With the surge in popularity of post-apocalyptic stories and the apparently never-ending popularity of vampires, it was only a matter of time before we’d get hit with a combination of the two.
Yes, that’s right. Julie Kagawa’s The Immortal Rules is set in a future United States, where the few humans who have survived the plague now have to contend with the rise of the vampires—as well as creatures who are even more bloodthirsty. Our heroine is Allie, a vampire-hating street rat...who gets turned into a vampire.
Read the last Bookshelves of Doom on Cate Tiernan's paranormal YA thriller 'Immortal Beloved.'
Except for the action sequences—which are consistently awesome, start to finish—my progress through the first third was so slow-going that I considered putting it down. My reasons?
First, the explanation of the world—or, at least, the world as Allie knows it—is done almost all at once, in a pages-long voiceover. It’s a serviceable method for getting a lot of information across quickly, and it’s likely that most readers will find it inoffensive, but it was a whole lot of tell-tell-tell (as opposed to show-show-show) for my delicate sensibilities.
Second, I couldn’t wrap my mind around Allie’s relationship with Stick. Sure, he arouses her white-knight tendencies, but it’s really, really hard to empathize with that when he appears to be absolutely devoid of any attractive qualities.
Third? Third is Allie’s sire, Kanin. Like so many Mysterious Vampire Heroes before him, he is cold and aloof, but betrays his carefully hidden feelings through regular Eyebrow Quirks and Faint Smiles. He’s fond of long-winded exposition, tortured by a guilty past, doomed to forever obsess about righting the wrongs he’s done, says things like “My road must always be traveled alone,” and probably wears a lot of black silk shirts.
On the bright side, while Kanin’s the personification of the Romantic Brooding Vampire, he and Allie do not get romantically involved. And once they parted ways, I got much more invested in the book—Allie starts to see that the whole vampire thing isn’t as black and white as she’d imagined, and even better, the action ramps up, and she gets seriously badass with her katana. So, no, I’m not singing from the hilltops about it,* but I’ll definitely be reading the sequel.
Lastly, a note about the cover art. Due to passages like the following, I think it’s pretty clear that Allie is of Asian descent:
My reflection stared back at me, a dirty-faced girl with straight black hair and “squinty eyes,” as Rat put it.
“Or maybe I’ll just save it for that sweet little Asian doll. We don’t get many whores through here, do we, boys?”
“I should have known,” he said, coming forward. “I should have known you would be drawn to that. It’s very fitting, actually.”
“It’s perfect,” I said, holding up the sword. “What is it, anyway?”
Kanin regarded me with amusement. “What you’re holding is called a katana.”
The girl on the cover? Doesn’t jive with my vision of Allison Sekemoto.**
*Because while it’s true that I was invested, my issues persisted: there are some coincidences that Seriously Push It; some inconsistencies in the world-building (why would the vampires ransack churches if religious iconography has no effect on them?); and the depiction of Ruth’s character was as problematic as Stick’s, though in a different way. (I’m not going into it, as it’s pretty spoiler-y, but there’s an aspect about her storyline that would make for some great discussion.)
**OK, also? Why isn’t her tear (vampires cry blood) coming from her tear duct?
Let's be honest. If she isn't writing Bookshelves of Doom or doing her librarian thing, Leila Roy is most likely being tragically unproductive due to the shiny lure of Pinterest.