So… I’ve never read any Julie Kagawa books before this… *ducks the boo’s and paper balls*. Now I can firmly say that it was crazy to ignore her writing for so long!
The cover features Allie post transition in dramatic monochrome as she sheds a bloody tear. I especially love the elaborate front and back endpapers, they give a feeling of the vampiric aristocracy.
The story begins with a human Allie trying to survive in this post apocalyptic world where if you’re not kept as a walking blood bag for vampires, especially for the spoiled royal court, you’re scrounging around on your own - just waiting to be a midnight snack to some night time creature. Besides the vampires there’s also the rabids, mindless ever hungry beings created by a mutated virus that threatens the existence of humans and vampires.
Kagawa creates a perfectly dark and gritty world for this story. You can feel the desperation of survival when Allie is surrounded by ruins of former buildings, or the eeriness of an apocalypse with abandoned vehicles on roads and bloodied homes.
Kagawa takes the very overused idea of vampires and puts an engrossing science spin to it. Kagawa kept some of the original lore of vampires (no sunlight, super strength, blood lust) but she manages to set them a bit apart with unique rules for what changes into what with the virus spreading. I especially loved the idea of the rabids, they’re like a blend of vampiric zombies that are relentless in their pursuit of blood.
Allie initially may not be a super heroine, but I admire her for her strong will to always survive no matter what. She even tries to help others, even if they’re ridiculously useless because while the world has fallen- she doesn’t want to give up hope in humankind and what it used to be like. But faced with her own mortality, she chooses to survive - no matter the consequences.
Afterwards we’re thrown into this intense world of vampires, with super senses, strength and above all, Blood Lust. Katana’s seem to be the weapon of choice these days in books, and it’s no different in The Immortal Rules, but Allie wields it with surgical accuracy and grace with her new abilities. Kanin is an intriguing character as Allie’s creator, driven into hiding and full of secrets, he teaches Allie the ropes until his past finally catches up to them.
Allie goes through some changes in her transition from living to undead, but she manages to keep some semblance of her humanity throughout it all. She struggles with it everyday, but she uses her determination to keep a shadow of her former self as long as she can. This created an amazing internal debate throughout the story between primal need and what she feels is right. This tension is further fed by being surrounded by a dependant group of humans that creates some of the most stress inducing moments ever as she attempts to pass as human. But with her immortal life in front of her, she finds a cause worth fighting for that has a fast approaching expiry date if the rabids and vampires have anything to say about it.
The cast of secondary characters throughout the story, although minor in their parts - come together to form a complex story that in turn makes each character sear themselves into your head through their actions. This was especially true with the character of Stick - who takes the role of slimy rat to a whole new level.
The love interest/second in command of a small human group Zeke was amazing as a strong, but sensitive character in a landscape where softness can quickly get you killed; Zeke definitely turns it into a strength. The relationship that develops between Allie and Zeke is so genuine, and built on life or death moments that ends up creating a much stronger relationship than normal - which is definitely put to the test.
The Immortal Rules is packed with terrifying-run-for-your-life action, deep dark secrets, and a glimmer of hope at the end of a rabid infested tunnel. It ends on an amazing note, with a definite direction for the next book. I can’t wait to read the next one, whose title has just been released as “The Eternity Cure”.