Published 2012 369 pages
Summary (from the book jacket)
She could save the world—or destroy it.
Sixteen year old Evangeline “Evie” Greene leads a charmed life, until she begins experiencing horrifying hallucinations. When an apocalyptic event decimates her Louisiana hometown, Evie realizes her hallucinations were actually visions of the future—and they’re still happening. Fighting for her life and desperate for answers, she must turn to her wrong-side-of-the-bayou classmate: Jack Deveaux.
But she can’t do either alone.
With his mile-long rap sheet, wicked grin, and bad attitude, Jack is like no boy Evie has ever known. Even though he once scorned her and everything she represented, he agrees to protect Evie on her quest. She knows she can’t totally depend on Jack. If he ever cast that wicked grin her way, could she possibly resist him?
Who can Evie trust?
As Jack and Evie race to find the source of her visions, they meet others who have gotten the same call. An ancient prophesy is being played out, and Evie is not the only one with special powers. A group of twenty-two teens has been chosen to reenact the ultimate battle between good and evil. But it’s not always clear who is on which side…
Poison Princess is the first book in The Arcana Chronicles, a new dystopian fantasy series written for Young Adults, from bestselling paranormal romance author Kresley Cole. Kresley Cole is well known for her adult romances, the hugely popular Immortals After Dark series. Poison Princess is her first foray into YA fiction, the dystopian setting is completely different to the IAD world but at heart the story is essentially still a romance.
As a book reviewer of many years I’m rarely at a loss when it comes to saying what I think about a book. I always have an opinion and I’m always able to articulate it. However Poison Princess has me completely stumped. I’m finding it hard to pin point exactly what isn’t working for me with this story and equally difficult to say what did. My overall impression of Poison Princess is favourable; I liked the characters enough to care about their fates, which kept me suitably engrossed in the story. But this is almost despite the story itself.
Poison Princess is a strange story. The dystopian setting of the story is probably the part that works least for me. It has all the elements that such a story should have – a ruined world, a deadly plague, bagmen (a.k.a zombies), cannibals, a broken society – plus additional mystical ones: a girl with visions and special powers all mysteriously tied into the Major Arcana of Tarot cards. Weren’t the zombies, environmental disaster and cannibals enough? The tarot card fantasy elements feel bolted-on to the dystopian world and vice-versa. It’s just too much disjointed stuff thrown together, with the effect that the setting never becomes more than the sum of its parts.
The first 100 pages of the story are a flashback to Evie’s life at the time just before the world was broken. This is an odd mixture of the highly mundane (read boring) life of a privileged teen interspaced with incomprehensible visions and dream sequences. This part of the story introduces rich kid Evie and poor boy Jack to the reader, we can see that in the normal course of events they would never be friends because their lives are too different. After the apocalypse they are forced to work together for survival, although to be honest Jack is forced to protect Evie because she’s sheltered and naïve, while he’s a street-wise delinquent. What Jack gets out of the arrangement apart from a pretty but fairly useless travelling companion is only known to Jack. I’m guessing that since Evie is pretty much one of the last women left on Earth, it’s isn’t too much of a stretch to imagine what a healthy eighteen year-old boy would want from her…
Jack and Evie’s relationship development is where Kresley Cole shows the true strength of her writing. Both Evie and Jack have serious flaws, Evie’s hapless inability to look after herself is going to irritate any vaguely empowered female readers. Jack’s alpha-male qualities are interspersed with a liberal dose of rough-edged rude and crude, also guaranteed to annoy. Yet with a sprinkling of romance writing craft it all becomes turned around and suddenly you really want it to work out for them. Throw in a couple of chapters with explosive action and dramatic revelations at the end of the story and the cliff-hanger ending becomes almost superfluous. Interest in the next story instalment is guaranteed.
This book was rated down half a point for its general lack of vampires (sorry, it’s a site rule!)
LoveVampires Review Rating: