Julie Kagawa accomplished a feat that is truly magnificent: She made me enjoy a book about vampires.
I've read a few books that feature vampires, but these types of stories are typically not my thing. More often than not, vampire books feature a human female protagonist who is lured by a man to some secretive vampire lair and forms an unwise romantic attachment to him. Her struggle often pertains to choosing between a mortal and immortal life.
In The Immortal Rules, Allie's situation is rather bleak. She's dying from a rabid attack and a stranger offers her the chance at life by transforming her into a vampire. Allie doesn't become a vampire because of some ill-conceived notion of love - she becomes one because every instinct she possesses tells her to survive no matter the cost. Allie must leave her human life behind and learn how to function in vampire society, which is a task she fights with every fiber of her being.
This book is ultimately about survival and what it means to be human. Allie's options are rather grim, but can we really fault her for being scared and wanting to survive, even if she can only attain a shell of her former life?
The thing I enjoyed the most about this story is the fact that Allie is, by definition, a monster. However, her "monstrous" actions are based on trying to survive as a vampire and they often pale in comparison to those of the human characters. Allie states while she is still human that, "It was almost better to be caught by the hungry, soulless vampires; the most they would probably do was drink your blood and leave you to die. Humans were capable of far, far worse."
In many ways, Allie's sense of humanity is heightened when she becomes a vampire. She is more willing to take risks and wants to help humans even though this desire conflicts with her perception of humans as a food source. The only thing I wasn't a fan of in the story was Zeke's character. He's too good to be true and he reminds me a lot of Peeta from The Hunger Games. I realize he's probably meant to function as a symbol for hope and his existence is supposed to be a counterpoint to Allie, the whole human-vampire love connection felt rushed and incredibly unrealistic. Zeke and Allie both save each other's lives, but I wish the author had dragged out their relationship more and had the characters form an uneasy truce rather than make a half-hearted attempt at a love story. It just didn't work for me, but maybe this aspect of the story will improve as the series progresses.