Title: The Immortal Rules (Blood of Eden #1)
Author: Julie Kagawa
Rating: 3.5/5 Stars
I’m probably going to get pelted with stones for saying this, but I don’t understand the hype behind this novel. Was The Immortal Rules good? Yes, yes it was. Was it amazing? Did it deserve the raving reviews it’s receiving all over the blogosphere? It is truly mind-blowing? In my opinion, no, it’s not. While I thoroughly enjoyed reading The Immortal Rules and will most definitely be picking up its sequel, I don’t think I was as invested in this story as other readers. Perhaps I have a mind-block from disliking Kagawa’s Iron Fey Series, a set of novels whose idea I adored but characters I hated. Or maybe I simply expected too much from this novel and it failed to deliver. Whatever it may be, I find myself in the minority of people who liked The Immortal Rules but by no means loved it.
Allie is a Japanese teenager living in a world overrun by vampires. As a human, Allie has two choices – stay Unregistered and struggle to steal her food and keep herself alive or become a Registered Human and donate blood to the bloodsuckers that killed her family. For Allie, the choice is a no brainer – she’s tough, she’s strong, and she’s a survivor. When a raid to obtain food for the winter ahead backfires though, Allie finds herself breathing her last, so when Kanin, a powerful Master vampire, offers to grant her immortality, the survivor in her wins out and she agrees. Yet, being a vampire is nothing like Allie imagines and despite her determination to remain as human as possible, her Hunger is hard to satiate. When Allie becomes separated from Kanin, her sire and teacher, she inadvertently joins another group of Unregistered Humans – who have no idea she is a vampire – on a quest to find
an island devoid of vampires. As Allie slowly begins to form bonds with these
strange humans (and especially the second-in-command Zeke) that travel in the
night, she is forced to battle her inner demons and come to terms with what it
means to truly be a vampire.
I have to start out by admitting that I admire Kagawa’s imagination. Even with her Iron Fey Series, she managed to take an overused paranormal creature and add her own unique spin to that mythology, creating an original work of fiction. The Immortal Rules is no different and I love the complex world Kagawa was written. In fact, I was extremely pleased that the love interest in this novel did not appear until the half-way mark of this book as that not only allowed room for the development of Allie’s character, but also for a large amount of necessary world-building. Although many readers have claimed that the first half of the novel was boring, I found that it was my favorite part. Then again, this could have to do with Kanin, Allie’s enigmatic vampire teacher. Kanin is, without a doubt, my favorite character and I am thrilled that we’ll be seeing more of him in the sequel. I think he’s a very mysterious and well-fleshed out character that I am very curious to learn more about. In addition, I found that his relationship with Allie was amusing, entertaining, and touching.
Up until the half-way point of this book, I was really enjoying it. It was an easy 4 Stars off the bat, but then the tide began to turn. When Allie meets Zeke and the Unregistered Humans who are on their way to
Eden, I found
that I was more than a little skeptical about how the situation was going to
play out. I found that Ruth, a drama queen who was in love with Zeke, was a
little too bitchy to be considered completely realistic. Furthermore,
Zeke himself seemed too good to be true. I found him to be an extremely flat
character until about the last one-fourth of the story, but even after
finishing this novel, I have to admit that I don’t exactly like him. I think
Zeke is an extremely sweet love interest and it’s nice to see a change from the
usual bad boy romance, but I wish Zeke had a few more flaws. Zeke reminded me a
lot of Jase from My Life Next Door – perfect boyfriend
material, quick to understand, and the dream boy every girl wishes for. Perhaps
I’m missing some integral genes, but Zeke was too angelic for me to be
attracted to him. Where are his flaws? Where are the qualities that make him
human? I liked Zeke and I thought the romance between him and Allie was
extremely well played out, but he definitely won’t be
making my literary crush shelf anytime soon.
Speaking of the romance, I really have to commend Kagawa on this front. I expected the novel to end with Zeke still not realizing who and what Allie was, but Kagawa surprised me and realistically sprung this truth upon their relationship. I loved seeing how they moved on past that hurdle and managed to come to an understanding. Furthermore, I love how Allie had no false illusions about their relationship and didn’t need Zeke with her all the time. I recall that my greatest complaint with Meghan, the protagonist of the Iron Fey Series, was her dependence on the men in her life. Allie on the other hand, is solely independent and definitely kick-ass. I thought her transformation throughout the novel, determination to retain her humanity, and eventual understanding of what it meant to be a vampire was all very well written.
In all honesty, I understand why people are so hung up on this novel. Kagawa writes vampires the way they’re supposed to be written – deadly, hungry for blood, and dangerous. Kagawa’s bloodsuckers burn up in the sun, die due to a wooden stake through their heart, and if you ever meet them in real life, you’ll want to run away screaming. Unlike other authors, Kagawa also doesn’t romanticize what it means to be a vampire. She gives the reader no false illusions about the plausibility of a happily-ever-after for her characters, there are no hidden mentions of humans and vampires happily co-existing, and immortality is not treated as a way to live with your soul mate forever.
On all these fronts, I applaud Kagawa, but, I was still not wow-ed by her novel. I think she has immensely improved as an author, but in many ways, I felt as if The Immortal Rules lacked a little something. I truly enjoyed the first half, but I think what really pushed the rating of this novel down were Kagawa’s failed efforts to make Zeke into a more full-fledged character. Although Zeke suffers through pain, torture, and a unique (and utterly sick) form of brain-washing, this barely affects him and fails to make him come alive on the page which I found to be extremely disappointing. I also feel as if The Immortal Rules was too cinematic in its action scenes, unrealistic drama, and overall credulousness in many parts to be taken on very seriously.
Nevertheless, despite my qualms with this story, I really enjoyed it. The Immortal Rules was a breath of fresh air and I think other readers will definitely fall in love with this rich and atmospheric world. If nothing else, Kagawa has convinced me that I definitely have to get my hands on the sequel. So, fans of The Immortal Rules, beware when the time comes because I’m not letting anything stand in between me and more Kanin! ;)