The Rules by Tracy Darnton
Published By: Stripes
Released: 9th July 2020
I received this book free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
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Amber’s an expert when it comes to staying hidden – she’s been trained her whole life for it. But what happens when the person you’re hiding from taught you everything you know?
When a letter from her dad arrives, Amber knows she’s got to move – and fast. He’s managed to find her and she knows he’ll stop at nothing to draw her back into the extreme survivalist way of life he believes in.
All of a sudden the Rules she’s spent so long trying to escape are the ones keeping her safe. But for how long?
Trigger Warnings: Domestic abuse, violence, mental health, murder.
Tracy Darnton is an author who I have heard of but never read before, but after hearing about her latest book The Rules, I was instantly intrigued by its premise and was delighted to receive an early copy. I went into it not knowing what to expect, and sometimes that is the best way to start a book.
Amber has finally settled down somewhere, after moving from foster home to foster home and is ready for some normality. However, when a letter from her Dad arrives, she knows she has to run. Her dad will stop at nothing to find her and draw her back into his extreme way of living, and although Amber knows how to survive, she learnt everything from her Dad and his rules. The rules are the only thing keeping her safe, but for how long? She doesn’t know.
This was, for the most part, an intense, thrilling read that had me hooked, and wanting to know more about Amber and her past life. However, I did find the pacing of the book towards the start to be a little bit slow for me? I think I wanted to be thrust straight into the action, as that what I thought the book was going to be. Despite this, once the pace of the story picked up – I’d say just before the halfway point, I was in it for the long run and overall thoroughly enjoyed the ride.
I found the plot to be very intriguing and I feel like I learnt a lot from reading The Rules, especially in regards to preppers. If I’m being honest, I’d never even heard of the term before, but after reading The Rules I have a better understanding of the movement. Throughout the story, you get to learn about how preppers prepare for emergencies, including stockpiling and learning survival skills. The story itself takes us through December and we follow Amber as she tries her hardest to hide from her dad. The way the story is told does open your eyes to the lives of homeless teens and how they are treated and also how foster children can be perceived. We get deep in Amber’s thoughts and it feels so poignant and realistic. Come to the end of the book my heart was both racing and feeling heavy as, despite it ending the way that suits the overall arc of the story, I did want more.
Amber was a snarky character, but I found that unique and feel that it suited her well. She’s a fighter and the way she acts is only due to what she’s been through during various points in her life. I feel that she’s made out to be this loner who isn’t going anywhere when in reality she does want a normal life with a normal routine with normal friends. Her relationship with Josh, I think helped warm her up and become more trusting of someone. I also like the fact their relationship didn’t turn in a romance, I feel that if it had it would have ruined the feeling of the book, and it’s refreshing to read a YA novel that doesn’t feature teen love.
The Rules was, altogether, a hard-hitting, adrenaline-inducing, intense read that both intrigued me and opened my eyes to a part of society that I knew nothing about. I would love to read more about Amber and Josh, too, as after that ending I do need more.