Saturday, October 27, 2012

Review: Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder

Poison Study (Study, #1)Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder

Reviewed by Steph with Dani’s commentary BEFORE reading Poison Study in blue and AFTER reading Poison study in purple.

Steph’s rating: 4.5 stars 
Dani’s rating: 4 stars 
Overall rating: 4.25 stars

Goodreads Synopsis:
Choose: A quick death…Or slow poison…
     About to be executed for murder, Yelena is offered an extraordinary reprieve. She'll eat the best meals, have rooms in the palace—and risk assassination by anyone trying to kill the Commander of Ixia.
     And so Yelena chooses to become a food taster. But the chief of security, leaving nothing to chance, deliberately feeds her Butterfly's Dust—and only by appearing for her daily antidote will she delay an agonizing death from the poison.
     As Yelena tries to escape her new dilemma, disasters keep mounting. Rebels plot to seize Ixia and Yelena develops magical powers she can't control. Her life is threatened again and choices must be made. But this time the outcomes aren't so clear…

Review: small spoilers ahead if you haven’t read the book
    This is one of those books that is standard, but good nonetheless. You’ve got the slow-building romance, the unlikely heroine who had a bad past, and the twinge of mystery and suspense. The setting is historical, but there is a magical twist to it. 

    Poison Study centers around a girl named Yelena, who has killed the son of Ixian General Brazell. Yelena does have a good reason to kill Reyad (that sick bastard, Brazell’s son), but in Ixia, it is highly illegal to kill anyone even if it was an accident or if you did it out of self defense. The law says that anyone who murders is given the death sentence, and of course Yelena is not spared.

    Just when she is about to be hanged for treason, she is offered a job as the Ixian Commander’s food taster per the law. At first, she thinks it’s a joke, and that the Ixian official, Valek, just want to see her cling to life in her last moments. But she realizes he was actually serious, and Yelena accepts the position. 

    Now you might be thinking, why would criminal be allowed to get close to the leader of a nation? That problem is taken care of by Valek. He purposely gives her a poison that will kill her, if she does not drink the antidote daily. The only way to get the antidote, which is made by Valek, is to be at “work” every morning. 

    Being poisoned becomes the least of her worries when General Brazell, Reyad’s father and her pre-murder surrogate father, arrives at the Commander’s castle for a military meeting. Yelena never liked Reyad from the start, and she could never understand why Brazell doted on him like he did. Any father would be angry with his son’s killer though, and Brazell sends several of his minions to capture Yelena. 

    I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Yelena actually did have a dark past that really makes you feel sorry for her. She’s not like those characters who thinks they have the worst past out of everyone in the world, and induces herself in self-pity. I especially liked her because she never played the damsel-in-distress card. She tries to deal with her own problems and be an independent girl. She got in trouble a lot at the castle, but she managed to worm her way out of every situation. Unfortunately, Yelena has a secret that would get her killed immediately if any word of it got out. This secret has to do with the “magic” that I mentioned earlier. The Commander of Ixia is unforgiving of any kind of magic, and one problem she faces is Brazell knowing about her powers. 

    Oh! and Valek!? He’s Yelena’s mentor in food tasting/poison lessons. By her descriptions, he’s supposed to be really handsome...:D. I thought Valek’s character really added to this story. His relationship with Yelena is not one of those ridiculous love-at-first-sight or we-were-meant-to-be-together kind of relationships. It builds up slowly and then simmers near the end. It’s a very sweet relationship and brings out a side of Valek that only you yourself as the reader, and Yelena, knows. I also like Valek’s outside superior demeanor. He is the Chief of Security, and a skilled assassin >:). 

    Besides the lovable characters, the plot was actually interesting. There is a sub-plot, but Snyder tells it in contrast to the main plot so that neither of them suffer. I really liked the mystery surrounding Yelena’s past and Brazell’s role in it. I’m not going to say anything else about the plot, because any phrase I utter from this point on would give something major away. Lots of things happen at a fast pace in this book, and I honestly had a take a few breaks to gather my thoughts on what just happened in the last few chapters. 

    I would recommend this book to anyone who just needs a good, interesting read. It may keep you up reading during the night, just a warning. There is no specific gender this book is aimed towards (or so I feel), and I think the characters and events in this book will make you love it like I did.

This is one of the few books that Steph has read and I haven’t. Usually we’re like “YOU HAVE TO READ THIS BOOK!” *shoves book in face* The first thing that popped into my mind when I read the sentence  “it is highly illegal to kill people by accident” was CHICAGO! If you don’t know the storyline of Chicago, it’s about women who murder their lover and get imprisoned for it. Some of them had good reasons to murder them, some of them didn’t. Just like this book! Totally random, but you don’t really get to see my perky and crazy side often, so...
Also my reaction was to the sentence “not a damsel in distress” was YAY! YOU GO GIRL! These days so many YA books have a pretty much useless girl who relies on an extremely hot, capable, and badass guy. (Excepting Meghan from Iron Fey, Rose from Vampire Academy, and Alex from Covenant.)

Another teacher-student relationship! How very vampire academy like! Are these teachers pedos? O.O JK! I definitely want to read this book. So much fantasy suspense, semi-strong heroine...Although I’m not loving the huge age difference between Valek and Yelena. Also, what’s up with Valek feeding Yelena poison? Definitely not what comes to mind when you think of a relationship; the guy poisoning the girl and then giving her the antidote....

So based on this review, I give this book a 4.5! I know that I will love it. Well, I HOPE that I will love it. I took off a 0.5 because of the weird age difference. Let’s just say that the age difference
MIGHT be more or less than 10 years...I must read it to find out!

After Dani has read this book: I wholeheartedly agree with everything Steph said. This book was amazing. Not really a romance, more like a fantasy novel with some romance sprinkled and then mixed in. Valek is one badass spy.

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