POISON STUDY by Maria V. Snyder
Verdict: An addictive first taste, didn't quite last to the end.
When the day comes for Yelana to meet the hangman's noose, she is offered a choice: face execution, or tempt death every day as the Commander's food taster.
It's a fantastic premise, with a pacy beginning. The pages hooked me fast, with Yelena dragged from her cell and offered a chance to live a dangerous life over death in chapter one. The poison lessons start immediately, and next follows whole host of characters with motives to kill Yelena. I worried about her a lot, at first. But she learned fast and adapted to the danger, which made her compelling to read about.
I liked how Yelena's past unravelled throughout the story. She's a survivor of impossible situations. In the world of Ixia, a crime is a crime, no matter the circumstances, and Yelana's story paints a moral grey over this system.
There was a good mix of characters to pick apart. Valek fascinated me. His mood's curiously shifted around, and he fought hard to protect Yelena against his better judgement. Ari and Janco brought a lot of charm to the story, too, and I can't wait to read more about them. Rand, the suspiciously friendly cook, also added another element to the story. I spent the novel trying to work out how much Yelena should trust him.
This book surprised me in many ways, and at first in a good way. Towards the end, I fell out of sync with it entirely. I hadn't expected the story to take certain turns and it left me with mixed feeling. I'm usually a huge fan of magic, but it seem to distract from the poisonous premise, adding in another layer in a busy plot. Now, I might be alone in my next thought, but the romance felt unnecessary to me. I enjoyed the story a lot more when I thought this was a book about friendship and allies.
A lot happened around the climax, and I stopped believing that Yelena's character would be able to accomplish so much so quickly. I felt sad for not liking this too much after adoring the dark start. I'd definitely give the sequel a go.
Source: Bought it.