POISON PRINCESS (Arcana Chronicles #1) by Kresley Cole
384 pages, hardcover
Available now (October 2012)
Publisher: Simon and Schuster for Young Readers
Review copy provided by author
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…
Positive: Creepy world. Pre-Flash, life is...life. Teens doing their thing. Parents doing their thing. Post-Flash, life has reverted to the Dark Ages, pretty much. It's a struggle to survive. Nothing is growing. Supplies are limited. There are cannibals and slavers and scavengers willing to kill you for a can of food. Militia-type groups form and roam the country searching for women and supplies. Life is short and brutal. (Me, I'd be dead within a week. Tops.)
Positive: Inventive mythology. Using the Major Arcana of a Tarot deck in such an creative way? Oh, I knew there was a reason I worship at your feet, Kresley Cole (see, it's not all about the hot smexiness of your adult novels! Plot counts. Of course.). I've always been intrigued by Tarot and love how Cole used the Major Arcana cards (The Magician, The Fool, The High Priestess, etc.) to represent important characters, those who will meet to do battle against one another. There's so much more to it but I'd be here all night talking about it!
Wish-ish: That Evie weren't quite so whiney. Granted, it's entirely understandable. Pre-Flash, she's set. Money, family, plenty of toys and clothes...pretty much anything her little heart desires. (Well, except for that time her mama locked her up in a mental institution because of her "visions". So add "slight mental instability" to her reasons to whine.) Post-Flash, her life is wiped away. She has to cope with a complete reversal of fortune, one she's not trained for or able to cope with at first. But she prevails, using her smarts to fend off scavengers, make do as supplies dwindled and rise above her circumstances. Oh, and the visions are back--and they're worse than ever. Still, less complaining, more sucking it up, Evie, 'kay? (or is it just me being whiney? Hum...)
Wishy-washy: That Jack weren't quite such a jackass. Ahem. So he's not always a jackass. At times, he's incredibly resourceful, good to have along when times get tough and flashes some sweet possibility and potential. But when that ass-y side emerges...whoo, buddy, watch out. He's got a whiplash tongue that can flay skin, an extremely short temper and the near-inability to trust, especially those who he hated Pre-Flash (*cough* Evie *cough*). Tisk, Jack.
Overall: Absolutely loved the world and the story--was a little disappointed the characters didn't rise to that level, though my disappointment stems from their very real and understandable reactions to the massive changes in their world and circumstances. No matter. There's no way I'm missing the next book in this series. I have to know what happens and if Evie "wins" and if Jack becomes the man he has the potential to be. POISON PRINCESS is a creative, creepy and ridiculously intriguing story that's practically impossible to put down.
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