Okay, let’s get this out of the way: Is it just me, or is that cover seriously channeling Neve Campbell in Scream? It was funny picturing Sidney Prescott as an ass-kicking vampire. Anyways, onward we go…
Allison Sekemoto is one of the many thousands of people living in poverty in the outskirts of New Covington, a vampire city. Citizens who are Registered (and are required to give blood monthly to the vamps) live in the inner city and presumably lead comfortable lives, but those who choose to remain Unregistered essentially do not exist and are left to their own devices out in the Fringe. Even though they claim to be civilized, the vamps still swoop in and kidnap people from time to time, and to add to the mix, there are blood thirsty creatures, called rabids, roaming about that will stop at nothing to kill you once they have picked up your scent.
Allison has spent years in the Fringe, fighting starvation and evading vamps and rabids alike. The vampires caused the death of her mother when she was a child and Allison hates them with a passionate fury. That is, until the night she is attacked by rabids and a lone vampire offers her the option of a quick death or a life as a vampire. Though she hates them, Allison doesn’t want to die, and she begins a new life as a vampire. This path leads her on a journey across the country, and she meets up with a group of people that leads her to face the choice of whether she will fall into her new role as a soulless monster, or if she will try to save the humanity she has left within her.
I’ve gotten to be picky about my paranormal YA because as much as I love it, the vampire craze and the Twilight books have led to an insurgence of some truly mediocre books touting themselves as action, but are really just flimsy covers for angsty teen romance. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind a little romance when it’s done well, but schmooping about and needless brooding do nothing for me. Anyways, Taralovesbooks gave this a positive review, so I decided to give it a go, and I am so glad I did. This book kicked ass. Allison is a tough, no-nonsense protagonist, and not in the sometimes quite unbelievable and convenient ways you find in some of the dystopian and/or paranormal stuff out there, but in the way that you can tell this is a girl who has spent her life surviving and will do whatever she has to do to protect herself. As you can imagine, this sort of life often does not involve taking the moral high ground and Allison is not afraid to get her hands dirty.
There are really three stories at play here, Allison’s life in the Fringe, her training by her sire, Kanin, once she has turned, and her parting with Kanin and meeting up with this group of travelers. The stories are nicely weaved together and though some of the plot lines feel familiar, they never ring false. Every decision made and every situation faced feels organic to the story, and all the plot progression and character development is natural and hard earned by the characters involved. Another thing I appreciated was that Kagawa wasn’t afraid to harm her main characters. I don’t root for characters’ deaths, but when an author sets up a dangerous, likely fatal, situation and then magically creates an escape or rescue for them, it deflates all of the tension out of the story (*COUGH* CASSANDRA CLARE *COUGH*). When a character is hurt or killed, it shows that the stakes (heh, stakes) are high and very real.
Overall, this was just a really excellent book, well plotted and paced and full of characters I was rooting for. I gave this a 4 because it takes a lot for me to hand out a 5, but really this was more of a 4.5. I would recommend this to anyone who is a fan of vampire and YA paranormal stories.