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.
I’m going to put this out there right up front…this is my first Julie Kagawa book. Yes, really. As respected and even revered as she is among YA readers & bloggers I’ve never picked up one of her books before. Look, it’s nothing personal and it’s not for lack of curiosity about her writing. I just…I don’t really do fae. It’s just one of those things for me that’s kind of a deal breaker, the way some people don’t like vampires (scandalous!) or contemporary or what have you. And let me say, after reading this book I get what all of the Julie Kagawa fuss is about.
One of the best things to me in The Immortal Rules is the world building. She does a great job of creating a bleak, hopeless landscape that is broken and dangerous and crawling with things that go bump in the night (and hey, when vampires aren’t the worst things going bump in the night, it’s pretty tough not to be frightening). You can really visualize the places where Allie lives, where she scavenges, etc.
Another great thing is the characters themselves, especially Allie. She’s such a layered and awesome character. It would have been so easy to make her the stereotypical tough girl with a chip on her shoulder who is angry about being what she hates most – and she does have those qualities to an extent – but she’s so much more than that. As much of a caretaker role as she’s taken on in her life, she’s still incredibly flawed and willing to make terrible decisions in the face of fear. You could almost believe that she’s a real person, and she becomes more real instead of less once she becomes a vampire. It was interesting to watch her struggle with her new vampire nature. She wants to stay human and firmly on the side of the good guys, but it’s hard to resist what should be natural for her. Yet her feelings are still hurt when people react to her with fear. She was very conflicted and it made for a super interesting protagonist.
Zeke is also a complex guy, battling to reconcile how he feels with the way he has been raised. In fact, the only character in the entire book who came off a bit one-dimensional to me was Ruth, and I think that might have been by design. You’re not supposed to like her. I also couldn’t stand Stick, like, AT ALL. What a tremendous douchenozzle. But again, by design. Kagawa does weak, miserable, bitchy and hateable characters as well as she does strong and scary ones.
I liked a lot how brutal Kagawa is with her characters. She really doesn’t pull any punches, either mentally or physically. It’s a hard world that she’s created and she doesn’t sugar coat anything or give any easy outs. The entire book is really action packed and fabulous. I can’t wait for the sequel.