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Fantasy Review: Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder

Monday, November 30, 2009


Yelena is awaiting execution for the murder of an important official's son when she is dragged out of the dungeon in chains one day. Expecting to be hanged, she is surprised when she is taken to her country's spymaster and offered the choice between instant death or becoming the Commander's new food taster. As Yelena replies, she is not a fool.

I just loved Yelena. She is so smart, sarcastic, ever-hopeful, and talented in ways that even she doesn't realize. She's the biggest reason I rated this book five stars. So my question is, with all the kick-ass female characters out there for teen girls to read, why is whiny Bella the one that most seem to have latched onto? There's Yelena in this book, Katsa in Graceling, and Katniss in The Hunger Games. I'm sure there are more that I haven't found yet. I want to start hearing about a strong female with a life of her own for a change!

Anyway, I did have two minor complaints. The first was the font in my copy. It was alright, but the f's were too wide, so that when they were next to another tall letter, my eye tripped over the word and read a space where there wasn't supposed to be one. I wish I could show you what I actually mean. But this is how it sort of looked:

"Your drink was laced with a poison called Butterf ly's Dust. Mine wasn't. The only way to detect Butterf ly's Dust in a liquid is to gargle it."

The other thing I disliked was Valek's name. Oh, believe me when I say I liked Valek himself and hope that I get to read more about him in the sequel, but that name kills me. I know I'm probably at least a decade older than most readers of this book, but for that decade, my 401(k) stuff has been administered by a group called VALIC. You see my problem? VALIC is boring. I'm struggling a little with the name Valek.

Other than those two things, I loved the rest of the book. I already mentioned Yelena, but the other characters were great, the pacing was just right for me, and the twists the story took were believable and fun to read about.

This book wrapped up pretty nicely on it's own, but there is some set-up for the sequel. I can't wait to get my hands on it! I want to see what happens, of course, but there's just one little hint in this book about some characters we might get to meet in Magic Study, and they sound intriguing, to say the least.

I highly recommend this for a good fast-paced read with a great female character. I will add that I know this is marketed a lot toward young adults, and that's fine, but I personally would hesitate before handing it to a younger teen. There were just a few scenes that I probably wouldn't have minded at that age (let's be honest--I would probably have searched them out!), but, having read the book, I can't picture giving it to my younger cousin until she's about fifteen or so. But I will try to remember to hand it to her when she's that age. It was just so great!

If you're interested in this, check out Maria V. Snyder's website. She has a list of author appearances, trivia contests, and you can even read the first chapter.

I looked for a book trailer, and I did find one that looked pretty cool, but they all made Valek sound like a pompous ass. I'm skipping that part today. I like Valek too much to do that to him.

6 comments:

  1. I totally agree! There are a lot of good, strong female characters out there for girls to read about. Why most choose Bella is beyond me. It'd be interesting to do some research on that. Maybe there's some weird phycological reason behind it all... (Oh Gah. I'm turning into my mother. Always trying to place some phycological meaning behind everything...) LOL!

    I totally get what you mean about certain letters for different fonts being all weird. I can't stand seeing that little space in the middle of a word. xD

    Great review! Think I might add it to my reading list. :)

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  2. I've read the first three Twilight books and just haven't gotten around to the last one yet. I have to admit that I really liked Twilight and Eclipse. But I really wish a stronger female character had become the center of this craze.

    Have you read Graceling or The Hunger Games? Those are really great YA books with strong female characters too.

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  3. Absolutely love this series along with Graceling and The Hunger Games. Always falling for those strong female characters. You need to read the Bloody Jack series - it's historical fiction, but amazing! Author is L.A. Meyer.

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  4. Thanks for the rec, Kristen! I've heard of the series, but I haven't heard anything about it. I'll have to check it out.

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  5. Glad you liked this book as it is a favourite of mine. But Yikes! about the font. I have a UK copy, so I had no such issue. But sometimes that kind of this can just throw you out of the story.... how annoying.

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  6. I really need to get my hands on Magic Study. That is the next one, right? I can't wait to read it! Hopefully it won't have the same font issue.

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Thanks for taking the time to comment! Have a great day!

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