Title: The Immortal Rules
Author: Julie Kagawa
Series: Blood of Eden #1
Release Date: April 24th 2012
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Source: Media Masters Publicity
Links: Amazon | Goodreads | TBD
Rating: 3.5 stars
Allison Sekemoto survives in the Fringe, the outermost circle of a vampire city. By day, she and her crew scavenge for food. By night, any one of them could be eaten.
Some days, all that drives Allie is her hatred of them. The vampires who keep humans as blood cattle. Until the night Allie herself is attacked—and given the ultimate choice. Die
or become one of the monsters.
Faced with her own mortality, Allie becomes what she despises most. To survive, she must learn the rules of being immortal, including the most important: go long enough without human blood, and you will go mad.
Then Allie is forced to flee into the unknown, outside her city walls. There she joins a ragged band of humans who are seeking a legend—a possible cure to the disease that killed off most of humankind and created the rabids, the mindless creatures who threaten humans and vampires alike.
But it isn’t easy to pass for human. Especially not around Zeke, who might see past the monster inside her. And Allie soon must decide what—and who—is worth dying for.
OMG, look! It’s a bird. It’s a plane. It’s another review and giveaway for The Immortal Rules.
Sick of seeing this book everywhere yet? I hope not, because then you’d truly be missing out on something fangtastic.
Being the vampire fiend that I am, I’ll be the first to admit that I’m a bit more critical of my vampire reads than any other genre I read. I can’t help it. It’s just the nature of the fang-girl in me.
So, upon discovering that Julie Kagawa, the same author who enchanted me to the wickedly awesome world of the Fae when I thought fairytales were lost on me, was next going to be releasing a vampire series, I squee’d in my pants. And when the ARC of The Immortal Rules arrived at my doorstep, the first thing I did was sink my imitation fangs into it.
The Immortal Rules is a perfect example of why I don’t like to give up on books. I have the hardest time DNF-ing books, and it’s because somewhere in the back of my mind, I have that endless hope that even if I don’t really like the beginning of the story, things will get better. And fortunately, most times it does, as was the case with Allison’s tale.
In a effort to not give too much away, and this is coming from the girl who loves spoilers but still refused to read a single review for this book so my reaction could be completely authentic (yes, that is how seriously I take my vampires), I’ll say the latter half of The Immortal Rules is where Kagawa truly shined, with her slow but extremely intense take on one girl’s journey to take the world. It pains me to admit this, but I had my doubts because the beginning half of the novel was predictable and, well, kind of boring.
Initially, my main problem was with Allison. Her TSTL moments piled up faster than I could bear. Plus, the one thing I’m always looking for in stories about vampires is that one unique quality that makes the author’s interpretation of my beloved bloodsuckers stand out from the norm. Yes, keep the fundamentals intact, but also give me something different, something exciting. Much to my dismay, everything about the way the vampires fed to the way they turn others into the undead was very standard and familiar in Kagawa’s novel, and I failed to identify one single quality that would brand her vampires to her.
Those first disappointing impressions aside, I was beyond thrilled when I discovered that the story found more solid footing almost from the start of Part III of the novel. Not surprisingly, this was also when the boy showed up. Yes, I’m that shallow, but come on! Who has the power to resist swoon worthy boys? And the turn in tone finally make me feel wholly invested in Allie and her plight. Now, I can’t wait to get more.
Maybe it’s wrong of me to do this, but I always judge a book by how easily or not it is for me to put it down. Does it erase time by capturing my attention from the start, or is it one that I could leave on my bedside table for a few days in between passages? I may have had a rocky start with The Immortal Rules, but ultimately, I was left breathless, desperately needing just one more shallow gulp of air in the form of another page to keep me until next year.
Thanks to Media Masters Publicity and Harlequin Teen I have a hardcover copy of The Immortal Rules to give away! To enter, please fill out the Rafflecopter form below. Giveaway is open to US and Canada mailing addresses only.
Narrators: Kate Simses & Jack Riccobono
Audiobook: 9 hrs & 50 mins
November 1st 2011
Amazon | Audible | Goodreads
In search of a future that may not exist and faced with the decision of who to share it with, Cassia journeys to the Outer Provinces in pursuit of Ky — taken by the Society to his certain death — only to find that he has escaped, leaving a series of clues in his wake.
Cassia’s quest leads her to question much of what she holds dear, even as she finds glimmers of a different life across the border. But as Cassia nears resolve and certainty about her future with Ky, an invitation for rebellion, an unexpected betrayal, and a surprise visit from Xander — who may hold the key to the uprising and, still, to Cassia’s heart — change the game once again. Nothing is as expected on the edge of Society, where crosses and double crosses make the path more twisted than ever.
I loved Matched, despite the fact that it left me worried. After Ky was hauled off, I didn’t see a way for Cassia to go after him without jeopardizing her place in the Society. Because of that, I was eager to pick up Crossed to see where the story and characters would go.
I don’t know if it’s because I listened to the audiobook, or because it’s been over a year since I read book one, but Crossed lost me. Instead of giving me concrete answers as to exactly what the Society is, and who rules it, and where does it rule, and how does it know all, Crossed just added more questions to the mix, like, what is the Rising, who runs it, who is the pilot, what is the Warming, who is the Enemy, and most importantly, why should I care?
I was rather surprised to find the world building in such disarray. I kept trying to map out the structure of it in my mind, but I couldn’t come up with anything that made sense.
Shaky world building aside, I was happy to be reunited with the characters, and since I’m a big fan of duel narration, I was excited about the fact that I’d get to listen to Cassia and Ky’s POVs. It was thrilling to hear about their struggles and fears and hopes straight from them. But my biggest issue with Crossed was that I didn’t feel like there was much of a story in it.
The prose, while beautifully crafted in Condie’s unique style, was a bit too flowery for my taste, and as a result, I felt Crossed read more like a poetic philosophy or a obscure metaphor rather than like a tale about a boy and a girl trying to find a way to be together.
I remember finishing Matched and really pulling for Cassia and Ky despite the odds they faced. But after reading Crossed, I’m not so sure they are right for each other. In Crossed, as their difference desires became more apparent, I felt them drifting apart in a way that saddened me, especially when it started to seem like they were more in love with the “idea” of one another than their actual other. I mean, I can certainly understand couples wanting different things, that’s bound to happen, but big picture things should be shared. And Ky’s resistance to accept Cassia’s ‘big’ thing felt like a plot device used to create tension between them, which I didn’t care for at all.
Aside from that, the audiobook narrators did a great job. Cassia’s voice sounded much younger than Ky’s though, and that was a bit uncomfortable and took some getting used to, but overall, I enjoyed it. There was some weird music played in the middle of the book to add an ominous feel to a tragic scene that I didn’t care for, but the switching of narrators kept the story moving when I otherwise would have put it down.
All These Things I’ve Done
Length: 10 hrs and 11 mins
Narrated by Ilyana Kadushin
Audible | Goodreads | TBD
In 2083, chocolate and coffee are illegal, paper is hard to find, water is carefully rationed, and New York City is rife with crime and poverty. And yet, for Anya Balanchine, the sixteen-year-old daughter of the city’s most notorious (and dead) crime boss, life is fairly routine. It consists of going to school, taking care of her siblings and her dying grandmother, trying to avoid falling in love with the new assistant D.A.’s son, and avoiding her loser ex-boyfriend. That is until her ex is accidentally poisoned by the chocolate her family manufactures and the police think she’s to blame.
Suddenly, Anya finds herself thrust unwillingly into the spotlight–at school, in the news, and most importantly, within her mafia family.
Feels like forever since I’ve read a dystopian type novel (actually the last one I read was in July), and I think All These Things I’ve Done did a good job of easing me back into the genre.
After Anya Balanchine is accused of poisoning her ex-boyfriend, her life quickly beings to spin out of control. Faced with the pressure of managing her responsibilities at school and home, Anya must learn to how to follow in her father’s footsteps as more obligations being to demand her attention. Soon, Anya finds that getting the family crown passed down to her and become a Mafia princess was the easy part, because ruling the family business is deadly.
To be honest, what I enjoyed most about All These Things I’ve Done was the setting. Since the story takes place in the distant(ish) future, it paints a realist portrayal of what life could actually be like. Resources have been depleted. Food and water must be rationed. International travel and trade has ceased. Alcohol for minors is no biggie, but coffee and chocolate is illegal.
It’s our world, but set in Anya’s time, and it’s stark and gritty. I had no trouble imagining the grimness of how life could be in this type of future, especially since the story starts off strongly by subtly adding in small details of the changes you’d expect to find in such a world.
But I do have to admit to feeling disappointed with the characters. They had a ‘meh’ flare about them that they carried throughout the story, underwhelming me at every turn of the page, and I never found myself becoming particularly attached to or caring about what would become of them.
Of course, my biggest disappointment was the romance. While it was slow building, which is a type I usually enjoy, it also felt so staged to me. First, Anya and Win are characterized as complete opposites and hello, reader, opposites attract, right? Then they’ve got that whole forbidden romance thing going on because she’s the daughter of a slain Mafia boss and he’s the DA’s son. Come on reader, you know forbidden romances are supposed to make you swoon!
Yeah, as you can probably tell, I didn’t care for how crafted their ‘love’ felt. It was more of a ‘let’s stick it to the man’ type of relationship that might have worked better had Anya and Win not felt so conjoined by standard formulas.
The audiobook narration by Ilyana Kadushin was fantastic, and kept me interested in the story for longer periods than I would have been able to accomplish on my own. If I had read this book instead of listened to it, I probably would have put it down several times, not really caring if I returned to it days or weeks later, but Kadushin performance was very entertaining. Her voice for Anya was young and angst filled. I could hear her inflictions of annoyance and anger at the appropriate times as the situations came up in Anya’s life.
One thing I did find refreshing about All These Things I’ve Done is that it didn’t end on a cliffhanger, but it does hint at more to come. And though I’m unsure as to whether or not I’m interested in following up on the next chapter in Anya’s life, I do wish her the best.
Overall, I found All These Things I’ve Done mildly entertaining and say it’s a good library find; one that would be even better if you can find it as an audiobook.
Challenge(s): 111 in ‘11 Challenge, 2011 Audio Book Challenge
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Hardcover, 320 pages
August 3, 2011
Amazon | Goodreads | TBD
In a world shrouded in fear and lies, how can you shed light on the truth?
Sixteen-year-old Neva lives in Homeland, an isolated country separated from the rest of the world by the Protectosphere. The government insists there’s nothing beyond its borders, but as Homeland’s resources dwindle, people, girls mainly, have started to go missing. If there’s no way out of the Protectosphere, where are they going? Suspecting the government is lying about everything, Neva and her friends stage a Dark Party in the hope of uncovering the truth and finding the freedom they dream about.
In Six Words: Only the dark reveals the truth.
In the future, I’m destined to be a drone. It’s a sad truth I’ve come to realize (and accept) the more I read dystopian fiction about the government controlling populations. Go ahead and assign me a husband and monitor my calorie intake. Since I’m not doing so great managing those things on my own, I’m sure I’d appreciate the assistance. LOL
With a premise reminiscent of other dystopian fiction I’ve read recently (Awakened, The Third, Matched), at first I believed Dark Parties wouldn’t necessarily offer anything exciting to genre for me. So I was delighted to be proven wrong while reading about Neva’s isolated world.
Neva and her best friend, Sanna, have lived under the dome of the Protectosphere all their lives. The government has told them that it is for their own good, but Neva still remembers stories her grandmother used to tell her about people who looked different and had more freedoms. Determined to find out if life outside the electric panels of the Protectosphere really is as dire as it’s becoming inside, Neva begins a search for answers that just may force her to abandon the only existence she has ever known.
So just how did I find Dark Parties to be different from others in the herd? Well, I’m still asking myself that same question, but somehow the story managed to surprise me, especially because it focused on the fact that growth of the population in the Protectosphere was encouraged even as the resources were dwindling. But why? Who exactly runs this place and why to they believe in the reproduction efforts? Though these curiosities were never answered, it stunned me to discover just exactly how the government was forcing young girls to procreate.
While Neva’s plight against the system held some intrigue, neither of the two-dimensional love interests in Dark Parties appealed to me. In fact, in a very Katniss-like fashion, Neva was determined not to have sex because she didn’t want to bring a baby into the same kind of life of scares resources and commonness as the one she has lived thus far. This is not to say that Neva was immune to sexual desires, and that was another element of the story that surprised me. The sexual themes in Dark Parties seemed to want to intoxicate the reader as much as the government wanted to impregnate Neva, which was a bit disturbing, especially after you take into count that the story established early on that contraceptives were non-existent.
As a generalization, the only thing I haven’t liked about dystopian fiction that goes the government control route is the message that it sends about equality. It’s almost as if it wants to say our advocating for equal rights among race, religion, and sexual orientation will only prove to be disastrous. Look what happens when we get it. Everyone becomes so much the same that no one stands out. Now we are a society of inbreeds, incapable of seeing how our need for equality actually lead to the downfall of our ethnicity and uniqueness. Messages like this heat me up, but that is a rant for another day.
While it many have not added anything shockingly new to the genre, Dark Parties didn’t feel like a regurgitated story. It was a fast, effortless read that had me hoping Neva would find the kind of future she’d been willing to fight for.
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Challenge(s): 111 in ‘11 Challenge, Debut Author Challenge
Paperback, 272 pages
Cedar Fort, Inc.
April 8, 2011
Amazon | Goodreads
When Ransom Lawe, a recycler in the Pacific Northwest, finds out his wife is pregnant with their third—and therefore illegal—child, he’s forced to choose between the government who proclaims a desire to save the planet and his hope for a place where his family can live in freedom. But with the Census Bureau Sentinels closing in on his wife and unborn child, Ransom’s choice will either save his family or tear them apart forever.
Abel Keogh offers a stark and haunting look at a not-so-distant future in this chilling new novel. Crossing lines between good and evil, freedom and oppression, and political and environmental responsibility, The Third is a gut-wrenching tale of intense loyalty and unconditional love.
The most gripping aspects of this story was how it presents a future that is entirely possible, and most likely probable.
The year is 2065, and the world is a very different place from today. Instead of a future with kids playing at the park on their hoverboards or travel through teleportation (which I was really hoping someone would invent), our societies have destroyed the planet, and the consequences are harsh. People are barely scraping by, living off rations, limited supplies of water, and reused medical equipment. No one drives cars anymore because of high carbon taxes.
Since the main problem is that there is not enough food to feed everyone, strict population laws have been enforced. Each married couple is only allowed to have two children. If they break the law, they are immediately arrested.
So when Ransom Lawe’s wife, Teya, reveals that she is three months pregnant with their third child, it presents quite a problem for the couple.
From the moment I started reading this book until I finished it, I had a shuddering chill running through me. The world Keogh created felt so real, yet he didn’t have to elaborate much for me to be able to get a picture of how things were. Our civilization was in such a dire state, and I was completely disgusted with it.
In a place where survival of the fittest is the only thing that matters, I found myself horrified by how cruel humanity had become. Small kindnesses were few and far between. Still, Ransom was an honorable man. He risked his welfare to help a stranger which took him on a path that few would follow.
This book never stopped stirring emotions in me. Even while I raged over the injustice of the revoked rights to freedoms we take for granted today, like having as many children as you want, I still found myself completely frustrated with Teya’s actions. Part of me thought her to be admirable, part of me thought she was completely selfish and put her family at too great of a risk. Either way, I was torn between wanting the family to find a way to keep the baby or to just give in to the law.
I did find bits of the prose and dialogue to be somewhat awkward, but in the world that Ransom lives in, people are no longer comfortable with one another, so it worked well for the story.
Very thought provoking read with and ending that breaths new hope into uncertain times.
Challenge(s): 111 in ‘11 Challenge, The All Male Review Challenge