Christal’s Review – 4 Skulls – A-
The Rules by Stacey Kade was an amazing surprise! It was filled with wonderful, sympathetic characters, a captivating storyline, and unexpectant twists and turns. I really loved this novel and am thrilled that it will be a series. I cannot wait for more stories about Ariane and Zane and am hoping the world expands even more to give us a look at other GTX-like testing facilities.
Ariane Tucker is an alien/human-hybrid that escaped from the GTX laboratory that created her with the help of her adopted father Mark Tucker. Ariane is now a teenager living in plain sight. She has five rules that she follows to keep herself hidden and out of the GTX lens. Ariane’s only real friend is Jenna and when mean-girl Rachel targets her with horrible pranks, Ariane decides to step in and protect her friend. She ends up working with popular guy Zane to take down Rachel, but can she do that and still keep her identity and her heart secret from GTX?
Ariane was an absolute delight. She wasn’t physically strong, her bones were actually even more fragile than a normal human’s, but she had incredible mental fortitude and determination. I loved her wit and found her narrative voice flawless. Once Ariane unlocked her full powers, she became a force — powerful, deadly, but still ruled by her morality. She was fascinating and I really hope that we get to learn more about both sides of her genetic make up, the human mother who carried her and the alien life form whose DNA was stolen, in the next book.
Zane Bradshaw was the misunderstood popular boy who finally became fed up with the status quo. He shared narration duties with Ariane and, even though I didn’t find his voice quite as strong as hers, he was sympathetic and relatable. Zane’s humanity was a good counterpoint to Ariane’s alieness, not only in the way they reacted to situation, but also on a surface, physical level. Where Zane was the all-American Christopher Reeve type, Ariane was small and slight, with solid, black irises, pointed features, and hair that is outside human norms in both texture and color. Zane was obviously more comfortable in the world, and he helped Ariane to relax a bit and enjoy her life. He supported her even when he didn’t know her secret and defended her in any way he could. I liked the way his relationship with Ariane developed and am happy to see a supportive, stable relationship in YA fiction.
The other characters were written well without veering too much into stereotypes. Ariane’s dad was the most interesting to me, but I also liked Rachel and the insights we got into why she acted as she did. I wasn’t expecting everything that happened with the characters and have to say that many of them surprised me in the end.
The story captured my interest from the very first page and I read this in one sitting. I loved the journey that Ariane went on and how she challenged Zane to mature with her. The plot was thrilling and surprised me at many different turns. I found the beginning just a touch slow, but everything took off once the Rachel plot started. This book wrapped up nicely with no real loose threads, but it did have a small cliffhanger. I would highly recommend The Rules to paranormal or science fiction readers of all ages!
Thank you to Netgalley and Disney-Hyperion for providing an ARC copy of this book!
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