Actual rating: 4.5 starsOnce upon a time, an author decided to combine the two most overused aspects of current YA literature––vampires and dystopia. And .... she actually wrote a book that was REALLY FREAKING AWESOME. The end.I know, Patrick. I know. I wasn't expecting it either. So, I admit that I know next to nothing about Julie Kagawa, except for that she wrote the Iron Fey series, which I have not read. I heard mixed things about them, and I'm not really into faerie books, so I'd decided against reading them. But after seeing what she did with vampires, I'm much more intrigued. There was a lot to love about this book.The world Kagawa creates is dark and terrifying. And I think the scariest thing was how realistic it felt, compared to most other vampire books. A lot of the vampire books I've read involve vampires trying to hide from everyone, pretending to be normal, so on and so forth. And Julie Kagawa is like, "FUCK THAT SHIT. If vampires really existed, THEY'D TAKE OVER THE WHOLE FREAKING WORLD." I mean, that makes much more sense to me. Why mope around pretending to be normal, when you could just take over the world and start eating people left and right without anyone stopping you? Sounds good to me. So, you get the idea. Kagawa created a more original and intriguing vampire world, full of violence and paranoia and gore and all that other stuff I love so much.Secondly, I loved our protagonist, Allie––a girl who has recently become a vampire, and is living with a group of human rebels and trying to keep her true identity a secret. She's very tough and super cool, doesn't need anyone to save her, chops people up with swords ... What's not to like? Also, she was Asian, which was cool because a vast majority of YA protagonists are Caucasian and it's good to see some diversity.((On a related side note: The cover really pisses me off. When the book mentioned briefly that Allie was Asian, I had to read the sentence a few times because I was like, "What? Really?" I look at the cover of the book again, and I'm fairly sure I'm not imagining things. That girl is clearly white. ... Either that, or the model really is Asian but they tried to cover it up with an awful lot of eye make-up. I thought maybe it was just me, but as I've been looking through reviews, I see I'm not the only person who was angered by this. WTH. This is not cool. Hopefully they'll make more of an effort when the paperback cover comes out. And when the other books in the series come out. Because come on ... really? This is just offensive. Update: So yeah, the paperback cover is just basically the title against a blank, paint-splattered background. Well then. I'm still offended.Update on the update: I just read this blog post in which Julie Kagawa talks about the cover change. She claims that the new cover was made to give the book a more "dystopian" appearance. Well okay, I can see that. But still. She does talk about the white-washing controversy, and says that an Asian model was hired and she will appear on the back of the book or on the inside cover. ... Are you kidding me?! "Oh yeah, we did get an Asian model but lol we're definitely not going to put her on the cover of the book." Man, I am really angry about this. But I'll just leave that there, and shut up about it now.))Anyway, I digress ...There are only a couple of reasons why I knocked off half a star.First of all, I wasn't a huge fan of Zeke. I didn't dislike him, but I just found him a little bland. I mean, he's a nice guy, but I would have liked to have seen him become a more flawed and fleshed-out character. Minor spoiler: Not to mention, he chose to kiss her at a REALLY STUPID TIME, and that's one of my pet peeves. I just wasn't really rooting for him and Allie to be a couple. I did, on the other hand, really like Kanin––Allie's vampire-mentor at the beginning of the book. He reminded me a lot of Lestat from [b:Interview With the Vampire|43763|Interview with the Vampire (The Vampire Chronicles, #1)|Anne Rice|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1218672404s/43763.jpg|873132] (which is another vampire book I like ... although to be honest, I like the movie better; it's more ... concise. BUT ANYWAY...). I'm not sure if Kagawa was ever hinting at a romance between Allie and Kanin ... but if there is one––or heck, even if there isn't one––I SHIP IT. I DON'T CARE WHAT EVERYONE ELSE THINKS. I MEAN, LOOK HOW BEAUTIFUL THIS SHIP IS:Ah-hem. Anyway. What I mean is, I hope there is more Kanin in the next book(s), because I was super intrigued by him. My other minor problem was that I found the plot itself a little clichéd and predictable. I mean, we've all seen it before: a) future-dystopian society in which two "species" (can't really think of a better word for it) are set against each other, b) person from one side decides to wander over to the opposite side and pretend to be one of them and/or at least pretend to be friendly with them, c) this person's secret enemy identity is revealed and everyone feels so betrayed and it's one big horrible misunderstanding! Oh no! And ... yeah. I've seen it in [b:Uglies|24770|Uglies (Uglies, #1)|Scott Westerfeld|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1358962036s/24770.jpg|2895388], in [b:The Host|1656001|The Host (The Host, #1)|Stephenie Meyer|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1318009171s/1656001.jpg|3328799], in James Cameron's "Avatar" ... Heck, I've written that story before. I mean, it's a cliché that I like, but ... well, it's rather predictable since it seems to always turn out the same way. But over all, I loved this book. It was exciting, it was fast-paced, it had a mostly-good cast of characters, it was well-written and properly developed ... It was great. If any book can restore your faith in YA vampire books, then this may be it.