Why read another vampire series? What’s the appeal? Well, I can certainly think of at least three reasons I wouldn’t mind being a vampire:
Immortality (preferably locked in at an age that it would be good to keep forever, like, say late teens or early twenties)
Superpowers (always useful)
Bathroom Immunity (imagine the freedom of never having to struggle to find a clean, much less available, rest room!)
So for me, it’s fun to think about the possibilities. And if the story is well-written, as this one is, one can spend an entertaining interlude inhabiting another reality.
Kagawa sets her post-apocalyptic series in a future America newly reorganized after a virus/plague wiped out much of humanity some sixty years previously. Most people now live in cities run by vampires and walled-off from “rabids,” crazed plague-addled beings who used to be “normal” vampires before becoming infected with the mutated virus. Neither humans nor vampires are happy to encounter them. Inside the walls of the cities, the majority of humans are “registered” and are periodically required to provide blood for the vampires in exchange for food and protection. The vampires also tolerate “unregistered” humans who live along the fringes of the city, scavenge for food, and survive in any way they can.
Allison (“Allie”) Sekemoto was one of the “fringers” until she was mortally wounded by a rabid. The vampire Kanin, who witnessed the attack on her, gave Allie the choice of dying, or to continue to exist as a vampire, for which she opted, in spite of her previous loathing of vampires. Kanin then taught her how to be a vampire – what the immortal rules are, and how to fight to protect herself. He told her:
“You will always be a monster – there is no turning back from it. But what kind of monster you become is entirely up to you.”
Kanin is soft-hearted, so much so that because of his long-ago actions born out of compassion, he is now on the run for his own life. In particular, a “psycho” vampire, Sarren, wants to find him and kill him. Trying to outrun Sarren, Kanin sends Allie away to survive if she can, and get stronger.
Allie, who narrates, is “sanguine” so to speak, about her chances:
“‘It takes a lot to kill me,’ I muttered. ‘Well, scratch that. It takes a lot to kill me again. I’m already dead, remember?”
In the second half of the book, Allie encounters a small group of humans led by a preacher, Jebbadiah Crosse, and his adopted son Ezekiel (“Zeke”). They are trying to make their way to a place called Eden, where the cure for the virus supposedly exists. Allie becomes attached to this little group of people, and in addition, she and Zeke are attracted to one another. But the group doesn’t realize that Allie is a vampire. Allie fears that knowledge of what she really is will cause all of them to hate her. But how long can she keep it hidden?
Evaluation: The author does an excellent job of pulling you into the story without making the paranormal story elements seem over the top. Allie, Zeke, and even Kanin are admirable protagonists. Sarren, albeit pure evil, is identified as psychologically off-balance so he doesn’t seem too unrealistic. I definitely will be reading the sequel!
Published by Harlequin Teen, 2013