I find myself rereading the same books over and over again, scared to start anything new in case I hate it and then revert to rereading the same books anyway to get over the disappointment of any new books I do read. It’s a very miserable way to go. Anyway, I recently heard about a series called the Blood of Eden by Julie Kagawa. I’ve never heard of the author but I know of some of her works but I knew nothing about this series. I called out to a group on Facebook asking for opinions of the series and the general consensus was “100% YES read these books”. So I took a chance and picked up the first book of the series.
The first book, The Immortal Rules, is set in a vampire city in a desolated America and follows a young Allison Sekemoto who survives with her crew by scavenging for food in the outermost section of the walled city. This city, like many surviving cities of the world, is overseen by a vampire prince and the humans are kept and managed within the city. The vampires provide food rations for those who are registered, marked by their masters, and in return, the registered humans give blood twice a month. Blood in return for some semblance of protection from the vampires. Those who are not registered are doomed to a life of scavenging and the constant threat of starvation. By daylight, the unregistered humans of the city scavenge for food in the hopes to survive each day as it comes without succumbing to starvation. But by night, any one of them, registered or unregistered, could disappear by the very masters who claim to protect them.
In the time Before, the world was destroyed by the Red Lung virus that wiped out millions of humans across the world. In an attempt to save humanity, vampires were used in experimentation to create a cure that ended up creating the rabids. These rabids are bloodthirsty mutations that threaten both humans and vampires alike. The walled city keeps these mutations out of the city but one day Allison ventures outside of the city walls in rabid territory in the search for food. This was the end of her mortal existence. She is given the choice; to die a mortal or to die and be reborn as a monster that she has spent so much of her life devoted to hating. This really plays with the idea that no matter how much you hate something, if the choice was between dying or becoming the monster you have spent so much of your life devoted to despising the choice wouldn’t be as easy or as noble as one might want to believe. When you have to fight every moment of every day just to survive it is hard to stop wanting to fight regardless of the outcome.
“But in reality, when faced with death and the great unknown that came after, my survival instinct snatched wildly at whatever lifeline was offered. I didn’t want to die. Even if it meant becoming something I loathed, my nature was, first and always, to survive.”
From the moment she opens her immortal eyes, she is determined not to be like her brethren and give in to the monster and this was one of the things I really enjoyed about Allison was her constant fight to hold on to the part of her that was human and it is a fight. To hold onto her humanity it is a constant struggle against the base instincts of vampires. Humanity isn’t a switch that can be turned on or off (I’m looking at you, Vampire Diaries) and it is obvious that there will be a point where the monster within Allison will give in to the base urges of her body. Kanin, her sire, makes this clear to her from the beginning of her immortal life as he tries to teach her the immortal rules.
“You are a monster.” Kanin’s deep voice droned in my head again, as I forced myself to move, to walk away. “You will always be a monster, there is no turning back from it. But what type of monster you become is entirely up to you.”
From the walled vampire city, Allison eventually sets out from the city without her vampire sire and meets a mismatched group of humans heading to Eden, a legendary city said to be entirely populated by humans in the search of a cure for the virus that wiped out most of the population and created the rabids. She hides her true nature from the group (who conveniently only travel at night and sleep through the day) and travels with the group, and finds herself again having to choose between following her mortal or immortal heart.
This series was a refreshing change to the vampire scene that is usually depicted in fantasy and YA novels. The constant reminder is there that vampires are neither beautiful or particularly civilized towards humans. They are savage and often selfish with little regard for life unless it actively threatens their way of life. Humans are a disposable means to an end for most. There is no “animal (vegetarian) diet” for them. They are creatures of the night and humans are afraid of them as they should be.
I did really enjoy this book, it ticked a lot of boxes for me and it had me gripping the book tighter in suspense. The book began slowly but it leads up to an action-packed story which had me entirely engrossed. The book is a lot darker than I would have expected but it definitely didn’t take anything away from the book. There is some romance to the first book although I must say that I wasn’t overly thrilled about it. Zeke is a good character with his own strength and determination to survive if only to protect those he cares for. I think I’ll need a lot more from this character in later books to really have an attachment for him though.
Kanin is a character I’d like to know a lot more about. There is little said about his life, immortal or otherwise, except the role he plays in the creation of the rabids. I would very much like for there to be more insight into his brooding character in later books.
The world building for this series is what really did it for me, I think. It was quite unlike anything I had read before without being boring or overly complicated. The rabids give me the creeps, the vampires are savage and brutal, the characters were weathered and hardened by a post-apocalyptic world but still remained very much human underneath it. I feel in love with this desperate world and its fluid story.
I have a lot of hope for the rest of the series.
Next up, The Eternity Cure.