Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Poison Study was one of those rare books that perfectly combined fantasy, adventure, mystery, action and romance. Not once did I groan at how predictable the plot was, or at how unbelievable the relationships were - two things I am finding far too common in YA these days. I'm still in (an elated) shock!
Synopsis: Yelena has been imprisoned for over a year, and on the day of her execution she is offered an opportunity - become the Commander's food taster, or accept her death. She chooses to become the food taster, of course, and thus begins her new life studying poisons. But Yelena has enemies, and in her new environment, she must always be on her guard...
Poison Study drew me into a well-written, well-imagined world. Snyder included just the right amount of information on Ixia and Sitia - I did not once question the reality of this world. This is hard to find in fantasy novels, which sometimes expect us to suspend a little too much disbelief. The characters were all well-rounded and purposeful; none of them felt like obvious plot devices.
The central story line of Poison Study was complex enough to be creative and unique, without becoming bogged down in unnecessary detail. The Commander's story was especially intriguing and unexpected - though the ending to his aspect of the story enraged me, to say the least. Snyder also perfectly set up the important characters for the next novel. Even though each character has a different and divergent path, I am excited to learn what will happen to them next (am I the only one shipping Janco and Ari?!)
The level of romance in this novel was perfect. YA novels these days seem to force romantic relationships where they are not necessarily warranted. Even worse is when two characters are introduced to each other in one chapter, and are declaring their undying love for one another in the next chapter! Yelena and Valek began their relationship with a mutual respect, followed by begrudging friendship, and finally, after pages and pages of beautiful character development, things turn romantic. Yes! Finally, a romance that does not feel forced, or unrealistic!
Overall, this book was a well-written and imaginative story, with compelling characters and a believable world. I especially recommend this book to people who are looking for a YA fantasy novel with a believable romance subplot!
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