Sunday, November 18, 2012

On Tarot: A Review of Poison Princess by Kresley Cole

Poison Princess (The Arcana Chronicles, #1)I might as well warn you right out of the gate that I didn't like this book, even though I intended to. I was so sure I'd like it that I bought my own copy without reading an excerpt or any reviews. I'm like a cautionary tale for impulse buying.

Tough to detail the plot, since all of the legitimately interesting portions are spoilers, but...Basically, an apocalypse happens, in which the sun flares and kills all plant life and vaporizes all water on the Earth's surface, and Evie is one of few survivors. She's unfortunately terrible at surviving, but is lucky to have first her mother and then Jackson to take care of her. Jackson is a Cajun juvenile delinquent, and it's an opposites attract situation with Evie having been a peppy cheerleader in her pre-dystopian life. The plot gets (comparatively) interesting when we start to learn that Evie has magic(ish) powers to do with plants--and that there are other teens out in the world with other powers.

Positive Comments

The prologue is gripping, and the final chapter is rather triumphant. I can't deny that there are a lot of great ideas in this book. I really wanted to know about the Arcana and what their purpose in the world is. I can't deny that I'm still intrigued, and that even though I really, really did not like this book, I will probably read the next one in the series. That's how interesting the fantasy elements are.

Critical Comments

Let's start with Evie. I found it very, very hard to like, relate to, or sympathize with Evie on any level. Now, it's not like I really expect to connect directly with every heroine I read about, especially in YA. But dear God, Evie is unlikeable, and more importantly she is useless. It's fine for a character to start out useless, or weak, or cowardly, as long as they show some sort of steady development over the course of the story. But Evie does not. With the exception of her breakthrough at the very, very end, she is content to rely on Jackson for survival, even when he puts her down for being dead weight. Where is her sense of pride or self respect? Where are her survival instincts? Why should I care about this girl?

The romance did not work for me, and the main reason for that is Jackson. Jackson comes from a dirt poor background where he's had to learn to fight for basic survival--and by fight, I mean beat men's faces into their skulls. He's a bad boy...okay, fine, I like bad boys. The problem is he just doesn't come across as redeemable in any capacity. He drinks heavily, puts Evie down all the time, and hits on another girl to make her jealous. If all that isn't bad enough, I'm left with the impression that his only motivation for helping Evie is to get into her pants. At one point, when she puts a stop to their physical activities, he blows up at her, basically saying "I saved your life, the least you could do is put out!" Our hero, ladies and gentlemen! So this book fails entirely as a romance, and whether the relationship stands a remote chance of being salvaged for me in future books is doubtful.

So, there isn't a single truly likeable character...maybe the plot is still good? Yes, to a point, but the pacing is way off. The first third is spent on Evie's high school drama--maintaining popularity, having a surprise birthday party, maybe losing her virginity to her perfect boy friend...none of which shows any signs of being even slightly relevant to the actual plot. A lot of this could have and should have been slashed in favor or interesting things.


Unfortunately, I can't in good conscience recommend this book. It annoyed and infuriated me on so many levels. Will I read the next book? Probably. But there's no reason that you should suffer as well. 2 stars.

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