Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
I'm giving this book 2 stars (it was okay), and I wish I weren't. I wish it had been as awesome as it was promised to be. But, unfortunately, it wasn't.
The writing was okay. The flashbacks scenes really should have been in italics- that was the main thing I noticed, which is a pretty good sign that the rest at least wasn't objectionable. It took me three days to bother to get past the first page, simply because the lack of italics made things so confusing. This was handled better later in the book, but still... italics would have fixed everything. The dialogue was also rather problematic- I can't quite pinpoint what was wrong with it, but somehow it came off as laughably stiff and fake. I was able to mostly ignore it, but sometimes what should have been conversations so unimportant as to be unnoticed had me wincing and putting the book down.
The plot... meh. I was hoping for complex court intrigue and was given something at the depth of your average book intended for fifth graders. The author felt the need to explain everything three times, even things so obvious that they shouldn't have been explained at all. What subtlety there was was entirely and systematically destroyed by excessive exposition. It was disappointing. There was nothing special or interesting, no twists. Just... nothing.
Character-wise things were a little better. Yelena can be irritating but undeniably a fine heroine. Just not my kind of heroine. I had no real complaints about her, but nothing to compliment either. Meh. Valek was fine. As a character, that is. As a love interest he honestly terrifies me. He has a temper, and when he gets angry he throws things (Yelena is left cowering as he hurls rocks at her several times). Also, he's a known assassin and murderer (not just in the cause of good), but we have no problem with that... right? Because curls! For a physical and rape abuse victim in particular this horrifies me, but Valek isn't suited to be anyone's love interest. I found nothing swoon-worthy and much to intensely dislike. Their relationship was also a source of much eye-rolling throughout. The author felt the need to make things absurdly melodramatic (does he love you or is he just worried about someone filling a position he literally regularly murders people in because he considers them so disposable... LET'S THINK). Gah. Enough of that.
Setting-wise, okay. I'm not a huge fan of the military dictatorship they have going on, but whatever. The commander subplot was...um... unnecessary.
Basically, whole thing was incredibly mediocre, some bits were infuriating, and I'm not sure why it inspired me to such a long review.
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