Saturday, June 9, 2012

Book Review: "The Immortal Rules"

"The Immortal Rules" by Julie Kagawa
First published in 2012
My rating: 4 out of 5
(image source)

Vampires, oppression, blood sports, evil leaders, monsters, impending post-apocalyptic revoloution (later on in the series, of course): "The Immortal Rules" doesn't really have any new concepts, but Kagawa mashes up now-familiar dystopian themes in a new way. This novel was like a combination of the Will Smith movie "I Am Legend" (which is also a book, although -- believe it or not -- I preferred the movie version), "The Hunger Games" and "Twilight."

We meet 17-year-old Allison Sekemoto about a half-century after the red lung virus wiped out a good chunk of the human population. Vampires, facing the loss of their food source, announced their presence and created walled vampire cities, keeping their "human cattle" penned up inside where they live in treacherous conditions and are forced to give blood to keep their vamp masters fed.

One day Allison has no choice but to venture outside the city wall to scavenge for food, and she's attacked by a band of rabids -- crazed, once-human monsters infected with a mutated form of the red lung virus and preying on all humans and animals in their path. I pictured them exactly like the virus-infected zombies from "I Am Legend" -- pale, hunched, mindless and bloodthirsty. Allison, despite her tenacity, strength and will to live, sustains grievous injuries in the attack. Presented with the opportunity, Allison decides to become the one thing she hates most of all -- a vampire. Being undead is better than being truly dead in her eyes.

The vampires in "The Immortal Rules" are more of the Volturi variety than the Cullen variety -- human blood is the only thing that sustains them, and most seem to have lost all shreds of compassion and civility. But Allison is determined to be a different kind of monster -- she refuses to completely lose her humanity to the "demon" inside her. Wandering in the wilderness, Allison eventually stumbles upon a small group of humans and joins their ranks, passing herself off as one of the living and breathing. They're traversing the country in search of Eden, a city rumored to be under human rule and free of rabids and vampires. Though the group travels at night, Allison can't hide the fact that she's a vampire forever and eventually her secret is discovered. By this time, of course, a romance has already blossomed with Zeke, the handsome 18-year-old who's second-in-charge of the group. Human-vampire love... sound familiar?

I really enjoyed the plot of the novel, but I found the writing style to be clumsy and awkward at times. Kagawa's word choice, phrasing and sentence structure was not nearly as smooth as the other young adult authors I'm a fan of -- JK Rowling, Suzanne Collins, even Rick Riordan -- whose books appeal to adults because, though they're about teenagers, they don't sound like they were written by one. The diction issues -- and the occasional gaps in logic -- might go unnoticed by many readers because they're so wrapped up in the story, but they sometimes seemed glaring to me. While I was looking up some info on the book, I came across Kagawa's blog. And in the first post on the page, she spelled the word "schedule" as "schedual." Clearly, her talent lies in her imagination and creativity, not her mastery of the English language. Despite all that, I will definitely devour the upcoming books in the series!

Happy reading!

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