If you have read my Top 10, you will know that Kresley Cole is one of my favourite authors, and Poison Princess, the first in The Arcana Chronicles, (and her first foray into Young Adult fiction) is a reminder as to why. I could go on for hours, about Kresleys (I say this like we are on a first name basis..isn’t that what nutty people do?? Am I the only person to feel like they personally know an author when you adore their books?) Immortals After Dark series, and after reading Poison Princess I am pretty sure this is going to be another one of those series that I will be rambling on about for years to come.
So, a bit about the book would help I guess.
Evangeline Greene is one of those popular girls at school, who seem to have it all. Not only does she come from a rich home, with a mother who loves her, but also has the hot, uber rich, jock boyfriend, with a fast car, who dotes on her completely. She is on the cheer squad and is super popular with everyone. But not everything is rosie in Evie’s garden. Her family has a history of mental illness. Evie’s grandma has been shipped of to a Home after having kidnapped her when she was 8, and Evie is banned from contacting her.
You might wonder why Evie would want to contact the crazy old lady, well you see, the thing is… lately, Evie has been having (air quotes) problems. Her mental state is under scrutiny by her ever observant mother, and Evie believes that her Grandma will have answers for her. You see, Evie suffers from hallucinations, and they are not of the cute variety. They are of apocalyptic proportions, with horrific characters, who roam the country murdering, and in some cases, eating those that have survived The Flash. In order to remove the pictures from her head, Evie draws what she sees, and this is her undoing. When Evie’s mum discovers her sketch pad, and this is combined with her dropping grades, the two launch into a very disturbing conversation, which ends in Evie being whisked off to a Behavioural Clinic called Children’s Learning Clinic (renamed by the kids staying there as Child’s Last Chance) for the summer, in the hopes of undoing the damage done to her mental state by her grandmother all those years ago.
Upon her return to Sterling High School Evie is determined to put it all behind her, and counts off the years and days until she is free of Sterling, enabling her to head off into the world and start college. She wholeheartedly throws herself back into school life, trying to cope with the pressures of being a teen with a boyfriend who now, thanks to a promise made by herself earlier in the year, has nothing on his brain but Evie’s upcoming sixteenth birthday, and the carnal pleasures that it is going to bring.
Everything is going great until Evie comes across Jackson Deveaux. He and a few of his friends have been thrown out of their school in another parish and are now coming to Evie’s school. Jack is a bad boy, and not like anything Evie and her friends have come across before. He is known to have been on the wrong side of the law, drinks openly from a hip flask, and is wickedly handsome. He takes a shine to Evie, but when they are partnered up in class and Evie asks for a switch, he is fuming, thinking that she can’t see past his bayou upbringing.
ok… I have just looked back through this and I am rambling…but the problem is, all of this happens even before the story really gets going!!!
A few days into school, and things really start to go pear shaped for Evie. The hallucinations start up again and before she knows it she is reaching for her sketch pad. Her boyfriend is pressuring her into sleeping with him, and her grades are falling. But you know what… its ok… because Evie is saved… by the apocalypse of her dreams. No longer does she have to worry about being sent back to CLC, or that her boyfriend wants sex. Now all she has to worry about is the lack of food, water, electricity, fuel, the deaths of so many loved ones, and all the other things we take for granted. Ahh….and the visions…. they are still there, and then there are the voices.
When Jackson comes rolling up the road, armed and dangerous, (looking more hot than ever) insisting that Evie and her mother should leave the safety of their beautiful home, Evie thinks he is mad. Finally he convinces her, and she tells him of her plan to reach her grandma, in order to get the answers to the many questions she has. And this is where the real story begins…
From here on out Evie is on a voyage of discovery. About herself, the others like her, and what it means and takes to be a survivor of The Flash.
I can’t leave without writing about the chemistry between Jack and Evie as I found it captivating. As ever in a new relationship, trust is a massive issue. but that is more on Evie’s side than Jacks. She doesn’t know if he will look at her differently when he finds out whats going on inside her head, and it’s not until the very last part of the book, that you see his reaction to the true Evie.
Jack can be a bit of an arse, but in all honesty I like to read between the lines, and figure that the things which are coming out of his mouth are a reflection of his past, and how he has learnt to deal with disappointment but not actually what he feels or thinks. After all, when you believe that someone is disrespecting you, you aren’t going to come out all hearts and flowers, you are going to say things that will cut and hurt the person that has hurt you.
Evie, can sadly be a bit of a wet blanket, but then you have to remember that she is only 16, and has had for the most part, what can only be described as a pretty much charmed life. You could almost not like her because of it. So when The Flash hits, she’s not going to be the first girl out there waving a weapon around, hunting and killing stuff. Reality check..she is gonna be what I would call a bit of a wimp. She is going to have to GROW into her character and she will hopefully have a long running series in which to do it. By the end of Poison Princess you can see she is already starting to develop some claws 😉
Despite my loving Poison Princess there were a few things that I feel could have been done a little differently.
The first few chapters (after the prologue that grabs you and sits you down to read uninterrupted!) are a bit long winded. I know we need some back story, and I appreciated knowing the whys and wherefores of Evie’s past, but quite a bit of it is actually irrelevant to the main storyline, so it did feel like the story took some time to get going.
Then, once it did get going, we had a massive jump in time. 246 days in fact. During which time lots of things happen, and aren’t thoroughly explained. For example I would have liked to have known how Bagmen (not tellings cos don’t want to spoil it :p) came to be, as they are a rather important part of the ongoing story. Now I am generally speaking a very easy going reader. If an author can’t be bothered to explain every nuance of the story, and wants us to just go with the flow then I am not going to complain, I am going to sit back and enjoy the ride for what it is, but somethings are just too important to be glossed over.. unless of course it is all going to become clear later in the series, in which case, that’s fine and dandy and I will read it later, but in the case of the Bagmen, that really should have come at the beginning.
I read Poison Princess in 24 hours, which for me these days is unheard of. I am sitting here trying desperately to think of something other then WOW to describe the book, but it’s all I can come up with. I was totally absorbed into the world, only stopping to feed the children (and calls of nature)!! The reason its a 4.5 is due to the glossing over of some of the important bits, and for the longwindedness of the not so important bits, but on the whole it’s totally a “go and buy it” from me. I am going to struggle waiting for the next instalment which isn’t due out until next autumn *sobs*
N.B A word about the age range suitability. I would say this shouldn’t be read by anyone under 15. I tweeted to Kresley (my buddy..no..really..ok ok.. I can dream) and asked what age range she had in mind as an audience for Poison Princess, but she said that although she didn’t have a specific age in mind, she “probably wouldn’t recommend for very young teens.“
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