Thursday, May 17, 2012

The Immortal Rules

I do not typically read vampire stories. I read Twilight, but that hardly qualifies. When I have read "real" vampire stories, I've been turned off because usually, they are really and truly monsters. I've always been a little intrigued by the Underworld movies starring Kate Beckinsale, and I've seen bits and pieces of those. But even Underworld is a little dark for my tastes. I think I picked up Julie Kagawa's young adult novel The Immortal Rules only because I'd read The Iron Queen, by the same author, and liked it so well. And let me tell you, for a vampire story, it's good.

Allison Sekemoto lives in a post-apocalyptic world where vampires reign and use the humans who are left as blood slaves. As an Unregistered, Allie doesn't have to give blood, but the price is high. She's a scavenger, living day to day, sometimes eating the garbage even the rats won't touch. Still, she's free.

Then one day, a plan to scavenge outside the safety of the city's walls goes horribly wrong, and Allie finds herself faced with the worst choice possible. Die to the world forever...or die but keep on living, such a life as it is, as a soulless vampire. She chooses to remain with the world and, in so doing, becomes the monster she hates. Her vampire "father" teaches her what she needs to survive in her new life, his greatest lesson being that she is not human anymore and, in fact, will one day kill one.

Allison hates who she is, and she is determined to retain any humanity she might have left. What's great about this book is that very struggle. If your only choice was to drink human blood, how would you go about it? Allison makes friends along the way, complicating her dilemma.

Allison herself is a pretty sweet katana-wielding, Asian vampire girl. Altogether, it's a kick-butt adventure with emotional depth and a cool antihero. It's definitely darker and more edgy than Twilight, but it's not all blood and gore (though there's a fair amount of it).

One of the things I absolutely love about the book is it's a vampire story where sex isn't an emphasis. Vampires have always been either monsters or sexual fiends, often both. This story downplays both sides while still retaining the dark image of what a vampire is. It's not watered down, just classier. But there's still romance. Hard to have a teen vampire novel without that!

Another thing I found interesting in the book is the use of religion. Vampires aren't supposed to have souls, but Allie keeps questioning exactly what that means. The group she ends up with is very religious, led by a former preacher. Though the preacher himself believes God has abandoned Earth, his protege, Allie's love interest, has more faith. I was thoroughly surprised to see a large passage of the Bible quoted, as this is a secular book...about vampires no less. Allie, as a vampire, even reads the Bible, so as you can see, the book doesn't go as far as some mythology. I thought the vampire mythology of this book was a good mix of traditional (wooden stakes, sunlight, etc. are bad) and newer trends (the cross and the Bible aren't).

The Immortal Rules, out this month, is the first book of a new series called Blood of Eden. I'm looking forward to the sequel. Four stars.

1 comment:

  1. This book pretty much seals the deal for me. I'm a Julie Kagawa fan through and through. Julie's Iron Fey Series can be found pretty near the top of my favorites list. Four amazing books and four gushing reviews later.. This book reader wanted more! Then I heard about The Immortal Rules! Another book by the amazing Kagawa! I just couldn't wait to get my greedy little hands on it!

    We've got a whole new series, promising a brand new adventure! We're not just talking fairies anymore! This book had it all! A dystopian world over run with VAMPIRES! An unforgettable sword swinging heroine! I was gonna love it.


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