Thursday, June 27, 2013

The Rules by Stacey Kade

Sixteen year old Ariane Tucker knows The Rules.

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.

Cover of the novel I read.
Ariane has followed these rules faithfully for ten years. Until she meets Zane Bradshaw.

Ariane is the creation of GenTex Labs (GTX), home to Project Paper Doll. She is an alien/human hybrid, created from a human mother using DNA taken from the Rozwell aliens. Ariane lived in an observation room for the first six years of her life at GTX until a bomb exploded and she was helped to escape by her "father", Mark Tucker, a security guard at the Labs. Instead of fleeing, the two of them live in Wingate, right under the shadow of GTX Labs which is located only ten miles away. Their strategy has been for Ariane to blend in and take the name of Mark's fully human daughter, Ariane, who died after a serious illness. Ariane enrolls in school and now attends high school where she is a junior.

Ariane has followed The Rules faithfully for ten years. But when her best and only friend, Jenna is bullied by Rachel Jacobs, Ariane knows she cannot stand by and watch her humiliation. Ariane confronts Rachel, thereby earning her wrath and placing her squarely in Rachel's sights for revenge. That revenge involves using tall, handsome Zane Bradshaw, whom, it turns out, Rachel has definitely underestimated.

Another cover.
Zane has his own issues to deal with, specifically his father, Jay Bradshaw, who is Wingate's police chief. Zane has grown up in the shadow of his older brother, Quinn, an all star athlete. Nothing Zane does is comparable to Quinn's accomplishments in his father's eyes and he must cope with his father's bullying. Zane's mother left his dad over a year ago, no longer being able to cope with the abusive home life.

Zane's life at school isn't much better, where he is part of Rachel Jacob's bullying posse. When Rachel devises a plan that involves using Zane to exact revenge on the quiet, unassuming Ariane Tucker, Zane knows he has to accept her request. Zane does so in the hopes of giving Rachel a taste of her own medicine.

But getting Ariane to agree, at first is difficult. When a second, even worse bullying of Jenna occurs, Ariane decides to agree to Zane's request, despite her fear that by breaking one of her adoptive father's cardinal rules, GTX will discover her whereabouts.

Zane has already noticed some things about Ariane that he considers strange. She always does her math in ink and she always gets two or three wrong on tests. Never more nor less. He also notices that there is always a bandage on the back of her neck and that she wears contacts to cover up the real cover of her eyes. For Zane, getting Ariane involved  not only means getting back at Rachel, but also solving the mystery of Ariane.

Of course what Zane doesn't know is that Ariane has more abilities than he is aware of. Ariane can hear people's thoughts and sense their emotions and she has telekinesis - the ability to manipulate objects. Before she was freed from GTX, Ariane was being trained to kill, something she refused to co-operate with, resulting in emotional trauma and the paralyzing of her abilities.

The two of them decide they will pretend to date and instead of Zane dumping Ariane as Rachel planned they will reveal that they are friends thus thwarting her revenge on Ariane. However, things get complicated with both Zane and Ariane developing a genuine love for one another. As the conflict between Jenna, Rachel and Ariane spirals out of control, it becomes increasingly evident that GTX also might be hot on Ariane's trail.

When Ariane's father warns her to drop Zane Bradshaw, telling her that she will place him in the crosshairs of GTX, Ariane does what she things is best. But is she too late to save herself and Zane?

The Rules just might be one of the best young adult novels this year! It's unusual storyline which combines the concepts of Mean Girls with an "alien" Carrie, captures the reader's interest from the very beginning. Thrown in with this mix is a blossoming romance between the two main characters.

Told in the alternating narratives of Ariane and Zane we learn through flashbacks the past of both characters; Zane's abusive homelife and Ariane's lonely terror as an experimental child-subject in the lab at GTX. Both therefore, keenly feel the injustice of Rachel's bullying of Jenna and try to protect her.Both desperately are seeking love and affirmation.

Both Zane and Ariane suffer from a deep loneliness that comes from being misunderstood and not accepted for who they are. Zane is struggling to create his own identity separate from that of his older brother Quinn. Zane wants to be different from both his brother and his father, whom he sees as manipulative people. He's just biding his time until graduation in two years.

Meanwhile, Ariane's struggle is reminiscent of that of the human-Vulcan character,  Mr. Spock from Star Trek. Ariane struggles between her logical alien nature and her emotional human one.
"I gritted my teeth. This was the balancing act I struggled with daily, sometimes hourly. I felt like I was nothing but a bunch of extremes all bound up together. The logical voice in my head pointing out facts and likely scenarios, and the roar of emotions, the rush of want and need, that would drown everything out if I let it."
"But it was important for me to remember that in this particular situation, as with most, giving in to my human side would be dangerous. Satisfying maybe, but dangerous. I wanted, raged, and needed, just like everybody else. But my analytical nonhuman side knew that giving in was risking...."
Zane and Ariane's blossoming romance is delightful, as they discover the unexpected in each other. Zane is impressed by Ariane's courage and self control, while Ariane is touched by Zane's tenderness and concern for her well-being.

My favourite cover because Ariane looks 16!
Readers might pick up on some of the twists in the novel, but generally they will be a surprise, while the climax will likely be somewhat predictable. Nevertheless, this doesn't make The Rules any less of an enjoyable read. I can't wait to read the next installment of this series. And to think that I almost didn't read this novel!!

Here is Stacey Kade's post about how the cover was designed for this novel. Personally I like the cover shown below because the model at least looks sixteen. Although the final cover is well done, the model is too old to represent Ariane Tucker.

Book Details:
The Rules by Stacey Kade
New York: Hyperion      2013
410 pp.

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