Ah, a bit of a return to the terrifying vampires we once knew! The Immortal Rules was fantastic! Despite Readiculously Peachy's assurances, I was a little afraid this would turn out to be just another book with too-human vampires. It didn't.
Here we have another dystopian world where the vast majority of the human population is starving. The government(s) control the food. But instead of making this dependence a requirement, Miss Kagawa took a different approach. The world is ruled by vampires but, after the Red Lung virus breakout, they are very careful with their food source. The registered humans let the vampires draw their blood and the vampires give them food. The catch? You don't have to be registered. But there's a high price to pay to be unregistered. The Unregistereds have to scavenge for food; starvation is always a worry and the vampires won't give them a single grain. The price of theft among the Unregistereds is death. There is no mercy for an Unregistered. Allison is an Unregistered. Eventually, Allison finds herself becoming a vampire, fleeing the only home she's ever known, and traveling with a group of humans.
I have to say, I enjoyed the fact that even though The Immortal Rules is dystopian, it doesn't feel like it. The writing was gripping and the world building was very well done and well thought out.
My favorite aspect of this book (by far) is the element the vampires bring to it. I haven't read very many vampire books but Miss Kagawa's balance between the traditional viciousness of these monsters and our desire to see something human is astounding. Let's face it, we don't really want to read about a flat out monster for a main character. We want a character with more conflict and levels than what a blind monster could ever give us. (This also goes for the characters the MC interacts with.) If they're just flat out monsters, then it isn't interesting. At the same time though, no one wants to read about a vampire that seems more human than monster. Whether or not you've read it or not, we all recognize Bram Stoker's Dracula as the universal image of a "real" vampire. Dracula is refined in his interactions with others but he's clearly a monster.
Miss Kagawa clearly states and reminds (through the characters of course) that Allison (after becoming a vampire) is a monster. Her only decision was what type of monster she would become. Her mentor (Kanin) clearly lays the facts out. She would eventually kill someone. It wasn't a question of if so much as when. This distinction is paramount. It draws the line exactly where I as a reader want it. I want to see Allison struggle to keep her humanity, but I don't want a wimpy sparkly vampire either, so to speak. The balance between vampires that didn't give a crap about human life and those that did was perfect.
As far as characters go, I didn't really make very many attachments in this novel. I liked everyone but I can't say I love one specific character more than the other. Its not that I wasn't attached, this was just one of those books where I enjoyed the plot, story, and journey more so than I did maybe the individual characters. I'm not saying that the characters were boring or the dialogue was bad. But there are some books you love because of the characters and some you love just for the story. This one was the latter.
With that said, the love story was really light but a great beginning to a very complicated relationship between a vampire and human. I was expecting it to be more than it was but when I look back at it, the execution makes sense. It wouldn't be real if Allison and the love interest (Zeke) had finally kissed before they did (very close to the end). Even after I finished the book, they still were on uncertain ground. The love story is realistic for the issues that the characters have to face.
All in all, I really loved the whole concept of this world. And I loved the real vampires.