Sixteen-year-old Kyra, a highly-skilled potions master, is the only one who knows her kingdom is on the verge of destruction—which means she’s the only one who can save it. Faced with no other choice, Kyra decides to do what she does best: poison the kingdom’s future ruler, who also happens to be her former best friend.
But, for the first time ever, her poisoned dart...misses.
Now a fugitive instead of a hero, Kyra is caught in a game of hide-and-seek with the king’s army and her potioner ex-boyfriend, Hal. At least she’s not alone. She’s armed with her vital potions, a too-cute pig, and Fred, the charming adventurer she can’t stop thinking about. Kyra is determined to get herself a second chance (at murder), but will she be able to find and defeat the princess before Hal and the army find her? (from Amazon)
I’ve had this book since last summer (ALA Annual, holla) but I wasn’t planning on reading it until I saw this Kirkus review:
Don’t let the title or cover fool you! No grimdark teen fantasy or angst-y heroines here; just a frothy confection of a fairy tale featuring poisoners, princesses, perfumers and pigs, none of whom are exactly what they appear (except maybe the pigs).
I TOTALLY judge books by their cover, and so does everyone else. Poison, going by its cover, looks like it’s a jungle-y version of Throne of Glass.1 Until you notice the pig. It is pink and adorable and looks like it’d be nice to snuggle with, and it’s totally representative of what Poison ACTUALLY is: a cute and fluffy YA fantasy book (with romance).
Despite its cute and fluffy nature, Poison does some really clever things in the course of its story. For example, the romance is not a) instalove, b) creepy alpha!boyfriend love, or c) completely ridiculous. (More about the romance later.) Kyra IS a bit of a teenage wonder, but it fits within the world of the story so that didn’t bug me. The friendship between Kyra and Ariana was ALSO pretty awesome– they were loving and sweet and neither of them tried to stab each other in the back (except for the assassination attempt, anyway), and YAY, friends!
Ariana is the princess and she is an UBER princess. Spoiled, but kind. Tomboyish, but not necessarily in an excepto-girl way. And she’s got lots of sass! In my reading notes I mentioned that she reminds me of Charlotte La Bouff from The Princess and the Frog: loud, vivacious, and totally the center of attention whenever she shows up in a scene.2
The love interest, Fred, skeeved me out at first. He’s not an alpha!male, but he DID do that thing where he messes with the heroine by ignoring her requests to stop bugging her. It’s supposed to be charming, but for me it’s one step away from going into “no means yes” territory and that’s BAD. For example, Kyra is crossing a river wearing only her underwear (it makes sense in context). Fred shows up and leers. Kyra tells him not to leer– he keeps leering. Skeevy!
He does things like that several times throughout the book, though not so much in the last third. He gets better, though, and the more time Kyra spends with him, the more I ended up liking him. Plus, in the context of the book, he’s actually the perfect sort of romantic hero. Kyra needed to be shaken up, to argue with someone and get her emotions going. By the time Fred showed up she really DID need help, so having him tag along did her a lot of good.
Now, the actual STORY was kind of…hm. Light and fluffy? But with a good dose of thrills/excitement, too. I LOVE conspiracies re:royal families, so I was good to go from basically the first chapter. The ending, however, kinda fell apart.
I think my problem with the ending was because of Kyra’s mother, who is a beast. She shows up three seconds from the end, fixes (nearly) everything, and then punishes Kyra for doing what she did.
She grounds her.
At the beginning of the book it was established that Kyra was independant and a businesswoman and also a potions master, which led me to assume she was an adult. An adult…COULD be grounded by her mother, I guess, but having it happen in this story infantilizes Kyra. It’s also a total crock, because if Kyra were actually, legally an adult she wouldn’t be grounded as a punishment, she’d be under house arrest or something. Same thing, technically, but the former is what your mother does and the latter is what your GOVERNMENT does when it’s treating you like a proper citizen.
So the ending is a bit of an annoyance. The rest of the book, though, is a fun read. If you like YA fantasy that isn’t dark or scary, with some amusing characters (including a pig!) and an interesting storyline, you’d no doubt like Poison.
Read: March 2, 2013