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The Rules (Project Paper Doll)

The Rules - Stacey Kade This review and others are posted at Read, Rinse, Repeat.

The Rules has pretty much everything this sci-fi fan could want. A human/extra-terrestrial hybrid? Check. The hybrid, named Ariane, was locked in a top-secret government laboratory and subjected to inhumane experiments? Check. Ariane breaks out and now must attempt to blend into society to avoid detection and capture? Check.

Ariane's attempt at a normal life begins at home with the laboratory's security guard who helped her escape. He poses as her father (his own daughter died of an illness, a fact he has kept hidden) and instructs her in The Rules that Ariane must follow to protect both of their lives. She must blend in, especially at school; never over-achieve, never under -achieve; don't be early, but don't be late. In short, she can never draw attention to herself. This becomes increasingly difficult when Rachel, the malicious bully at school sets her sights on Ariane and Ariane's only friend, Jenna. Ariane has supernatural abilities, courtesy of her alien DNA, and she struggles, not always successfully, to not use them to retaliate against Rachel's tormenting.

Ariane's origin is touched on very briefly. Too briefly for me. I'm hoping that this will be explored in much greater detail in the sequel, in part because I'm a total geek for this stuff, but also because I'm imagining how the still-mysterious parts of her origin may come into play. So many possibilities!

As a narrator, Ariane is sharp and funny, pointing out oddities of humans, like how frequently we discuss the weather. While locked up in the lab, Ariane's knowledge of the outside world came from the movies and television shows she was permitted to watch. She doesn't wish to be human, but she has a certain level of resentment for the relative ease with which most of us live our lives. She knows her "father" cares for her, but she also knows she can never truly replace his real daughter in his heart. While he tends to her needs, he maintains a safe emotional distance.

So far, I've only discussed Ariane, but the book actually splits POV's with Ariane and Zane, one of the popular guys at school and a part of Rachel's crowd. He knows how detestable Rachel can be, and he attempts to stand up to her, but I wondered why such a nice guy is a part of this crowd. He's intrigued by Ariane, and Rachel is less than thrilled by this. Zane, as likable as he is, was just not as exciting as a narrator. Then again, how can anyone compete with an alien hybrid? Stacey Kade writes very well from the male POV, but when his chapters started, I found myself looking forward to getting back to Ariane. Near the end of the book, however, Zane's narration became much more exciting as we headed towards the conclusion that completely took me by surprise. That twist...I did NOT see it coming. I'm hoping to hear from other readers on this point in the comments, but just be careful to prominently note if your comment contains a spoiler!

The Rules ends on a perfect cliff-hanger. It successfully wrapped up the previous events and conflicts, and it sets the stage for a complete change of pace in the sequel. I was a bit distressed that Goodreads did not list the sequel, but Kade wrote on Twitter that she is revising it now.

Note - I received an ARC of this book from the publisher for review.