Author: Stacey Kade
Series: Project Paper Doll, #1
Release date: April 23rd 2013
Hardcover, 416 pages
Source: Publisher for review
Buy: The Book Depository
It has never been easier to describe a book in a single sentence. Here it goes: The Rules by Stacey Kade is the young adult and somewhat more civilized version of Alien vs. Predator.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…
I kid you not.
We have Ariane, a part alien in hiding with impressive telepathic and telekinetic powers; and Rachel, a spoiled, predatory rich girl with the tendency to bully people into submission. 80% of this book is a huge battle of wills between these two, so if you’re not a fan of high school drama and plans of revenge (no matter how justified), you’d best stay away.
Between them stands Zane Bradshaw, one of Rachel’s best friends. His brother is the city’s (and especially their father’s) pride and joy and whatever Zane does, he can’t possibly measure up. He knows he is simply not good enough, and it was finally and definitely proven a year ago when his mother left him.
When we first see Zane, we see him in the worst possible light. He is part of the in-crowd, one of the bullies, and while he doesn’t actively humiliate anyone, he doesn’t do a single thing to stop his friends either. It was hard to cease despising him long enough to actually consider his reasons, but once I did, he and I turned a new leaf. While his point of view came as a complete surprise, I started appreciating it pretty early on. I don’t think I could have understood him as well as I did if I was limited to Ariane’s point of view alone.
As for Ariane, I loved that she wasn’t a pushover. I was also fascinated by her relationship with her Father, the man who saved her from the lab and allowed her to assume his dead daughter’s identity. It was so hard for him to see some other girl, some alien girl in his daughter’s place, but still he protected her and cared for her and loved her as much as he could.
For the first six years of my life, give or take, I’d thought my name was Wannoseven. It was only after I escaped – with Mark Tucker’s help – that I learned Wannoseven wasn’t a name at all but a numerical designation. 107. Pathetic.
Perhaps this will sound a bit silly, but I generally dislike villains that are too evil. In The Rules, there are two: Rachel and her grandfather Dr. Jacobs. Both are evil to the point of being cartoonish and consequently, neither of them feels like an actual threat. A truly frightening villain has some small part you can identify with, something that makes you wonder how they got to that point. A well-crafted villain is made of many colors, and while black may be predominant, it’s certainly not the only one.
And whatever happened to worldbuilding, Ms. Kade? Mentioning Roswell does not a worldbuilding make! Perhaps more will come in future installments, but right now, I’m not even sure The Rules qualifies as sci-fi. It reads very much like a contemporary with a few weak paranormal elements.
In addition, I think this book’s biggest fault is that it’s just not memorable. After The Ghost and the Goth, I expected more from Stacey Kade – I was sure she’d give us unforgettable characters at the very least. But alas, I’m having trouble remembering their names even though I finished the book no more than five days ago. So when I compare that to names (and characters) like Froi of the Exiles, Georgia and Shaun Mason, or even Janelle Tenner, my opinion on this series becomes crystal clear.