By Julie Kagawa
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Publication Date: April 24, 2012
Genre: Young Adult Paranormal
In 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.
I’m sorry to say, I didn’t hate this but I also didn’t like it as much as I expected to. A good part of the reason was the way the plot was divided – I’m not a fan of books which aren’t sweeping epics being divided into Parts with a capital P and are nearly disconnected from each other. I don’t generally like stories where the characters just wander around on foot for chapter after chapter either, my love of The Wizard of Oz excepted. And, well – it was predictable. From the characters to the plot, I had a vague feeling that I’d read or watched a lot of this before.
Allie is an Unregistered living in the Fringe, shorthand for an unmarked human blood donor to the vampires living in the untamed free-for-all space between the vampire city and the place the rabids claim. Unregistereds are forced to forage and steal to eat, books are prohibited and the punishment for getting caught doing anything the vampires don’t like is hanging which is slightly preferable to getting ripped apart by the rabids.
When her usual places to look for scraps of food to steal or scavenge are empty, Allie ventures into the rabids’ territory, and finds enough to get the other three members of her loose little gang to come with her to grab as much as they can. On the way back, they’re attacked by rabids and Allie is mortally injured. A vampire offers her the chance at immortal life and despite her hatred of vampires, Allie takes it.
Part II fires up with Allie’s maker Kanin immediately telling her she needs to forget everything about her human life. When she balks, he tells her he’ll toss her out – that’s his favorite threat, as it turns out. He offers to train her in all things bloodsucker while he spends a lot of time reading papers which probably means he’s Up To No Good. Kanin has some issues with people and they come back to try and bite (heh) him in the rear as he hustles Allie along into Part III.
This is the longest section and most frustrating part of the story for me. Allie is cast out of the vampire city, can’t stay in the Fringe and obviously can’t sit around with the rabids, so she sets out to see what’s past their territory. So she walks. And walks. Eventually she comes across a small group led by a messiah-type named Jeddediah, in search of Eden. The quiet, steadfast Zeke and little Caleb are the only two who seem to want Allie with them – the rest are either reticent or openly hostile. Fortunately for Allie and her new tendency to go up in smoke in sunlight, they travel at night to avoid the rabids. The group expresses hatred for vampires, so obviously, she hides what she is and just as obviously it eventually comes out with the predictable results because I think I’ve either seen this before or I saw it coming from a mile away. And that in a nutshell was the crux of my problem with the book.
Allie was most definitely a kick-ass girl who could take care of herself. This is a blend of post-apocalyptic, dystopian paranormal something-or-other and in this world, it’s every man for himself, a philosophy Allie embraces. She’s nearly feral in the beginning, all snarly and pitiless. By the time she got to Part II, she was more confident with her new vampire strength and for the most part, I liked that she got less snarly and more snarky. Her internal monologue was pure emo though and it lasted forever. It was one of my least favorite things about Meghan from Kagawa’s Iron Fey series as well – the characters both have a tendency to whine forever in their heads about what they are/have become and how horrible it is, that they’re monsters who don’t deserve to be happy, etc., etc. Allie’s need for blood was inconsistent which made me sigh really loudly.
Her situation with Zeke gave me mixed feelings. On one hand, I know what I was supposed to feel for the possibility of the two of them together. Zeke is a nice guy, selfless, kind, loyal and devoted which also sounds like a cocker spaniel. But no, he likes Allie a lot and supports her when he can. I can see Allie being drawn to his caretaker persona, liking how safe he made her feel. When he finds out what she was hiding, he feels betrayed but learns to separate the propaganda from the person. On the other hand, that’s sort of all there is to him. He’s a cardboard cutout of Prince Charming until he finds out what she is and the clichés kick in.
The action eventually picks up quite a bit and the story sort of got a little twisty (but with a lot more traveling, sigh), but it was a little to late for me by then. I liked the way it ended, not on a real cliffhanger but more what felt like an entry to a Part IV.
My Summary: This is much darker and more violent than Kagawa’s Iron Fey series but I’m sure it’s going to be successful, mostly because of Allie. She seemed like a great sort of superhero character and if she’s anything like the Iron Fey’s Meghan, she’ll only get better as the series goes on. I would hope that the storyline would too, that it would develop into something unique with unexpected twists and deeper emotional relationships since I know the author is definitely capable of it. For me, this wasn’t a strong opening book to a series and I don’t know if I’ll continue. Check out some other reviews though before deciding on this one.