Written by: Stacey Kade
Published by: Disney Hyperion
Release date: April 23rd 2013
Genres: Romance, Sci-Fi, Young Adult
Buy: B&N, Amazon
Add on: Goodreads
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 really really enjoyed The Rules. Despite focusing on an alien/human hybrid as one of its main characters, it really didn’t feel like your typical sci-fi book, especially the first three-quarters – which felt like almost a mix of contemporary and paranormal romance.
One thing I loved about the book is the characters. Ariane is, on the surface, a normal high school girl – except for her super light hair, unnaturally dark eyes (hidden with blue contacts) and slightly gray skin. She’s actually escaped from a local laboratory, and is a half-human and half-alien hybrid. Unlike many part-human characters in sci-fi though, Ariane isn’t a part-human who wishes she were more human, or laments that she’s not fully human, or is at all conflicted about not being human. Ariane is Not Like Us, and that’s okay with her.
Ariane does wish she was able to fit in a little more easily, but only because she has to stay under the radar because she’s hiding from the people who want to take her back to the lab where she was created. She is definitely not like most “high school girl” YA narrators. I found her voice to be refreshing and often really funny, because of the things she would point out human habits, and some of her ‘misunderstandings’ because she was taught about human interactions by watching old movies and TV shows.
But only half of the book is narrated by Ariane. Zane, who tells the other half of the story, is another student at Ariane’s high school, who runs with a totally different crowd than Ariane. (Well, Ariane doesn’t really run with any crowd – she only has one good friend. She is trying to stay inconspicuous.) At first I wasn’t sure how Zane would realistically be brought into Ariane’s life, because he really had no reason to interact with her. But when Ariane’s best friend is subjected to a cruel trick courtesy of Zane’s friend Rachel, Ariane retaliates and is then targeted for Rachel’s next “joke” – and Rachel decides to convince an albeit reluctant Zane to help her out. Drama ensues – and it’s sufficiently petty enough that I’d normally not enjoy reading it – but for some reason despite the high school drama, and the stereotypical characters that surround it, Zane and Ariane held my attention.
Throughout it all, Ariane is trying to figure out how to use her alien abilities – or rather, how to unlock them again, because she hasn’t been able to use them since before she was rescued from the lab by a compassionate guard who had just lost his daughter. Ariane struggles to adhere to the 5 rules that her “adoptive” father has set out for her – basically amounting to “don’t draw anyone’s attention for any reason”. Unfortunately, the drama that she gets involved in causes her powers to flare out unexpectedly – not the best combo when trying to remain unnoticed.
And things… escalate from there. No spoilers, but there are plenty of twists and turns and unexpected happenings – once things move from “high school drama” to “sci-fi drama”, the twists just come on coming.
Another thing I really liked about this book was how Zane and Ariane both held my attention. I enjoyed reading from both of their perspectives – Ariane as she tried to navigate around humans and begins to realize that she’s possibly starting to break Rule #5, and Zane as he starts to fall for Ariane as well, and slowly starts to pick up on her oddities. I usually have a “favorite” when it comes to stories with dual narrators, but I really didn’t in this case – I found myself enjoying each character equally, never disappointed when one chapter ended and the other character picked up the story. And both their voices were unique – I never had a problem differentiating one from the other when their perspectives switched.
The Rules is a really fun and exciting take on a contemporary YA sci-fi, almost feeling like a YA paranormal romance in the beginning – except for, y’know, the whole half-alien thing. While most of the action happens in the last quarter or so, the characters are what grabbed and held my attention through the slower-but-still-engaging lead-up. The conclusion was excellent – plenty of twists and I’m definitely dying to read book 2, but there’s also just enough tied up to feel like a satisfying end. Definitely one to check out!