Author: Kresley Cole
Narrator: Emma Galvin, Keith Nobbs
Series: The Arcana Chronicles, book #1
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio
Publication Date: October 2, 2012
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Audible
Poison Princess could've been great. As it stands, I'm not sure if I liked this story or not. It was so confusing and convoluted and there was so much miscommunication. And it's probably one of those rare books (for me, anyway) where it would have made more sense had I read the text instead of listening to the audio simply because there was so much going on.
One of the things that bugged me the most was that the reader never learns the cause of the apocalyptic event that nearly wipes out all life on the planet. We only see glimpses of it through Evie's visions, and even then, they're not reliable because Evie is too preoccupied with her own sanity to give the visions any credibility. Speaking of, could Evie be any more dense? She asks plenty of questions throughout the story but never the right ones. It was infuriating and made it that much harder to connect with her as a character.
It doesn't help that I was immediately put off by Evie's immaturity and lack of experience when it came to boys. For example, in the very beginning of the novel, Evie admits to promising her boyfriend that she would sleep with him when she turns 16 if they're still together. This is her way of keeping him interested because he apparently has roaming eyes, and she's afraid of losing him. What?!? That is not okay! Purportedly, Evie is attractive and popular, a cheerleader and queen bee-type, so I'm sure there is someone else for her, someone who treats her better. But even if there's not, never in a million years is that okay!
My next point of contention is ole Jack, who likes to refer to himself as such. My problem isn't actually with his character because even though he is flawed in ways you don't want to know, at least he's always honest. He never said he was a good guy or that he'd rescue Evie from the hell she's found herself in or any of those chivalrous declarations that most YA heroes make when in this situation. No, my problem with ole Jack is Evie's immediate hatred toward him, despite not knowing anything about him. Despite drooling over him and practically describing him as sex-on-a-stick. Because really, is insta-hate any better than insta-love?
In spite of generally disliking all of the characters and the "romance", the tarot aspect kept me intrigued. I didn't really know much about tarot going into this book, and I still don't really understand it now, but the story focuses on the Major Arcana, or the 22 trump cards without suits. According to the synopsis for this novel, there are 22 teens linked to each trump card and they are to fight "the ultimate battle between good and evil". Each teen has a special power or ability related to the card they represent in the Major Arcana, and I'm assuming it's going to help them in this epic battle. Yeah, I didn't see much of that storyline in this novel, but it's the first in the series, so I guess we're building up to that. Had the story focused more on that and the apocalypse and less on Evie's neurosis and her ever-changing feelings toward ole Jack, I might have enjoyed it more.
As I mentioned before, I might actually have liked this novel better had I read it instead of listening to the audio. Emma Galvin was great as the narrator...except when she was voicing Evie, but maybe that was the point. Evie was portrayed as selfish and naive and immature, and that's exactly how she sounds on the audiobook. I'm not sure how to rate my agitation due to that fact. The narrator does a great job with all of Jack's Cajun phrasing and French vocabulary, though. What I didn't get was why there was a separate narrative at times for the man that Evie is relaying her story to. Why did he get his own POV? (And why can't I remember his name?!?) That's not the fault of the narrator or the audiobook, but it felt unnecessary to include this perspective, even after knowing his relation to the story.
This was my first Kresley Cole novel, and I'm sure it won't be my last because my curiosity will get the best of me, and I will have to find out what happens to Evie and the rest of the Major Arcana. Regardless, I am not impressed...not after all of the raving for this book and her adult novels. I just didn't see whatever those readers apparently saw. If I had reviewed this immediately after listening, I would have given it 2 stars. A week or so ago when I was trying to remind myself about the book and characters in order to review it, I might have given it 3, maybe 3 1/2 stars. Now that I've gotten my rant out of the way, I feel like it was somewhere in-between.
“Matthew, exactly how psychic are you?”
“So psychic that other psychics should be called Mattics.”
“At that, the initial mrowr pfft pfft I'd felt transformed into I will cut a bitch.”
“If you touch me like that again, Evangeline,” he began in a husky tone, dropping to his seat once more, “in the space of a heartbeat, I will have you off this bike and onto the closest horizontal surface. And I woan be picky, no.”