The Immortal Rules By Julie Kagawa

Book one of the Blood Of Eden series, The Immortal Rules by Julie Kawaga, is one of those books that I put off reading because I didn’t care for Kawaga’s Iron Fey series. However, I read a recent review that reminded me the book existed and boasted a good read. So, I picked it up at my local library.

10215349In a future world, vampires reign. Humans are blood cattle. And one girl will search for the key to save humanity.”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.

The best thing about this book is the pacing. Throughout the story, Allison goes through many transitions. In each one, the reader is introduced to the characters and basically falls in love with them in just a few short pages and then BAM! — she moves on to the next transition and characters are falling like flies. I was surprised that Kawaga had the ability to make me fall in love with such short-lived characters with only a paragraph or two of back story. I give mad props to Kawaga for achieving such skills. I also appreciated that the main character, Allison, was constant throughout the transitions. She still possessed the strong-willed, sassy personality with bite that just progressed into pure awesome.

Kawaga created a world around Allison that seemed effortless. Now, looking back, I can see where it must have been incredibly complicated. Tied with the plot twists throughout the book, I felt like this story was well put together in every sense of the word. The characters were each distinct and the main character grew from the challenges and experiences.

I don’t know exactly how I feel about the romance between Allison and Zeke but I was definitely enthralled. It had all the elements of a young romance with sexual tension and sweet anticipation, but there was a strange difference that made me keep my distance from growing “feelings” about their relationship. I don’t know if it was because I knew Kawaga had a tendency to drop characters like flies or that the futility of the relationship just showed through, but I had a feeling that this love story would end tragically (NOT saying that it did, this is NOT a spoiler). Regardless, I really like Allison and Zeke but I wasn’t passionately rooting for them like I usually do with couples.

With that said, I really enjoyed this book. Since this story is set in the post-apocalyptic future, centuries worth of knowledge has been lost. The way Kawaga writes about some of Allison’s weird discoveries was hilarious at points. It was things that are common knowledge to us like Spaghetti-Os, SD cards, and automobiles. It definitely made me smile and I could almost visualize Kawaga sitting at her keyboard with a smirk on her face mentally patting herself on the back for her wit.

I would recommend this book. It definitely wasn’t at all what I was expecting and the plot took off in directions I wasn’t even anticipating. All I know is that I thoroughly enjoyed it. Allison is one kick-ass heroine and I loved how sensible and down-to-earth she was about life as she knew it. It was a believable approach to a practical girl in an impractical situation. I’ll be checking out the next book, The Eternity Cure, which is released on April 23, 2013. (That’s the good thing about putting off a book, once you’ve read it the next book is already almost out!!!)

STARS: 4.5 out of 5

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Pure by Julianna Baggott

Pure by Junianna Baggott was … strange, very, very strange. I liked it but it’s not for everyone.

 We know you are here, our brothers and sisters . . .
Pressia barely remembers the Detonations or much about life during the Before. In her sleeping cabinet behind the rubble of an old barbershop where she lives with her grandfather, she thinks about what is lost-how the world went from amusement parks, movie theaters, birthday parties, fathers and mothers . . . to ash and dust, scars, permanent burns, and fused, damaged bodies. And now, at an age when everyone is required to turn themselves over to the militia to either be trained as a soldier or, if they are too damaged and weak, to be used as live targets, Pressia can no longer pretend to be small. Pressia is on the run.

Burn a Pure and Breathe the Ash . . .
There are those who escaped the apocalypse unmarked. Pures. They are tucked safely inside the Dome that protects their healthy, superior bodies. Yet Partridge, whose father is one of the most influential men in the Dome, feels isolated and lonely. Different. He thinks about loss-maybe just because his family is broken; his father is emotionally distant; his brother killed himself; and his mother never made it inside their shelter. Or maybe it’s his claustrophobia: his feeling that this Dome has become a swaddling of intensely rigid order. So when a slipped phrase suggests his mother might still be alive, Partridge risks his life to leave the Dome to find her.

When Pressia meets Partridge, their worlds shatter all over again.

 I stumbled upon this book when I mistook it for another book I heard rave reviews about under the same name. I thought about scrapping it once I figured out it wasn’t the right one, but I read it anyway. This book got me thinking, but about the oddities within the story and not so much the story itself.

 Baggott has a unique writing style. Her third person view of this broken world shadowed by the Pure-filled Dome brought a lot of unique perspectives. It was interesting how each chapter progressed between the differing views of each character. Personally, I’m not a fan of this type of writing, particularly because I fall in love with one voice and I hesitate to read the next chapter because I’m annoyed in the view shift. Also, since it was in third person, I was confused at who was the dominating voice in each chapter because everyone is referred by their name. The lack of first person left me thumbing back through the pages looking for a reference of which character was talking.

 There was a well-paced build of relationships between the characters which took off rather quickly. Yet, throughout the whole book I wished for a first person view. All romance was muted due to the third person. It didn’t draw the reader in and allow them to fall in love with the characters. It was almost as if I was watching the characters through a transparent dome, seeing but not really grasping who each character was. It was really disappointing.

 Baggott came up with a crazy world. I’m all for a creative imagination and unforgiving post-apocolypic worlds but, dang, Baggott has no mercy. I’ve never read such beautifully grotesque descriptions and disturbing characters. I hope they never make this into a movie, I will NOT watch it. It’s too much to handle. I admire Baggott’s forward-thinking attitude and dabble into the biosciences and nanotechnology. It added a plausible scientific angle with the possiblity of messing with DNA. However, even though the outcome was believable, I was turned off by the hybrid creatures and the fusion of objects to body parts. I had an issue believing that people could survive fused to other people or that objects fused to organic material wouldn’t deteriorate or break from use. It’s quite frankly disgusting and this distasteful quality prevented me from fully accepting the characters.

 The second novel, Fuse, will be released in February 2013. I will most likely pick it up out of curiosity but the characters weren’t memorable enough to account for excitement. I feel like a lot of readers won’t enjoy this novel due to its grotesque nature. The plot seemed forced and too set up. For all the action, it wasn’t very exciting. The cover is pretty and the story was interesting but it doesn’t have that spark that’s needed to create book magic.  It was just strange — very, very strange.

Starters by Lissa Price

I was pleasantly surprised by Starters by Lissa Price, but I thought it could be better. The cover is really striking, though, and I did enjoy reading it.
 
A disease has wiped out a majority of the population, only the vaccinated survive leaving the really young and really old. Callie Woodland is left with only her little brother, Tyler, when her parents die; without grandparents to claim them, Callie and Tyler must live off the dangerous streets. Callie wants to make a better life for them so she resorts to renting her body at Prime Destinations. Senior Citizens “rent” out the bodies of young teens to enjoy youth again — partying, dancing, drinking, etc. After Callie decides to rent out her body for a large sum of money (enough to get them off the streets forever), Callie is shocked to find that her renter doesn’t want to party, she wants to kill.
 
This novel was really exciting to read. The concept was neat and plausible. Children and senior citizens are the first to be vaccinated, so it makes sense that they would be the most likely to survive. The disease is described as a spore (I literally had to look it up.), which again is plausible and shows that Lissa Price did a lot of research for her novel. I was impressed by Price but she didn’t completely blow me away.
 
I was initially pulled into the book, engrossed in the world Callie lives in but every once in a while the writing would be inconsistent and I felt like I was “dropped” out of the world Price created. It was like I became aware that I was reading, and where usually it reads like a visual movie in my head,  the words stuck out too much it took me out of my trance, so to speak. I didn’t like the inconsistency; it was distracting.  Hopefully, Price will perfect her writing style in the next book.
 
I loved that Callie was so devoted to her little brother, Tyler. She loved him so much she rented her body to a stranger. Can you imagine? Letting someone else use your body? It gives me the creeps, yet I can understand why she did it. The streets in Callie’s world are not forgiving and I, too, would have done whatever it took to get out.
 
Once Callie’s neurochip malfunctions and she finds herself in the rich, lavish world of her renter, the story really takes off. I enjoyed her investigation once she figures out her renter’s plot for murder. I especially enjoyed her relationship with the Senator’s son, Blake. It was the perfect amount of romance to be realistic. There was even a hint of a potential love triangle between Blake and Michael, the boy she lives on the streets with that’s taking care of her little brother while she’s being rented. I thought Price squashed potential story lines too quickly, or maybe she didn’t want a love triangle? Either way, both guys had feelings for Callie.
 
There are a lot of strange twists in this novel. It’s not the kind you “don’t expect,” but it’s so strange no one could see it coming. For example, Blake doesn’t end up being who he says he is; I kind of hated Price for awhile once that was revealed. Also, I thought there were strange references to fairytales like Cinderella or Wizard of Oz out of the blue. It left me puzzled. Was it a coincidence? Or was it supposed to mean something?
 
There was a lot of build up for the next book towards the end, however, it took away from the closure of this book. The ending seemed rushed but left a lot open for the next installment. The one thing that really made me mad was Callie’s disinterest in helping unclaimed minors like her in the end. She’s given some good luck, it disappointed me she didn’t share it. The second book, Enders, comes out December 12, 2012. It’ll be interesting to see where she goes with everything, especially the relationship between her and Blake.

Article 5 by Kristen Simmons

So I’ve continued on the dystopian bandwagon with Kristen Simmons’ debut novel Article 5. I would say this debut is pretty solid.

Ember Miller lives in a world where the Bill of Rights have been replaced by the Moral Statues and the government is abusing control over the entire country. Everything is normal until Ember’s rebellious mom is arrested for being a single mother, an offense punishable by death in this society. With the return of the boy next door, Chase Jennings, in the form of at FBR agent arresting her mom, Ember is captured and sent to an all girls rehabilitation center, where she will do anything to get her mom back with the help of the most unlikely person.

This novel was really fast-paced. The action, twists and turns, and craziness was non-stop. Ember lives in a really scary world where the first amendment doesn’t exist and freedom is just a word. I shiver at the thought of such a horrible society with no justice. The world Simmons built was unnerving almost too much so. The voice of Ember was too neutral and uncomprehending, it was like she lacked the depth to show fear or have hope. The absence of real emotions left the book sounding shallow and distant. However, the world building was crystal clear. I could see the red zones and abandoned buildings as well as the towns that still hosted civilization.

The connection between Ember and Chase was confusing at times. It turned out to be the spider-man mentality where you love someone so much you want them to stay away from you. Personally, I think that storyline is overdone but it fit with this novel. Chase has become a different person since joining the FBR as a soldier but fights who he is to be who he once was with Ember.  I understand what Simmons was trying to do but it seemed a little too forced.  There are only so many times you can hate each other one minute and then steal a kiss during a life or death situation in a novel. It was a recurring theme and it was almost like Simmons couldn’t go deeper with the characters so they just kept repeating the same actions in different settings.

The one thing that I am getting tired of seeing in Young Adult fiction lately is the heroine doing something stupid and then something bad happening to them. It leaves the reader thinking, duh! No wonder all this bad stuff is happening, she keeps making bad decisions. I am unable to sympathize with heroines that make bad decisions and end up in worse situations. For example, in this book Ember walks off on her own (this happens multiple times actually) when she knows it isn’t safe. It’s like a complete Face-Palm moment. No real person would do that! I don’t believe you, Simmons! The lack of common sense in young literary characters is getting annoying.

With that said, I found myself entertained while reading this novel if only to see what happened next. The plot line changes so quickly almost in a matter of pages. I liked how the story came together in the end with a justified feel of unity against the government. It peaked my interest enough that I’ll probably read the next installment. Article 5 is the first novel in a trilogy. Overall, the book was pretty good but not overwhelmingly great.