Ariane is designated GTX-F-107, a human alien hybrid who lived like a lab rat until her "father" rescued her one night after the lab was bombed. For the past ten years she has tried to blend in, hiding the physical difference with coloured contacts and hair dye, and she almost passes for human - almost but not quite. Her one friend is Jenna, and together they are riding through the social hell known as high school, staying under the radar and mostly unnoticed - until Jenna finds herself in the cross hairs of queen bee and school bully Rachel Jacobs.
Suddenly things are not quiet and simple, and once Ariane breaks one of the rules - the others quickly tumble too. Things go from complicated to completely messed up when Zane Bradshaw steps outside of the rules as well, going against the will of the mighty Rachel Jacobs. With Rachel pushing all her buttons, and Ariane struggling to control the abilities she has kept clamped down for so long, the battle lines are drawn for an epic battle that may mean life or death - for Ariane, and the people she cares about.
The Rules is the first book in the Project Paper Doll series and it is an explosive beginning to the series - complete with a conspiracy of secrets, a heroine who is more fragile than she seems and not what she appears to be, a tortured soul looking to fit in and be accepted, and a spoiled prima donna who wants what she wants and doesn't care who gets hurt in the process. Some (minor) cliches not withstanding, The Rules is an absorbing read with a carefully thought out back story that is both convincing and a little too close to some of the conspiracy theories out there (how many of the stories about secret government facilities are there anyway?).
Ariane rings true with her teenage voice and concerns, but she also has a true voice as someone who is trying to keep the ultimate secret - she is not wholly human and some of the things she could do as a child were both awe inspiring and scary. Trying to navigate high school is tricky enough for a normal teenager, never mind being a teenager who lives by a series of rules that are designed to keep her hidden and safe. The characters built around Ariane are realistic and have their charms and flaws - something you pick up more readily because the chapters alternate between Ariane's voice and Zane's.
This is a very promising start to a new series, and while it is not a short read (410 pages) once I was absorbed in the story the chapters flew by until I reached the stunning conclusion. This is one of the better books I have read this year, and I hope that Kade doesn't keep us waiting too long for the next book in the series.
If you like this book then try:
- The originals by Cat Patrick
- Origin by Jessica Khoury
- Altered by Jennifer Rush
- Mila 2.0 by Debra Driza
- Sister assassin by Kiersten White
- Variant by Robison Wells
- Adaptation by Melinda Lo
Reviewed by Brilla