Released: October 2, 2012
Hardcover: 384 pages
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Source: BEA (and Karen, specifically!)
Genre: YA Dystopian
Series: The Arcana Chronicles
Sixteen year old Evangeline “Evie” Greene leads a charmed life, until she begins experiencing horrifying hallucinations. When an apocalyptic event decimates her Louisiana hometown, Evie realizes her hallucinations were actually visions of the future—and they’re still happening. Fighting for her life and desperate for answers, she must turn to her wrong-side-of-the-bayou classmate: Jack Deveaux.
But she can’t do either alone.
With his mile-long rap sheet, wicked grin, and bad attitude, Jack is like no boy Evie has ever known. Even though he once scorned her and everything she represented, he agrees to protect Evie on her quest. She knows she can’t totally depend on Jack. If he ever cast that wicked grin her way, could she possibly resist him?
Who can Evie trust?
As Jack and Evie race to find the source of her visions, they meet others who have gotten the same call. An ancient prophesy is being played out, and Evie is not the only one with special powers. A group of twenty-two teens has been chosen to reenact the ultimate battle between good and evil. But it’s not always clear who is on which side…
Worldbuilding is one of the strongest features in Kresley's books. She has these complex and captivating environments in her series that pull me in and keep me coming back for more--and POISON PRINCESS (PP) is no different. Instead of following before the Flash and after in a chronological order of events, we bounce back and forth between the two. Even better? Instead of a jarring experience, I felt that the shifts enhanced the story. By the end of the novel, all loose ends were tied and I felt like i had an "Aha!" moment. I understood this book in ways I did not before.
The concept of the Arcana is a unique approach to a new series that many YA readers have not yet seen, and I feel that this new and shiny allure will beckon many new readers. I have no doubt that Kresley will earn an even larger following of rabid fans. I'm convinced she can't write a bad book.
My only complaint, and why I rated this 4 stars, is about the characters. I'm used to Kresley's adult romances, which feature one couple per book in an overarching series. I've almost come to expect character flaws to be resolved and for the couple to live HEA and that's it. Instead, I'm now exploring a new series which is solely based on Evie's experiences, and for that reason, we obviously can't have everything perfect between her and Jack by the end of PP. I wish the other Arcana characters didn't annoy me as much as they did at times, but something tells me that they were purposefully written that way because the group just met and don't know each other. Regardless of logic explaining the why's, it was difficult to like many of the characters.
I want Evie and Jack together, and I appreciated the glimpses of the strengths these two shared as a couple. The problem was that both are very...difficult to like due to their pigheadedness. I have no doubt this will change in future installments, since Kresley doesn't ever leave her characters that lacking, but I think those new to her writing will write the duo off as hopeless. I hope new readers will hold out until at least book two.
Evie is a spoiled brat, which did not bother me since she does have a few redeeming qualities (which I think are related with her abilities), but I know many will not like her initially. My problem with her had more to do with her lack of development as a character until literally the last ten pages. She has a bad case of denial, and tried to run away from her problems and avoid confrontations. It took me until the end of the book to fully understand why she was so reluctant to tell Jack any of her secrets, and by that time, I was honestly glad that she didn't. The girl needed to have her own badass moment.
Jack...not many are going to like him, I think. He's a sexy Cajun, but he also drinks booze way too much. To top it off, he is a loose cannon ready to go off on anyone around him that doesn't deserve the treatment (but perhaps my conclusion has been tainted since I was reading this from Evie's POV). I couldn't understand his temper tantrums half the time, and yet, despite that, part of me connected with this character and his frustrations. I think Evie's annoying denials would have made anyone explode, and for that reason, he didn't come off as a completely unlikable hero. Just one that is a bit too rough around the edges at this point in time.
Aside from that complaint, this book was flawless, and I think this series is going to be another big hit amongst the reading community. Definitely recommend reading this!
1. Poison Princess