Vampocalypse: The Immortal Rules & The Hunt
I keep thinking YA vampire stories will eventually walk into the sun and bite it once and for all. Or at the very least hibernate for a good long while as we try to wash the glittery taste of Twilight and its ilk out of our mouths.
But then I’ll read a really good one and I’m like, “ok YA Vampire, you overused paranormal blood bag, you can stick around a LEETLE bit longer. But don’t piss me off. (And have some self-respect and stop sparkling.)”
It seems I need to go ahead and get ALL the way off my vampire-fatigued high horse. I just read not one, but TWO insanely exciting, action-packed, Hunger Games-style vampire stories that were actually fresh and original, and all I can think now is WHEN THE HECK CAN I READ THE SEQUELS??
Both stories are set in a post-apocalyptic world overrun with vampires. These vamps don’t sneak through human society, falling in love with teenage girls, or live openly in accord with humans, drinking blood out of cans bought at 7 Eleven—no, they have utterly crushed human society.
Because Andrew Fukuda’s The Hunt and Julie Kagawa’s The Immortal Rules have a lot in common—powerful large-and-in-charge vamps, brave new world post-apocalyptic settings, and general jaw-dropping badassness—it seems appropriate to review them together.
Allie has lived on the fringe of New Covington her whole life. Scrounging for food, she’ll do anything to survive—anything except becoming a vampire pet. But life without vampire protection and food is hard-scrabble and sometimes deadly, as she discovers when she is scavenging in the rabid-infested sprawl beyond the city.
After an attack, Allie is turned into the very thing she despises—a vampire. On the run from those who would harm her in New Covington, she falls into a pack of traveling humans. She’s trying hard to act and appear human. But her new vampire urges won’t be easily denied.
Gene is a human, or a “heper,” aka the tastiest delicacy imaginable to vampires. Hepers are nearly extinct in a world where vampires are the new “people.” The few hepers remaining live in captivity, and once in a while, the Ruler organizes a Heper Hunt to lift morale amongst the vampire citizens. A few lucky Hunters are chosen to chase these captive Hepers down in a bloody, delicious spectacle.
Gene has done a good job of living beneath the radar, masking all the signs of his heper-ness (smell, hair, facial expressions) and mimicking the habits of vampires perfectly. When he’s chosen for the Hunt, he knows he is in the greatest danger of his life. How can he avoid detection in a very public hunt with bloodthirsty vampires?
Since every review must have a campy “it’s blah meets blah with a touch of blah” let’s do it!
Freaky mindless rabid vamps + harrowing road trip with roving bands of horrible rapey/cannibalistic humans + badass katanas and waif-fu.
Vampire society where humans are nearly extinct + fight to the death action / chase scenes in a competition + a guy busting serious butt every day to fake being a stronger version of himself, while his inferior genes are always on the verge of betraying him.
The civilized vampires in New Covington are organized and sensible about the humans they rule, using them as labor and food, in small “donated” doses. But they’re still predators, and occasionally their hunting urges trump their practical side in a darkened alley, and another human goes missing from the streets.
Outside the vampire cities and in the tunnels beneath them are rabids, which are basically senseless I Am Legend style flesh-eating machines incapable of thought or reason. Even if you manage to escape getting ripped to pieces by a rabid, you’re likely to turn into one when bitten.
The vampires in Gene’s world seem no different from us really…until they get a whiff of heper blood. Then they turn into slavering, pouncing, howling monsters. They have strange tics like scratching their wrists instead of laughing, jerking their heads around when excited, and bizarro making out rituals. As in, “ooh baby, put your elbow in my armpit.”
If you’re a heper, living amongst vamps is a deadly game of imitation, and if you lose, the penalty is swift and merciless. Gene describes a kindergarten heper’s bad luck:
“The teacher announced nap time, and the little tyke was left standing alone on the floor clutching her teddy bear as her classmates leaped feetfirst toward the ceiling. At that point, it was over for her. Over. She might as well have taken out her fake fangs and prostrated herself for the inevitable feasting. Her classmates stared down wide-eyed from above: Hello, what have we here? She started to cry, they tell me, bawl her eyes out. The teacher was the first to get her.”
(Disclaimer: taken from the ARC, wording may have changed).
Watching Allie charge katana-first into a horde of rabids and bravely face off against much more powerful vampires is as exciting as watching a really good episode of Buffy (or any Joss Whedon show for that matter). I’m pretty Joss would be a HUGE fan of this book.
Seeing Gene wriggle out of close call after close call as he tries to keep pace with his fellow hunters without being hunted himself is heart-pounding stuff. The last 100 pages are packed with so much nonstop adrenaline, you must take care to make sure your fingernails don’t rip holes in your book/e-reader.
Did you happen to see that imprint on the spine? Harlequin, baby! Sexy-times guaranteed. If that’s not enough of a brand name for you, these two words say it all: Julie Kagawa (aka the creator of His Royal Hotness, Prince Ash from the Iron Fey series). I don’t want to give up spoilers by talking specifics, but rest assured you are in EXCELLENT hands sexy-times wise.
Gene is pretty much forbidden from showing emotion in public, lest he become the center of a gory feeding frenzy. But he does still have feelings. And the closer he gets to one competitor, the harder they become to hide. I will say that the romance has definite Hunger Games flavorings. In the best possible way.
The Immortal Rules:
These books are SO much fun and are each superbly written. I can’t decide on my favorite between them. I keep waffling back and forth. You will not regret picking up either of these books, so I say, buy them both, and read them before they hit the big screen!