Honest and lively YA book reviews
If you loved Twilight, I've got a feeling you'll hate The Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa. There's vampires in both. And a bland love interest. That's where the similarities end. Because where Twilight is packed with simpering, soggy romance, hormonal staring and shivering, The Immortal Rules is filled with bloodied heads rolling along dusty floors, wild eyed zombies clawing for a beating heart to chew on and burning buildings collapsing to ash around us.
Allison is a street kid, struggling to survive in a post-apocalyptic world ruled by vampires. Humans live a caged existence, trapped in cities under the guise of protection by the vampires from the Rabids, that prowl beyond the wall, created by Red Lung virus which has swept the earth, killing the vast majority of the population. In reality, these humans are used like cattle as a source of food for the vampires who bleed the Registered regularly to sustain themselves, leaving the Unregistered, like Allison to fend for themselves, starving and without shelter. Following a near-death experience, Allison is transformed into a vampire by the formidable master vampire, Kanin only to be driven from the city, alone in the wilderness when it transpires that he is the most wanted vampire in the city due to his involvement in the downfall of humanity. Wandering and somewhat desperate, Allison happens upon a band of travelling humans searching for the safety of Eden, a city apparently existing without vampire intervention where humans can live free and at peace. A whole lotta shit goes down as Allison struggles to hang on to her humanity as the monster inside her becomes increasingly desperate to be released.
I did not expect to enjoy this book as much as I did. I honestly expected shit. But turns out Allison is a decent heroine, the action was interesting and the world building was pretty great. I liked the unique structure of the society Julie Kagawa created. There were a few unanswered questions but altogether I felt it was solid. The way the vampires maintain order through fear was well crafted and I enjoyed the suspense created in the first half of the book. Unfortunately the pace was not maintained and the whole thing became a bit of a tedious slog in the middle. What's with the wilderness survival?!! Any time this is an element of any book really, I stop giving a shit. Authors - stop having your characters embark upon epic journeys whereby the majority of the action centres around them walking through woodland. Just, enough. K? It's not engaging. Especially as the Rabids which were an enormous threat whilst Allison was still human, trying to scrape together a bearable existence within the city walls, were suddenly transformed into a creature about as threatening as a declawed kitten once Allison had been Turned and let loose into the world.
The pacing picked up again towards the end, but I feel the main problem is that the book is incredibly overwritten and there's far too much of And then this happened and Then that happened that it just descended into a tiring desperation to turn the page and be done with it before the urge to hurl the book at the wall became overwhelming. The plot is also quite involved in places and I found myself having to back-track and reread sections to get a grip on everyone and what their beef was.
Having said that it's still a pretty great adventure. Allison was very tolerable. She has her flaws, but she's brave, she's loyal and she's sort of a bad-ass. I loved the time she spent with Kanin, her vampire "father". There was altogether not enough Kanin air-time. He is a cool character - dark and mysterious with a hidden inner turmoil to fight. And then he just, rather abruptly fucks off. Granted, he's being sprayed with bullets at the time and there's not much he can do to improve the situation, but still ..... I wanted more from him.
Instead, we had to spend the majority of the book lumped with Zeke as Allison's sidekick. He is teeth-grindingly dull. He's kind and considerate and gentlemanly, but my god is he boring. I wanted more grit, more edge. There's nothing sharp about him - he's like Play-do. Soft and brightly coloured and innocent. For some reason Allison seems to adore him which was incredibly frustrating. Allison is a powerful predator, capable of ripping a man's head off with one swipe. But she falls for this bland little kid, who wanders around handing out blankets and cups of soup to his fellow travellers. C'mon Allison: get a grip!! I suppose I should just be grateful he didn't treat her like shit, or stomp all over her. But I just wanted to see him grow a backbone. Or see him ripped to pieces. Either way I would have been happy.
This is gonna sound hella sick, but I loved the death toll in this book. Wow - that sounds bad, but it created tension: Who's gonna die next?! What bloody end will the next character meet?! And we're talking main characters, not just some shitty supporting characters who star for like, a dozen pages before being gunned down, a la Cassie Clare. There was real threat in The Immortal Rules. That's what I like - a real possibility of death or at least maiming. I read so many books of this genre, it's nice to discover something surprising. And nothing is more surprising than nobody's safety being guaranteed. We need to have more swords generally in YA. And I'm not talking plastic safety swords with retractable blades. I'm talking like a katana which Allison wielded. I'm really opposed to violence especially when it's gratuitous, and I hate violent movies but I love the unexpected in the books I read. And nothing spells unexpected quite like a description of one of the more active characters being torn apart by a Rabid monster near the end of the story. Yeah, shit got real. And I liked it.
After crawling through the middle of this book I actually really enjoyed the end. It set up nicely for the next book in the series and promised more Kanin which can only be a good thing. I don't know if I'll go looking for the next book, but if I happen across it I'll give it a go.
Have a glorious day everyone!! See y'all after!!