Thursday, 10 May 2012

Book review: The Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa

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.

The Immortal Rules is the first Julie Kagawa book I have read and to be honest I wasn’t really sure who she was before reading this (I know, I know I must be living under a rock or something.) So I wasn’t quite sure why The Immortal Rules was garnering so much attention and excitement. It seems as though this book is a bona-fide hit months before its release, there is just so much hype about it.

Well, I can say with absolute clarity that all the hype and all the excitement is deserved.

This book is brilliant.

The story starts with a bang and it effortlessly introduces you to this hard and cold world. It gathers your attention and from there it is a struggle to break free.

Do not be put off by the word vampire. This is no Twilight, or TVD. This is not a teen, angst filled romp about boyfriends and soul mates. This is gritty, gory and grim. It is everything a vampire/dystopian book should be and a hell of a lot more. The vampires are not in this book to be liked or lusted over, they are dark and dangerous and most of them you would not want anywhere near you.

The story/plot is excellent. There is no doubt about it, the story is inspired and different. (I thought the YA vampire genre was dead then this came along and proved me wrong) but it is the execution that sets this book apart from a lot of YA around at the moment.

The level of description and writing here is nothing short of incredible. Kagawa brings this world to life with her excellent world building. The characters, settings and creatures (look out for the Rabids, who are the best monsters I have ever read in dystopian fiction) are all realistic and there was not one point where I felt the she had pushed it a little too far.

The dialogue and plot are fast paced. There are no cheesy moments and no cringe-worthy speeches. Despite this being a serious, compelling and at times disturbing dystopian novel the book has light-hearted moments that bring a genuine smile to your face. It is nice to not be bombarded with darkness all the time.

One of the best things about this book is the characters. I loved them Especially Allison, Zeke and Kanin.  Allison is kick ass. She is the hero and I kind of love her. She is sassy and sarcastic but not thoughtless. She is strong and powerful but not heartless. She is kind and caring without being weak. Her character grows and changes in a natural way, she is easy to like and easy to root for and is the most compelling female lead I have read in a long time.

Zeke is gorgeous. He is cute, honest and funny. He is not devastating or unrealistic like so many romantic leads. He is real, he is believable and it is easy to see how anyone could fall in love with him. The romance between him and Allison is just perfect. It builds slowly, it is realistic. There is no insta-love here. No bolts of lightning when they touch. This is just two people getting to know each other and realising they have feelings for one another.

Then there is Kanin (dreamy-sigh) who is perfect in every way possible. (You might have guessed that I am just a tad obsessed with him…just a tiny little bit) I think Kanin might have destroyed me for every other male literary character. He is charming, wise, strong, and fair. He is almost a mentor to Alison and their relationship is where a lot of the light-hearted moments come in to play, but also some of the heavier moments to.

This book has so much going for it, there is so much to admire and love here. It has everything (including its fair share of heartache.) This is a book that will draw you in and will not let you go.

To me this is the standard all YA books should strive to meet. It is well thought out, well put together, well written and well-developed with a great story arc. The descriptions are quality and everything seems real. I can see this world; I can feel it and smell it. To many YA books do things half-heartedly. Well, there is none of that here.

In my opinion this genre NEEDS more books like this; hell the world needs more books like this.

There is no doubt about it this book is going to be huge. So do yourselves a favour and buy this book. It deserves your attention.

5 stars

Published May 4th 2012 by MIRA Ink.  A free copy was provided for review. Image courtesy of Goodreads

Review by Kate Phillips

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