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The Rules by Stacey Kade

The Rules by Stacey Kade

The Rules (Project Paper Doll 1)

By: Stacey Kade

Release Date: April 23, 2013

Katy’s & Mitch’s Rating: 4 Stars

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…

Katy’s Review:

Not exactly what I had been expecting, but I was sucked into the story – mainly because it kept me guessing from the beginning to end.

So why four stars? Well, if you were looking something of the sci-fi/dystopian genres, this wasn’t exactly that. Because the concept pretty much disappeared for a good chunk of this book. Actually, let me back up…

My first thought after reading the prologue was, “Oh crap, this sounds a lot like Beta.” A non-human was created to replace a dead girl. But then I realized that wasn’t what the book was about.

As the story continued, I had an opportunity to learn more about Ariane – who she was, what she had to go through, who she is supposed to be now, and how she learns there is so much to the life of a typical teenager when you’re not always trying to blend in.

For a while, I started feeling that Kade lost her way when the story strayed into this vindictive plot that involved ultimate high school drama. But despite the different direction the story started taking, I still felt really intrigued by the book. For some reason, I just thought of the He’s So/She’s So series, I guess because I read the last book around the same time I read the last book in Kade’s The Ghost and the Goth series.

But then, Kade returned to the plot – as expected as the foreboding bad feeling kept looming over the situation – but the turn of events totally caught me by surprise. Kade got me so comfortable with expecting the expected that I was so unprepared to find out what had really happened.

Sorry, I can’t really say more about it or analyze the characters or the plot because I don’t want to ruin the story. (Muhahaha! A spoiler-free review! You know who you are.)

And I also liked the way the book ended. Kade didn’t stop right at that “OMG! What just happened!” moment like how many, many other writers tried to leave readers with the cliffhanger. No, she threw in yet a few more surprises before wrapping it up, yet still in a way that makes you craving for the next book.

So my initial response was, “I’m so excited I got this ARC! I like Stacey Kade’s silly stories, but this one doesn’t seem too silly.” Was it what I had expected? No, although I think some will hold that against this book. But did the book disappoint? Not at all.

Mitch’s Review:

A lot of the time, reading a book is all expectations – and it goes both ways. In this case, I really liked The Rules, but probably not for the reasons you’d expect, so as a word of warning, I think anyone picking this up expecting a science fiction thriller will be sorely disappointed because it’s actually mostly a high school revenge plot. That said, I recently wrote in another review that I’d pay good money to an author who can genuinely surprise me, and well, Stacey Kade surprised me. So because I’d like to think I’m a big enough person to be able to eat crow when that happens, well done Ms. Kade.

My expectations were pretty low after the first couple of chapters though, because I really mean it when I say most of the book is a high school revenge plot reminiscent of Steven King’sCarrie (which is even referenced in the book!!). We have Ariane Tucker, your average unassuming girl, well, except for the fact that’s she’s a half human half alien hybrid, her best friend Jenna, your insecure best friend who secretly cares more about being part of the cool crowd than being Ariane’s friend, Rachel Jacobs, your everyday spoiled resident mean girl, and Zane Bradshaw, your standard jock who starts in the mean girl’s circle but starts finding the unassuming girl more and more interesting as he starts exiting the mean girl’s orbit. It’s all standard romantic comedy material, and the only thing that really differentiatedThe Rules from an actual romantic comedy is Ariane living in constant fear of being dragged back to the lab she escaped from, all the Rules set out by her ‘father’ Mark Tucker she has to follow as a result, and occasional glimpses into her character and past about what exactly happened to her at the lab.

But for some reason, I just had to keep reading, because even though the characters were stereotypes, even if back stories like Zane dealing with his overbearing and unappreciative father or Ariane being sick and tired of hiding all the time powerless to do anything about Rachel’s clique are plots I’ve seen plenty of times before, there’s just something about Kade’s writing that had me sticking around. It’s a kind of wry humor that’s not laugh out loud funny, but no groan worthy either, so yeah, the writing kept me occupied and I probably would’ve liked this book anyway because there’s nothing distasteful, unlikable, or particularly bad about any of it, even if it’s not exactly original. After all, Ariane and Zane (who actually sounds like a guy) are likable enough, and their alternating points of view actually worked in this case, unlike in many other multiple point of view books. And ok, maybe a little part of me was still expecting a train wreck, like, how can all this high school drama possibly end well?

Except then, Kade surprised, I mean really surprised me. Just when I thought there’d be nothing to the story except high school drama, she brought back the alien hybrid on the lam plot hinted at in the summary. But not only that, she did it in a way that not only makes sense and fits with the high school revenge plot, but in a way that actually made that entire plot, heck with all the rules Ariane has to learn and all the faux fitting in she had to do, actually very relevant with the actual premise of the book – Ariane being in hiding from the people who want her back – and I don’t just mean because Rachel’s the granddaughter of Dr. Jacobs, the lead researcher of the project that created her. So amazingly, no, all that Ariane versus Rachel drama that spans most of the book wasn’t filler, it wasn’t a distraction, it was all important, it all made sense. Better yet, the climax didn’t drag at all, like despite how much Ariane was agonizing over whether her relationship with Zane would endanger him, that didn’t really come up much at all like I dreaded it would. And Kade still left enough wide open for a sequel. 

I wouldn’t exactly say The Rules is a case of me having very low expectations that the book easily exceeded, because even the revenge plot wasn’t terrible, it’s more of a case of a good enough book being great because it turned out to be exactly what I wanted it to be when at first I didn’t think it would be. I’m definitely eagerly awaiting to see what the sequel has in store.

Go to Katy’s review on Goodreads.

Go to Mitch’s review on Goodreads.

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