A plague has killed off much of the human race, and now vampires rule, keeping the remaining humans under tight control to ensure a steady blood supply. Allie Sekemoto lives on the outskirts of New Covington, a vampire-ruled city. She’s part of a ragtag gang of street kids who survive by scavenging and stealing. And she hates vampires. That is, until the day she is mortally wounded and brought back as one of them.
The Immortal Rules follows Allie as she learns how to live as a vampire (still on the run, because her sire is persona non grata in vampire society), and later joins a party of humans and tries to fit in among them. Julie Kagawa creates a harsh post-apocalyptic world, spins an action-filled plot, and introduces us to a fierce heroine. Allie’s determination to survive and her unwillingness to blindly obey anyone will keep readers rooting for her through all her trials.
Kagawa builds great tension in the early chapters as she shows us Allie’s struggles as a human. The chapters immediately following Allie’s transformation are slower, mostly because there’s a lot of exposition to get through. Most of this exposition is probably necessary. After all, every vampire author puts an individual spin on the traditional folklore, picking and choosing which bits will turn out to be true and which false in the story. It’s also character development for Allie, as we see her react to what she learns. It can be a little dry at moments, though.
The book picks back up when Allie joins a group of humans on a pilgrimage of sorts. Led by the fanatical Jebbadiah, this group is searching for Eden, a city without vampires, which may be real or may be a myth. Allie soon becomes attached to these people, and the tension moves back up to unbearable levels as her blood hunger becomes more insistent. Soon she will have to choose one of them to feed on, or else the hunger will take over and she will no longer be able to choose, or to exercise self-control in her feeding. And increasingly, feeding on any of them is starting to seem unconscionable to her. I read most of this section in one sitting, because it was so psychologically intense and I couldn’t bear to put the book down until this plot point was resolved.
The final section of The Immortal Rules is intense in a different way. I noted when reading Kagawa’s IRON FEY series that she writes great visuals that would translate well to the big screen. She does that here too, setting exciting action against the hauntingly ruined shell of a familiar city. And there’s more to come even after that…
Allie is a terrific heroine. Her stubbornness, her ethical struggles, and the way she cares for others even in spite of herself make her sympathetic and pull the reader through the book’s occasional slow spots. Her love interest, Zeke, is also a compelling character, especially his inner conflict as he begins to question everything he has been taught. Jeb, too, has a great inner conflict and is interesting even though he’s hateable. Kanin, Allie’s sire and mentor, has a tragic history and is interesting even though he is, perhaps, too often a dispenser of exposition. I was disappointed by Ruth, however; mostly because she’s the only other young woman in the book and she’s a catty mean girl. She’s actually right to be suspicious of Allie, but most of her hostility seems to stem from the fact that the two girls like the same boy.
The Immortal Rules is a good page-turner. It’s divided into four sections, each of which is very different from the others but interesting in its own way, and the book as a whole doesn’t feel anywhere near its 485-page length. It ends on a good stopping point, but with the next plotline clearly visible on the horizon. I will definitely pick up further books in the BLOOD OF EDEN series.
A final note: I hope Harlequin Teen will reconsider this cover. While it’s striking, it is disappointing in that it doesn’t reflect the heroine’s Japanese heritage.