Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder
Publication Date/Version: March 2007/Paperback
Age Group: Young Adult
Received From: Harlequin Teen Panel
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...
Where to begin? I've been wanting to read this book for a long time, and I finally got the chance when the Harlequin Teen Panel sent it my way. I'm so glad they did.
Poison Study had it all - loads of adventure, a scandalous romance, a great back story, and even better characters. There was always something exciting happening in this book, whether Yelena's life was being threatened or she was simply doing her daily training. The plot was non-stop excitement, never a dull moment. I got through this quickly, completely devouring it. Yelena was a wonderfully strong heroine that I loved to read about. She was a tough girl who could fight for herself. All of the other characters were great, as well. I loved Ari and Janco, along with Valek. They all had their own quirks and motivations.
(Small spoiler) Yelena and Valek's relationship was a confusing one, but I'm so happy they ended up together. This is a bit of a spoiler, but it's pretty predictable. Valek could be so frustrating and Yelena's feelings for him were never quite clear to me. One thing I found a little odd was their age difference. Yelena was only about 16, while Valek was in his mid-30s. That bothered me a bit, but Yelena seemed so much older than she actually was, and Valek cared for her so much that it distracted me from that fact.
Yelena's back story was completely amazing, in both good and bad ways. Good in that she was able to fight through it, but bad in what horrendous acts she had to suffer through. I was appalled by the things that had happened to her, as will be other readers. Some of it was tough to read, but in the end, Yelena shows a lot of character and is able to trust people and come back from her terrible past. Poison Study was a wonderful story, and I can't wait to read the next in the series.
Overall: A captivating read that takes the reader on a fascinating journey through Yelena's struggles to stay alive.
My Advice: Buy a copy of this at your local bookstore. I recommend this for older teens, however, as some of the content is too much for younger ages.
Cover: I like the cover quite a bit. The castle setting fits the book, and the way the girl is sneaking around reminds me of Yelena perfectly.