by Julie Kagawa
Book One in the Blood of Eden series.
Allison Sekemoto – “Allie” to her friends – is lives out in the Fringe with a small gang of grubby urchins. That means she is outside the Inner City, a protected area where the vampires live. Any human inside its walls lives in luxury, with plenty to eat and a soft bed at night, but it comes at a high price: they are the “pets” of the vampires, and their primary food source. To the fiercely independent Allie, the security isn’t worth it. Out in the Fringe, however, food is scarce. Often, she must sneak out beyond the safety of the city walls in search of supplies, which puts her at risk of running into rabids. Rabids are mindless and violent, the opposite of the suave and sophisticated vampires save for one key similarity: both groups are dead. When one of Allie’s food raids goes awry, her gang is killed by rabids. She nearly joins them, but she is saved by a vampire who offers her the chance to join him as one of the undead. Frightened by the reality of dying, Allie agrees, and begins her new life as a bloodsucker.
I really liked that zombies and vampires are linked in this story. After all, they’re both undead, right? Granted, the “rabids” are never actually labeled zombies, but it’s pretty obvious: dead people who come back to life, mindless, and eat people? And these dead spread their curse through infected bites? Yup, sounds like a zombie to me! In The Immortal Rules, they exist because a terrible plague began wiping out humanity. The vampires, worried that their food supply would die out completely, attempt to create a cure using their blood, but instead of healing the sick it mutates them. Pretty terrible, right? But a great idea.
Allie is a great anchor for the story. She isn’t particularly virtuous or nice; when two members of her gang are attacked, she runs away rather than attempt a suicidal rescue. She can be very cold and calculating. Ironically, it’s only after she’s undergone her transformation into a vampire that she appreciates her humanity, and tries to preserve it. I wouldn’t say she’s seeking redemption for her faults as a human or the “demon” bloodlust that drives her as a vampire – it’s more that Allie seeks balance. She doesn’t want to be a fully vicious killer, but she doesn’t want to be weak and easy prey, either.
Towards the middle of the book, after her transformation and rudimentary vampire training has been completed, Allison finds herself joining a small troop of humans searching for “Eden”, a mythical city they believe to be free of both rabids and vampires. She pretends to be human, and as she travels with this group she falls for the son of its leader, a handsome young man named Ezekiel. Here, the story runs into trouble. The endless wandering of this small religious group isn’t exactly riveting, and Kagawa doesn’t put a lot of effort into developing her other characters. The only other girl in this story, Ruth, is a mean-spirited, jealous girl who constantly spreads gossip about Allie to the others in the group. I was a little disappointed by this – surely there was room in this narrative for two strong heroines? Did we have to automatically default to “bitch” for the other woman? Oh well.
With world-building as strong as her Iron Fey series and vastly improved characters, Julie Kagawa’s new series is intriguing and entertaining.
3.5 out of 5 stars
To read more about The Immortal Rules, buy it or add it to your wishlist click here.
Peeking into the archives...today in:
2012: Catch Me if You Can by Frank Abagnale Jr.
2011: Fashionista Piranha will be on hiatus for a while...
2010: Bite Me by Christopher Moore
2009: Discussion Question: Summer reading + no updates
2008: The Aviary Gate by Kate Hickman