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review: “poison study” November 17, 2009

Posted by Katie in reviews.
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Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder.
Mira // Paperback // 416 pages.
Reviewed from purchased copy.

After killing General Brazell’s only son, Yelena has spent her last days in prison awaiting execution. But, on the day of her execution, she is offered a choice — die, or serve at the Commander’s food taster. Yelena chooses to train as a food taster, sampling different kinds of poison in order to learn about them. But Yelena’s past creeps up on her present, and she finds herself at the center of two countries’ conflicts.

This book really surprised me. The gorgeous YA re-cover is what drew me in, but I didn’t expect to find such a high-fantasy world. I loved the world building, this mix between medieval and industrial — the separations of worlds because of this, the conflicts that this would cause. The background of the two countries is so lush and rich that the author could have just stopped there.

But, Snyder didn’t — the character of Yelena is strong, fleshed out, believable, and one of my favorites of all time. The supporting characters stand their own against Yelena’s personality, and contribute to the plotline. I guessed who Yelena’s love interest was going to be early on, and wasn’t surprised to find out I was right. I don’t know if it’s obvious, or I just picked the right couple to root for. A re-read somewhere in the future would probably help me figure that out.

While I think this title has good YA appeal, I would probably still shelve it in the adult section. Content wise, there’s nothing in there that prevents it from being placed in YA (there is one fairly graphic scene…but nothing I haven’t seen already in YA), but I would rather use this as a bridge into adult for teens. Definitely recommended for public libraries with a strong following of fantasy readers.

SWAN catalog
Maria V. Snyder




1. jennifer - November 17, 2009

I LOVED this book – any all her other books. She’s quickly become a favorite author of mine.

2. historyofshe - November 18, 2009

SO GOOD. I really loved this series– the first book was probably my favorite though. 🙂

3. Lauren (I Was A Teenage Book Geek) - November 28, 2009

Interesting review. I think I’ve held back on reading these because I haven’t been attracted to the covers I’ve seen – they look more adult fantasyish, which isn’t generally my thing. From your review, I really like the sound of the world-building though, so I might look into this one a bit further.

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