Poison Study - Maria V. Snyder This one was okay and definitely a 3 star book.

The Gist

POISON STUDY is about a girl who, after being sentenced to death, is instead given the opportunity to be the military leader's food taster. Valek, the military leader's chief of security, teaches Yelena to identify poisons by their smell and taste. To ensure her loyalty, Valek poisons Yelena with Butterfly Dust, a poison that will kill her if she is not administered a daily antidote. This entire setup becomes complicated when Yelena starts to fall in love with Valek.

My Reaction

Interesting premise, lukewarm execution.

I think what bothered me most about this book was that it was a purely romance-driven (and maybe a little character-driven) with little attention to anything else. The world in which Yelena and Valek live is never fleshed out. It just hangs like wallpaper as the actors strut their stuff on the stage. We see that Yelena and Valek live in a military dictatorship, but other than the matching uniforms that people wear and military terms like "barracks" thrown around, it doesn't even give off the faintest whiff of any dictatorship I've ever read about. The setting is more like an accessory to further validate Valek's position of power and Yelena's captivity, rather than an important aspect of the plot. This, I think, was a missed opportunity since military dictatorship isn't a commonly tread path in fantasy.

The chemistry between Yelena and Valek was slow burning but pleasing, especially in light of Yelena's unusual occupation. You would always wonder at Valek's reaction after Yelena consumes a potent poison--at his order. But the one glaring snag in their relationship was the Butterfly Dust. I didn't mind the fact that he administered it to her, but how the entire debacle resolved was a major disappointment. Really, Valek? A psychological mind game? That's the best you could do as the CHIEF OF SECURITY? I found the conclusion a let down.

Otherwise, a decent read and worth your time. I've only fully read this book and a part of the second book in the entire POISON series. However, if the second book is any indication, POISON STUDY is the best book out of them all.

3.0 stars and recommended.