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ARC Review: The Immortal Rules

my thoughts in a few sentences: What to say about The Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa, that hasn’t been said already... First and foremost: don’t go looking for the Iron Fey series in Kagawa’s own vampire addition. I don’t mean expecting Puck or Ash to round the corner, but don’t anticipate the light, dreamy writing and lack of true harshness in her storytelling that is familiar to us, because The Immortal Rules is a sharp turn in the opposite direction.

hooking first lines: " They hung the Unregistereds in the old warehouse district; it was a public execution, so everyone went to see. I stood at the back, a nameless face in the crowd, too close to the gallows for comfort but unable to look away. There were three of them this time, two boys and a girl."

Harlequin Teen • Gifted • Paranormal Romance/Post-Apocalyptic • 4/24/12 • $14.24

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 by Julie Kagawa is a story to be found in the rain and shadows and ash. It’s a tale of devastation and agony, full of wrenching betrayal and cold philosophies in a world full of people whose humanity is slipping in favor of the harsh survivalist mentality. True trust is a gift not given often because it more than likely will not be returned in the same token. Love is elusive amongst a broken people desperate to go on, who would do anything to continue to live, becoming the user or the fighter, but a nearly emotionless survivor all the same. In this world born of Kagawa’s versatile talents, Kagawa labors to bring in shocking view a bleak, shadowed place that belongs in the darkest fringes of our vast imagination.

Allison Sekemoto is one such survivor, a far from rundown Fringer occupied with basic needs and looking out for her ragtag group of friends. Borderline starvation and a cruel fate of utter poverty, a censored lifestyle does not stop Allie from being a ruthless scrapper with an almost impenetrable heart. Though she secrets her compassion from others, letting so few draw close, Allie has been hardened by her way of life and we find that we’re torn between sympathy and antagonism. No way would we so carelessly shrug off kidnappings of good people or the hangings of fellow Fringers were we in her shoes… or so we’d like to think. But Kagawa vividly paints a grueling, severe reality that forces us to see the monsters within when pushed to a very pronounced and miserable brink.

At first, characters are just people that come and go, too quickly gone to form any real attachments to. And yet, that part of us that reaches out when another is in trouble or reaching a gruesome demise, the anguish of lives lost is so keenly felt. Bounced from her Fringer family to mysterious vampire maker with a troublesome and quite shocking past to a family that genuinely cares, bonded together with steel and determinate and heart at the foundation, the people Allie comes to meet are a roadmap to the various points of Allie’s life as she transitions from vampire-hating, hardcore survivalist human to self-loathing, self-controlled equally BAD ASS vampire who comes to accept the hand she’s been dealt. Kagawa doesn’t just tell a story of a girl who merely turns into another vampire, but paves and cements a road that leads to the definition of humanity. Allie’s story is about working out the definition of each of those terms—human, vampire, life, death, and the shades of gray in between, the choice between heartless loner who always finds a way out no matter the sacrifice or being the outsider that is slowly welcomed into the fold and grows to love and be bonded with.

Death is the predator always hanging back and waiting for the opportunity to swoop in and take, and is never far behind in The Immortal Rules. We become so accustomed to lives vanishing as suddenly and unexpectedly as we grow to care for whether they do live or die. The characters cease to be open secrets with no leverage over our hearts and we feel ourselves give in to connecting with each one, much the same as Allie does. And with Allie letting go of her better instincts—the ones that shout to stay aloof—romance strikes swiftly and softly, despite all the unyielding hardness of their world, the stabbing situations they encounter, because Allie and Zeke’s meeting demands an answer which begs the question: is the love between a vampire and human as doomed as the rest of the world and all its tragedy?

It’s unnecessary to be a lover of vampire novels to enjoy Julie Kagawa’s The Immortal Rules, although fans can expect the traditional route with an overlying freshness that very much has to do with her chosen setting. All it takes is the ability to appreciate the characters and their determination and will to fight, to press onward, the valuable subtle lessons learned by Allie herself, and the action-packed life-or-death situations that accompany those moments of clarity and learning and loving. Despite the daunting length of the book, the pages sweep by in a rush that will leave fellow readers surprised, and, once it’s over, Allie’s journey still feels unfinished, but in an anticipatory way that doesn’t leave us hanging in a rudely shortened moment. It’s unquestionably obvious how much more Kagawa has to give for this darkly satisfying up-and-coming series, and the questions taunting our lack of awareness won’t rest until we receive an answer.

Rating: Perfect Bed Partner
"Wait," Zeke called and sighed, running his hands through his hair. "I’m sorry," he said, finally looking up at me. "I’m trying, Allison, I am. It’s just... you’re a vampire, and..." He made a frustrated, helpless gesture. "And I wasn’t expecting... any of this."
"I didn’t bite anyone," I told him quietly. "That’s the truth, Zeke. I didn’t feed from anyone in the group."
"I know," he said. "I just thought—"
"But I wanted to."
He looked up sharply.
"And, you’re telling me this... why?"
"Because you need to know," I said simply. "Because this is what I am and you should know what that is, before we go any further." (376-377)
Be sure to check out other books by Julie Kagawa:

Looking for books with a similar feel, try checking out the following:

Got something specific in mind? Dare I believe I might NOT have covered something you wish to know? If so, let me know down in the comments section. Don't be shy!


patpicha said...

Great review, Asher! I can't wait to read it!

Caitlin said...

This is such a great review Asher, I pretty much agree with your thoughts! Allison was a total fighter and the world WAS very bleak, but in quite an appealing way!
"Allie’s story is about working out the definition of each of those
terms—human, vampire, life, death, and the shades of gray in between"
Completely agree with this assessment, I loved the journey she went on in this book, it was really well thought out

Btw, I adore the new look ;)

Heidi said...

Hrm.  Now see, I was ready to NOT read this one after deciding that I wasn't a huge Iron Fey fan, but your insistence that this takes a complete turn in the other direction has me interested.  I like that you say that it will appeal to fans of more traditional vampire lore, but that it has a post-apocalyptic setting that is as much of the story.  Lovely review, Asher!

Ezmirelda Demetri said...

I couldn't have said it any better myself. This review was written beautifully and matched a lot of the thoughts running through my head as I read the book. I felt a very different type of writting in Immortal Rules than what I read in the Iron Fey series. I could sense a few things that felt similar, like Julie's love for using swords in her work, but otherwise it was a completely different book with completely different types of characters. I was a little peeved about the cover and trailer because Allie is described to be Asian in the book but not on the cover. It both confused and irritated me. Have you seen the website made for the book series?


I thought it looked pretty cool. I'm extremely excited about what's in store for us in the next book! ;)

Asher_Knight said...

 THANK YOU. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did, because I was so grateful and relieved and basically stupefied by how intensely dark and exciting it is!

Asher_Knight said...

Thanks, Cait!! <33

The bleakness and harshness just made it MORE intriguing, fascinating, and just plain riveting. I was in total awe by how much different the book was from what I'd come to expect from Julie. And, yes, I love that we got to see so many stages in Allie's life, that Julie broke it up in so many parts and we get to watch a very tremendous growth by the end.

And, OH I'M SO GLAD. When I first finished it, I was so nervous about it, I guess because I'd been working on it for 16 hours and could barely see straight so it LOOKED ugly for to me for a while. Then the next day I was all, WOW. I totally did this amazingness XDD

Asher_Knight said...

 Whereas the Iron Fey series is light, dreamy writing because of the world that is full of dreams and imagination and legends, Immortal Rules is the world, our world, gone totally dark. Everything has gone to hell, and people are living their own personal versions. It's harsh, cutting, and full of nightmares. I loved it!

Traditional vampires mixed with that sort of setting? WAY cool, and so much better than I could've anticipated. It gives the vampires an even uglier look, making them seem more vicious, more like monsters. THANKS, Heidi <33

Rebecca (Kindle Fever) said...

Oh my goshhhhhh! I'm so happy you liked it so much. I can't WAIT. I've only read the first book in the Iron Fey series so far, but am already craving more and this one sounds equally amazing--but in a completely different way, like you say. Fantastic reviewww! *loves*

Asher_Knight said...

 Oh, *blushes*, THANK YOU. The writing was a HUGE shift from the Iron Fey series, and it's nothing at all like one would expect. I DID NOTICE THAT about the cover. So did my mom, and we were both disappointed.

I DID see it. HOW AWESOME, right? It's jaw-dropping amazing.

I can't even imagine what she's going to write in the next book, since it doesn't follow a pattern. The Iron Fey series, you kind of knew what to expect, but this series is so different it's hard and Julie already covered so much with this first one!

Asher_Knight said...

I LOVED IT, Rebecca. And it's so opposite to the Iron Fey series but Julie's growth as a writer is so apparent in this book, that that in and of itself makes this book better. But, IT'S SO DARK. And that's thrilling and powerful and exciting! Everything is so vivid and brutal. I hope you love it! And I can't wait to read your thoughts on the Iron Fey series! :DD

Christy @ Captivated Reading said...

I have this one waiting for me right now. I can't WAIT to read it! Awesome review!

Sonia said...

ASHER. I'm just going to borrow your brain (forever) okay? Your reviews are always so eloquent and insightful and I just heart them SO HARD.

Okay dude, I'm reading this one right now and I feel like I have been for years. I need access to my laptop to read it and that isn't happening right now :/ Ahhhh, I am missing out!! But yeah, totally know what you mean already. Iron Fey was so whimsical and light and this is just... dark and gritty. I love it though! I'm only on Part II of that transformation you mentioned (she's with Kanin right now and his dark past was just revealed DUN DUN DUUUUN).

So, off to get this review tattooed to my heart...
(LOL I am so corny today, forgive me)

Asher_Knight said...

Oh, how exciting! I really hope you enjoy it as much as I did, because it's so wonderfully thrilling and intensely dark. 

Asher_Knight said...

SONIA. <333 Thank you, your comments are some of the best I read, because they get me all smiley when you say things like that ;)

THAT SUCKS that you have to read it through your laptop. Like, seriously STINKS. Kanin is definitely pretty cool and when I read it is I was like, What is this? in a wondering tone cos he's kind of sexy and mysterious.

Maybe I'll go with you and tattoo Sonia rocks!! ;D

Mimi Valentine said...

You couldn't have picked a BETTER rating for this one, Asher! (Considering that have of the blogosphere probably stayed up late one night finishing this book? It couldn't have been more accurate LOL!) I'm so happy you loved this book too! It's so DIFFERENT from her Iron Fey series that if it didn't have Julie's signature writing style on it, I probably never would've guessed it was one of her books! x) 

Amazing review, Asher!!! This is one of those books where you wish you hadn't gotten an ARC of all the while being super glad that you did, because waiting for the next book is going to be TORTURE. Hehe :) <3

Erin W. said...

I'm reading this book at the moment . . . can't wait to finish it! Anyway great review! Just heard this book has been optioned for a movie! Very exciting!

Jenny said...

"It’s unnecessary to be a lover of vampire novels to enjoy Julie Kagawa’s The Immortal Rules,"

YES! I loved that about it. I know so many people are tired of vampire stories, but I think the vampire aspect becomes almost irrelevant in the face of brilliant characters and a dark, gritty world. Yes, there are vampires. But Allie's remaining humanity is just as present as her vampire needs:) Absolutely beautiful review Asher, your writing is amazing!

Sam @ Realm of Fiction said...

YES, you nailed this review. You have described my feelings towards this better better than I did! Great job, Asher! It always makes me feel all warm and fuzzy to see my favourite books being well received my other readers. It means more people to fan-girl with! ;) And after the movie news today, I don't think I could be more excited for the next book. :)

Asher_Knight said...

 I'd like to think so! I spent the whole morning on my couch, under a blanket, firmly glued to everything that was happening. It's cray-cray how different this book is to her Iron Fey series and I LOVE that, even though I did love her first series.

And YUP. That's exactly how I feel. A part of me wishes I'd never read it early because the wait is even MORE severe. XD

Asher_Knight said...

 Oh, you will LOVE it. I'm sure, I just don't see how you can't. The writing is too dark, the world-building so intense... I HOPE YOU LOVE IT. And I heard the news just now too! YAAAY. It's the perfect book for a movie, now that I've thought about it!

Asher_Knight said...

 Because it's more about Allie's outlook on life and working out her own meaning for what it means to be a monster and a person, the vampire part becomes a side benefit rather than as something very essential. Frankly, she could've been ANYTHING, any paranormal, and in keeping with theme, it would've worked. Thank you so much, Jenny! <33

Asher_Knight said...

 Aw, thank you so much, Sam. I loved your review though! You're what convinced me to stop holding off on it and GET RIGHT ON THAT. *fist-bumps* We are total Immortal Rules fangirls! :D THE MOVIE NEWS. I died because I couldn't catch my breath after squealing so much. FINALLY. This is finally happening for Julie. I've always visualized her books as if I were watching a movie.

Liz. R said...

This review is perfect. You've said everything that needs to be said. Allie was so awesome! I really loved her character and the way she developed over the course of the book. I just can't wait to find out what happens next! Brilliant review :).

Asher_Knight said...

<33 Thanks, Liz! Allie is crazy amazeballs just for being such a cool survivalist, but I grew to like who she was even more as the story goes on. Isn't it funny how she turned out to be more humane when she was a vamp? I found that to be one of the best, subtle, twists.

You and me both. I don't know how I'm going to be able to stand THE WAIT.

EmilieSofie said...

I really liked the Iron fey series, but this book just doesn't seem to be abel to comper, so I don't think I'll read it but still a wonderful review :) 

Asher Knight said...

Aww, you should definitely try it. Her writing has seriously improved and the darkness of it is seriously thrilling...

Sarah (saz101) said...

Uhh... HOW have I not commented on this yet? Errr... seriously... I even read it and loved it so much I wanted to quote it... but I didn't COMMENT? *FACEPALM*


Oh, Asher, you couldn't have said it better... seriously, TIR is BRILLIANT. It's not just a dystopian or paranormal or YA, or anything... it's a truly great novel, with a truly great character from a TRULY great writer... I LOVE how it's so much more than what meets the surface... it's complex--it's abou human nature. LOVE.

Girl, you are a writerly goddess ♥

Asher Knight said...

 IT'S OKAY, Sarah. I <3 you anyway. You could never comment and I'D STILL LOVE YOU. And I'm honored that you'll be quoting me. Makes me feel beyond special :D

IT IS BRILLIANT. I genuinely could not stop reading it because I was so surprised and excited by the darkness.