Jillian -always aspiring-'s Reviews > The Immortal Rules

The Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa
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's review
Jan 14, 2011

it was ok
bookshelves: 2012-reads, disappointing-books, could-have-been-better, left-me-feeling-drained
Recommended for: Fans of vampire and/or post-apocalyptic novels
Read from April 15 to 17, 2012

In a perfect world, Julie Kagawa's The Immortal Rules and I would have been best friends. Look what the story has to offer: A vampire-ruled post-apocalyptic world! The return of vampires who are blood-drinking monsters and not brooding lovers! A heroine who wields a katana and kills zombie-like vampires with it!

What could go wrong with any of this, you ask? Sadly, a lot could -- and did, at least for me.

In the vampire city of New Covington, Allison "Allie" Sekemoto (yes, she's of Asian descent -- and, no, the cover does not reflect this in the least) lives life on the fringe of society. She's an Unregistered, someone who isn't listed in the system and who doesn't need to have monthly blood draws -- but there's a downside: being Unregistered also means that you're on your own as far as food goes. Therefore, Allie does what she can to survive, even though doing so means joining a gang and eating whatever she can find (even if that means moldy or maggot-infested food). What follows is a story of survival turned on its head as Allie ends up becoming what she hates the most yet still strives to survive against vampire and human alike...

When I started The Immortal Rules, I really expected a story that would amaze me with its world-building, its characterization, and the "Us Vs. Them" mentality (of humans and vampires coexisting in a society). Sadly, none of it really left an impression on me.

One of the most disappointing things about Kagawa's novel is that, rather than be a new entity unto itself, it seems a patchwork creation of plot elements that have been explored in other vampire-centric stories. You have a girl who fights the monster inside herself even as she strikes down bloodthirsty creatures to protect the people she cares about. That story was explored in the 2005 anime Blood+ . You have a seemingly incurable strain of virus that destroyed nearly the entire human race and turned many into creatures bent on devouring the humans who have survived; even though all seems hopeless, some humans still search for a cure even if it means sacrifices along the way. The 2007 film I Am Legend (based on the novel of the same name) already followed such a post-apocalyptic scenario -- and in a two-hour film, not almost 500 pages! I can understand some similarities: after all, vampires have become a product of pop culture, over the past 30 years especially, so it stands to reason that someone writing a vampire novel would (unconsciously or not) draw inspiration from other works already out there. But here's the thing: the work needs to stand enough new ground on its own that it can be seen as something not entirely derivative of components seen in other works within the genre. In my opinion, The Immortal Rules is more derivative than innovative, so my reading experience wasn't as enjoyable as I had hoped it would be.

I can't say I felt the nearly 500-page length was justified either. As I read through the novel, I couldn't help but note long stretches where nothing of importance happens. The first part ("Human") kept me fairly intrigued, but I felt my interest wane with each successive chapter. Though Kagawa had a good handle on keeping the mundane passage of time (such as days or weeks) to a few paragraphs, the overall feel of the novel to me was one of monotony, even despite some action scenes that should have helped to keep me riveted. Nothing surprised me in this novel even though I so wanted to be on the edge of my seat, glued to the story and desperate to find out what happened next.

Aside from all of that, what really annoyed me about this novel is that it suffers from something I'm going to call the "Strong Girl Spotlight," where the heroine is the only "girl of worth" in the novel. In a world of mainstream fiction and media dominated by male main characters, why would such a thing (a strong female main character) bug me? Well, I believe that a story shouldn't get props just for having a strong female character as a lead. I mean, what does it say about the story if (a) the only "important" girl in the plot is the heroine, (b) all the other girls in the story are much "weaker" (physically, mentally, emotionally, what have you) by comparison to the heroine, and (c) the only other notable female character is mostly defined by her hatred for and jealousy of the main character? Thus, I can't say this story won any feminist badges from me. Believe me, I wanted to love Allie as a character, as a strong heroine surviving as best she could in a crummy world -- but I felt maneuvered to like her, especially with the lack of any other likable or notable female characters.

With all that being said, I think that people who enjoy vampire novels, post-apocalyptic novels, or both will likely come away liking The Immortal Rules, even despite its flaws and the similarities to other post-apocalyptic tales. This is just one of those cases where I'd say, "Try it from the library first if you want to read it." As for whether I'll continue on and read the next book in the series...well, I guess I have a year to decide.

(Note: I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley.)
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Reading Progress

21.0% "This vampire hierarchy reminds me suspiciously of the one in the manga Vampire Knight." 1 comment
40.0% "Lovely. There's finally another (named) female character, yet she's "hostile" to the heroine. No matter how "badass" of a female character Allie may turn out to be, this book won't win any points with me if she's the only "girl that matters" in the story." 6 comments
40.0% "Also, Zeke's last name is "Crosse"? Okay, now I definitely don't feel stupid for comparing some parts of this story to Vampire Knight since "Cross" was the last name of a few characters (Yuki and Kaien) in VK." 3 comments
48.0% "Well, everything I feared about Ruth's characterization is coming true: she's the "bitch" stereotype who hates the heroine for no other reason that just being a seeming rival for a boy's affections. (This stereotype needs to die in YA because other media already have enough petty girl-hates-girl drama.)" 3 comments
65.0% "You know, I sometimes found myself surprised by the developments in the Iron Fey books, but I'm not experiencing any of that with this book. I don't know. All of it's just a bit too obvious in the twist department for my liking."
66.0% ""If I see you again, I'll kill you." - Well, that line just reminded me of the parting scene between two characters at the end of part one of the Vampire Knight manga..."
68.0% "*sigh* Now this Allie-slaying-rabids development simply reminds me of the Saya-slaying-chiropterans bits in the Blood anime franchise."
92.0% "I...don't know what to say. That development just proved how "worthless" the one other (most mentioned) female character in this novel was, and that pisses me off to no end."
03/14/2016 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-24)

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Blythe You should definitely read this! I really liked it!

Blythe Can't wait to see what you think of this!

Angela Hah, I'm going to write my review of this in the morning and I also will give it two stars. Until then, I am going to keep my eyes away from your review and check back after I get my own thoughts down. :)

message 21: by ~Mindy Lynn~ (new)

~Mindy Lynn~ I just requested this book at my local Library. After reading your's and other's reviews, I think I may cancel it...

Blythe Great review! Sorry you didn't really like it too much, though!

Angela Jillian -always aspiring- wrote: "Angela - I was so disappointed by it, Angela, especially with all the favorable reviews I'd read! :( Anyway, I look forward to reading your review. (It'll be interesting to know if some of the same..."

Oh, now I want to peek at your review so badly, but I will keep myself away. Discussion to come....

Katie Okay, about the "maneuvering" to like the MC, I feel like this happens ALL THE TIME and is why I dislike so many of the "kick butt" heroines. They all feel contrived to me, like we're supposed to like them because they can roundhouse kick or something. Just because you're tough doesn't make me like you. It's cool, I'll admit, but the rest of your personality needs to be cool. I think I'm just sick of the "chosen one" mentality of so many paranormals. I'd like to see the average MC who just sorta stumbles into this magical world and isn't integral to its existence. Where is THAT book?

*steps off soapbox* lol

message 17: by ~Mindy Lynn~ (new)

~Mindy Lynn~ KM wrote: "Okay, about the "maneuvering" to like the MC, I feel like this happens ALL THE TIME and is why I dislike so many of the "kick butt" heroines. They all feel contrived to me, like we're supposed to l..."

*clapping hands* lol

Katie Jillian -always aspiring- wrote: "You're definitely right, KM. We seem to have the "loved-by-or-lusted-after-by-every-guy damsel-in-distress," the "strong-girl-who-can-take-care-of-herself-and-needs-no-one," or a mixture of the two..."

Yeah, the fantasy element is definitely a motivator for one of those three archetypes. But I think it would be just as interesting to watch an ordinary person in a fantastical setting, just sort of muddling through. It could be not only funny but also really poignant, you know? Kelly Creagh's NEVERMORE was like that, and I loved it!

message 15: by Kay (new) - added it

Kay That's disappointing to hear. I'll probably just get it from the library or something, instead of buying it.

Angela ^YES. A thousand times yes re: everything you said above in your review.

I actually was a good little reviewer and didn't let myself read yours until after I finished writing mine, which I just posted. We seem to have had a lot of the same qualms with it, likely resulting in our similar ratings.

Angela Jillian -always aspiring- wrote: "I read your review just now, Angela, and I agree: we do seem to be on the same page with what we didn't care for about this novel. Do you think you'll be reading the sequel?"

Will I read the sequel? Probably not, unless the blurb sounds really intriguing. I just can't imagine slogging through another 500 pages of the same. You?

Angela Jillian -always aspiring- wrote: "I guess that depends on whether or not the sequel will be available on NetGalley. All of Kagawa's novels thus far have been available there pre-publication; I don't see why Harlequin Teen would stop all of a sudden. (Plus, HT has yet to revoke my auto-approved status with their galleys, so..."

Seems like a fair plan. I would probably do the same if I could get the e-galley too. Unfortunately, I have yet to be approved for anything on NetGalley and only one item on Edelweiss, so my prospects don't seem too promising. Guess we can think about this quandary about this time next year, eh? ;)

Terry (Ter05 TwiMoms/ MundieMoms) I just finished it and haven't done my review yet, but am also giving it two stars. Kind of glad to read that someone else felt the same way. I really wanted to like this book.

message 10: by Francene (new)

Francene Carroll I enjoyed your review so much it inspired me to write a blog post on the "strong girl spotlight."


Maya now that I've read the book myself ... yep, the author definitely didn't have the time to be creative.

Hera I completely agree with the "Strong Girl Spotlight" point you made. That's something that really bugged me about this book. There were so few girls in this book and no female friendships, but the author just had to bring in the Bitchy archetype. The unwarranted hatred and jealousy aside, it made no sense for a character like Ruth to exist (in my opinion). And not only was she physically weak and a "bitch" (according to the protagonist), she also failed to look after her little brother. That aspect of the book just frustrated me so much.

Loons I agere with your review. Just Bought the book on my kindle and now i regret buying it. The human chapter left me intruiged but now when im a few chapters into the vampire part, im just bored and feel like im gonna keep reading. Pretty obivious already who kanin is and why hes staying at the hospital.... This story just left me in snooze mode so far, and it makes me sad. Dont know if i will keep reading it at all, dont feel like it tbh.

Laura You have captured exactly how I felt about this book!

message 5: by Veronika (new)

Veronika I rated the book a "one star" but I can't fault your "two stars". I think the difference between people who rated this book highly and those who didn't were that the low-rating reviewers have read books that take this intriguing premise ("What if vamps ran the world?") and produced far more intelligent and entertaining results.

I'd have rated this book three or three-and-a-half stars if I didn't have other books (and films) with which to compare it, such as "Daybreakers" (film) and "Anno Dracula" (book series by Kim Newman, now back in print) and "Empire of Fear" by Brian Stableford.

There's nothing wrong with an author gardening in well-turned earth, if he/she plants something new and fresh. This book just isn't "it".

message 4: by Veronika (new)

Veronika Not to be pedantic or anything....

But you wrote:

The 2007 film I Am Legend (based on the novel of the same name) already followed such a post-apocalyptic scenario -- and in a two-hour film, not almost 500 pages!

Which was based on the 1954 novel by Richard Matheson, "I Am Legend". This idea is 59 years old at least.

message 3: by Veronika (new)

Veronika Jillian -always aspiring- wrote: "You're definitely right, KM. We seem to have the "loved-by-or-lusted-after-by-every-guy damsel-in-distress," the "strong-girl-who-can-take-care-of-herself-and-needs-no-one," or a mixture of the two..."

It's the "Mary Sue" syndrome, where the MC is a smarter, prettier, more capable version of the author herself. You see this in Cassandra Clare's "Mortal Instrument" series (the main character is named Clary and, like the author, has red hair!). Allie Sekemoto is a Mary Sue for sure.

Thing is, what is truly memorable is seeing an ordinary person, or someone who thinks himself/herself ordinary, rise to the occasion and be a hero. Think of Frodo in The Lord of the Rings trilogy: Frodo didn't cut a heroic figure. Hobbits are actually quite comical in Tolkien's description of them, but Frodo saved Middle Earth from falling forever into darkness (and paid a heavy price for it). Frodo was a reluctant hero who was "appointed to the task" and had no particular skills or qualities that would mark him as a "hero".

The modern trend started with Harry Potter, The Boy Who Lived, who is a symbol of hope for all Muggles and wizards and so forth...unleashing a long and unbroken line of Very Special Kids/Teens Who Are Anointed To Save Us All.

Save me from the saviors, please.

message 2: by Astoria (new) - added it

Astoria Eincaster LOL, you NEVER talk about anime when you are discussing western literature. NEVER! That's rule #1.

message 1: by Jo (new) - rated it 3 stars

Jo Carter I love that you pointed out the girl on the cover isn't Asian. That bothers me every time I look at it! Which is sad, because it's actually an okay cover.

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