire city. After her mother’s death, she fell in with a gang of other kids around the same age, and together they try to scrounge up enough food to survive and defend each other and their territory against other gangs. Since she’s Unregistered, she doesn’t get foodstamps or healthcare and must be completely self-reliant. In return, she doesn’t have to ‘donate’ any of her blood to the vampires living in the glittering Inner City. The practical consequence: she is constantly starving and spends her days scavenging for food and other practical items.
Allie is a strong protagonist; she knows the rules of the system and does her best to make use of the loopholes in order to survive on a day-to-day basis. When a scavenging trip to the ruins outside the city ends in disaster, she is given the choice: to die of rabidism (humans/animals gone crazy with the virus, a constant menace in the wilderness outside the city) or to have a shot at becoming what she hates most in this world. Allie chooses to live – in a manner.
The first rule of being a vampire? Drink human blood, or go mad. When a mistake forces Allie to separate from her sire and leave the city, she experiences a new kind of hunger. Fighting her own nature, she tries to blend in with a group of humans on the road to a city which might or might not exist. Trying to keep her secrets, Allie is constantly torn between her lingering humanity and her predator nature, especially when she starts to develop feelings for a certain member of the group…
The world-building in this book is phenomenal and unique. Julie Kagawa avoids the initial infodump and lets the readers see and figure out a lot of the basics by themselves, but not in a way that is overwhelming or confusing. The main characters were well-rounded and the plot engaging. Allie’s struggles against herself and her surroundings, as well as the different ways people try to deal with the situation, kept me turning the pages. I also enjoyed that while some romance was present (and it was great!), it wasn’t the main focus of the novel. The ending rounded the book off well, but it also left enough questions open to make me anxious for the sequel!
One minor point of critique: while the main characters were fleshed out, some of the minor characters only had one or two actual character traits and were primarily functional devices. It wouldn’t have hurt to add a layer or so more to them. However, this didn’t really bother me while I was reading. All in all, the book definitely lives up to the hype!
More personal and spoilery thoughts:
I knew Julie Kagawa from her Iron Fey books (I’ve only read the first 2 so far) and really enjoyed the fairy-world she created there. I’m glad to say that she writes vampires just as well if not better.
I really enjoyed the section of the book that focuses on Allie’s training with Kanin, her vampire sire. She can satisfy her desire to read and learn in a world where most of the population is illiterate. I liked Kanin a lot, and I wished he’d been present for more of the book. He’ll definitely be in the sequel, though.
Also, Asian girl protagonist with a samurai-sword? Count. Me. In!! The fight-scenes were phenomenal. I loved the theatre-setting for the fight against the people who keep Allie’s group imprisoned. In general, Old Chicago must be one of my favorite book-towns ever. It was really interesting to see how different its organization was from that of New Covington, the city Allie comes from!
Another thing about Allie that I found interesting is that sometimes, I had the feeling she was harsher as a human than as a vampire. She wanted to protect the group she travelled with and was dead-set against leaving anyone behind if it could be helped – something she wouldn’t have thought twice about as a human (unless it was a gang member).
I was a bit surprised by the structure of the book. From the blurb, I had expected Allie to be a vampire already, with the parts of her human life being flashbacks. I was surprised the human-part lasted as long as it did, but it was a good way to show the workings of this dystopian society and how radical her transition from prey to predator really is – even though also there, she remains in an in-between state and has to keep hiding.
I think I have to stop my prattling now – all in all, I wolfed this book down when I was reading and kept wondering about what would happen next when I wasn’t. Whether you like vampires or dystopian novels or both – this is the book for you!
Have you read this first book of the Blood of Eden series? What did you think of it? Let me know in the comments :)