Monday, December 23, 2013

Poison by Bridget Zinn

Summary (from Goodreads):
Sixteen-year-old Kyra, a highly-skilled potions master, is the only one who knows her kingdom is on the verge of destruction—which means she’s the only one who can save it. Faced with no other choice, Kyra decides to do what she does best: poison the kingdom’s future ruler, who also happens to be her former best friend.

But, for the first time ever, her poisoned dart . . . misses.

Now a fugitive instead of a hero, Kyra is caught in a game of hide-and-seek with the king’s army and her potioner ex-boyfriend, Hal. At least she’s not alone. She’s armed with her vital potions, a too-cute pig, and Fred, the charming adventurer she can’t stop thinking about. Kyra is determined to get herself a second chance (at murder), but will she be able to find and defeat the princess before Hal and the army find her?

Kyra is not your typical murderer, and she’s certainly no damsel-in-distress—she’s the lovable and quick-witted hero of this romantic novel that has all the right ingredients to make teen girls swoon.
So, I knew reading a book with this as its tagline: “Can she save the kingdom with a piglet?” could go one of two ways. Either it would be silly and unique or utterly cheesy and terrible. Thankfully, it was the first one. This book shocked me in its humor.
I seriously don’t think I have laughed this hard in a YA novel since the last Louise Rennison book (which at least I know about and can prepare ahead of time to never read in public, and embarrass myself). This little gem came with me to work, to read during lunch and I was laughing out lout in front of librarians, who thankfully, just wanted to know what I was reading.
I don’t really recall laughing this much in a fantasy book ever, with the exceptions of Princess Bride and Stardust. This book had a lot of absurd, embarrassing, hilarious moments that really added so much more voice to an otherwise rather formulaic plot. Though, I loved the formulaic plot too. Sometimes a girl just wants to read about another girl saving a kingdom.
I also loved the piglet! Apparently there’s certain special pigs that can be used for tracking people. And Kyra puts the pig to use immediately in finding the princess she needs to kill. And while at first having an extra mouth to feed is a hindrance on Kyra’s plans, she comes to slowly love her tracking pig.
I like that the book treated potion making like science. It was not really considered magic; it was a science that people (with no magical ability) could train to do, and it was a respected and difficult field to go into. And of course, Kyra is the only girl. And on top of that she is the kingdom’s foremost expert in her field. Kyra is smart, brave, and fast on her feet, which is handy when the whole world is out to get you.
I liked that nothing was simple with the princess. Kyra’s memories of her friend made the princess become a real person. And made the whole story/situation that much harder to take. I also found how characters viewed witches and those born with magical talent, very interesting. There’s witches, magical creatures, giant dogs, piglets, gypsies, thieves, potioners, and a million chase scenes.
I loved that nothing was as it seemed. So many key characters were pretending to be other people, and this added to the overall humorous absurdity. I absolutely just couldn’t stop laughing when I read about Kyra meeting the new love interest for the first time. I can’t write it down and ruin it. It was just so unbelievably hilarious, and I wish I was reading that scene at home and not in front of coworkers, but what can you do?
I’m glad this book is a Stand Alone, and I can add it to my challenge for the year, but I’m also sad that there won’t be more. And the saddest thing of all was reading the author bio at the back and realizing that this genius writer passed away, so there won’t be any more wonderful stories to look forward to. I am so glad though that I came across this. YA is definitely a genre that needs more laughs. Add the laughs to a strong, kick-butt main character, a funny love interest, an anti-wedding princess, scary evil spells, great characters, a magical world, and a well developed plot and you get one pretty remarkable novel. This gets a 10/10.

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