Poison Princess by Kresley Cole
I’ve got a serious bone to pick with this one. And okay, part of it is my fault that I apparently didn’t read the synopsis carefully enough but mostly, it’s that so. Much. Bothered. Me.
I just barely avoided giving it a 1-star on goodreads, and even then the most I could bring myself to give was 2 stars. Let me make this clear: I hate giving books poor reviews. Often, enjoying a book is a very subjective thing and I feel like I’m doing a disservice to all the work the author put in, especially when by all accounts the book should have been good but it wasn’t good for me. If goodreads ratings are any indication, though, tons of people LOVED IT so I’m thinking this is more of an ‘it’s not you, it’s me’ kind of thing despite my first reaction being ‘no it’s totally just you.’
But nonetheless, this is gonna be angry.
Strike One: sexism. This novel plays on just about every freaking sexist trope and gender stereotype there is. Girls obsessed with popularity and looking pretty? Check. Slut-shaming? Check. Guys whose only priority is sex sex and more sex from whomever they can get it? Check. And that’s not all. Our ‘heroine’ is a ‘good-for-nothing’ (but sex) waste of space, ‘thorn-in-the-paw’–all their words, not mine–who can’t pull her own weight because she’s ‘too soft’ and needs to ‘toughen up’. Our ‘hero’ is a class-A alpha-male douchecanoe who goes around like he’s the literal SHIT in their post-apocalyptic wasteland calling Evie a bitch, an idiot, a thorn and intentionally putting her in emotionally difficult situations like a f*cking anti-feelings drill sergeant while bouncing between rebuking her for being a deadweight (but not giving her an opportunity to prove herself) and lusting after her because she’s literally the only girl he has access and his needs are driving him crazy (again, their words). Excuse me?! Oh and we can’t forget about all the men who survived the Flash that killed almost all the women, turning the guys into primal monsters so thirsty for a little bit of ass that Evie’s in severe danger of being captured by slavers and used as a brood mare because according to Jackson, women kept their dear beloved aggressive masculinity in check and without them they’re left to resort to their BASER INSTINCTS THAT ESSENTIALLY SAY GIRLS ARE PROPERTY AND RAPE IS A GOOD IDEA.
I was going to save the sexism thing for the end but within the first few chapters it’s already pretty blatant so why wait? The book didn’t.
Strike Two: insufferable characters. The picture I’ve already painted for y’all isn’t really a good one but let me expand. For all Jack taunts her about being weak, Evie sure doesn’t do much to prove she isn’t. She’s jealous and insecure, always afraid, and contents herself with following Jackson like a puppy dog, letting him do all the rough work. No wonder he accuses her of being deadweight–for most of the book, she is! It’s not until the very very end that she accepts her powers and fights back for once in her life. Jackson–I hated Jackson. An arrogant and crude asshole who bashes Evie all the time and doesn’t know when to back off or take ‘no’ for an answer. The best friend Mel’s humour is redeeming but morals are questionable, especially her encouragement to slut it up and put out for Brandon to staunch his attraction to another girl. Selena’s obnoxious, jealous, and secretive. Matthew and Finneas are about the only people I can tolerate and even then Finneas is lewd and kinda gross.
Strike Three: horrible romance. This is a love story. As a love story, it needs good romance. God at this point I’d have even taken passable, tolerable romance. But did I get that? Nope nope nope–I got bullshit. Calling Jack ‘a dog,’ as the saying goes, is an insult to dogs everywhere. He makes a point to stare at Evie’s ass, up her skirt, or down her shirt in ways that defy all notions of subtlety. He calls her a bitch all the time, taunts her mercilessly, and puts her down constantly. Then he goes and says stupid things like “maybe I came back to claim a taste of you” and “I know that smell. Honeysuckle. You’re liking ole’ Jack.” WHAT IN ALL THE SEVEN HELLS IS SEXY ABOUT “‘OLE JACK”?????? But oh, when she’s not too busy hating him Evie laps. It. Up. This is a hate–>love love story gone so wrong all it did was make me hate both of them.
Three strikes–you’re out! But one more very important thing: the plot.
This is a post-apocalyptic supernatural thriller, right? So why are the two-hundred-plus days after the Flash glossed over while the mostly irrelevant seven days leading up to it fleshed out in excruciating detail? And where is the explanation of where the Fash came from? Why and how did people become zombie-like bagmen? What’s up with the slavers? What the hell am I even reading?!
Overall, Poison Princess let me down. I can to an extent see why people do like it–the whole concept of the Major Arcana is actually what kept me from labelling it DNF and moving on with my life, the Prologue (told from a serial killer’s POV) hooks you so good from the start, and Cole is clearly a very skilled writer–but it just didn’t do it for me. Let me know what you guys thought in the comments below! I always like to hear a second opinion 🙂
Click here for the book synopsis on goodreads!