Review: The Rules by Stacey Kade


Paper DollTitle: The Rules

Author: Stacey Kade

Genre: Sci-fi, Coming-of-Age

Publication Date: April 23, 2013

Source: ARC received in a swap.

Summary: 1. Never trust anyone.

2. Remember they are always searching.

3. Don’t get involved.

4. Keep your head down.

5. Don’t fall in love.

Five simple rules. Ariane Tucker has followed them since the night she escaped from the genetics lab where she was created, the result of combining human and extraterrestrial DNA. Ariane’s survival—and that of her adoptive father—depends on her ability to blend in among the full-blooded humans in a small Wisconsin town, to hide in plain sight at her high school from those who seek to recover their lost (and expensive) “project.”

But when a cruel prank at school goes awry, it puts her in the path of Zane Bradshaw, the police chief’s son and someone who sees too much. Someone who really sees her. After years of trying to be invisible, Ariane finds the attention frightening—and utterly intoxicating. Suddenly, nothing is simple anymore, especially not the rules…

☆: 3.5/5 stars – It has all the touches that made me love Kade’s other series but keeps one detail it shouldn’t have.

Stacey Kade’s books are a barrel of fun and then some! Her Ghost and the Goth series is one of my favorites for how the relationship develops between the leads and as soon as I realized she was writing a new series, on my to-read list went The Rules. Anyone expecting the same comedic feel of her other series better adjust their expectations because this is 100% serious, though it’s just as enthralling.

Part of what makes me love Kade’s novels is that she develops her leads so well and their connection feels real. Zane and Ariane take a while to warm up to each other. They’re not polar opposites, but they’re still very unlike one another. As strong as their relationship is toward the end, they’re even stronger as individual characters! Neither has led an easy life (Ariane has been on the run for years after being conceived as an experiment; Zane’s mother left him with a father who sees his son only in terms of what Zane can do for him) and they aren’t exactly putting Band-aids on each other’s wounds, but they really do help each other. Especially when it comes to Jenna. God, I wanted to hug Ariane after the truth about Jenna came out.

The Rules is also a pretty hefty book at four-hundred-something pages, but it almost never slows down or makes you lose interest.  As the POV rotates back and forth between them, the lives they’ve led unravel themselves and bit by bit, the plot moves forward–though not always naturally. At times, it felt as if Ariane were forced to be dumb despite the higher-level thinking abilities she got from being part-alien. Like using her powers in front of cameras controlled by the corporation she’s running from? It’s too out-of-character for her for such times to be anything but forced movement of the plot. Such moments also make one twist a little too easy to see, but it stays an enjoyable novel nonetheless.

Then there are iffy lines like this one:

“If relentless optimism and determined cheerfulness were actually requirements for the cheerleading squad at Ashe (instead of heavy eyeliner and rumored sluttiness), then Jenna would have been captain (ARC p. 11).”

Now, if this series starred a character like Alona Dare, the mean-girl cheerleader heroine of Kade’s Ghost and the Goth series, I’d be okay with this line being there. The tricky part is that Ariane is nothing like Alona and this sort of line coming from Ariane feels very out-of-character. One of Rachel’s friends does it too, but this is the only time Ariane does. It’s a Big Lipped Alligator Moment.

Speaking of which, minor antagonist/high school enemy Rachel gets the short end of the stick until the very end. Her rough home life (her parents are always gone and her grandfather is the only semi-parental attention she gets) is mentioned, but Rachel is more often portrayed as a sociopath (one character actually calls her this) who likes to make others suffer. She gets one shining moment toward the end that shows she’s something more, but maybe we’ll get more character development for her as the series goes on.

Then again, considering where the characters are headed at the end of the book and how Kade’s other series went in terms of developing characters the lead hated, it’s looking very iffy.

Wherever these characters and their relationships go, I’m still on board with Kade’s newest series. She’s already proven herself as an author who gets better and develops relationships more strongly with each book. Besides, everything is setting up book two of the series to be a knockout of a book!

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