Author: Kresley Cole
Genre: YA, Apocalyptic/Post-Apocalyptic, Paranormal, Romance, AWESOME
Publication Date: October 2, 2012 (Simon & Schuster – North America)
Source: Publisher-provided ARC
Summary: #1 New York Times bestselling author Kresley Cole introduces The Arcana Chronicles, post-apocalyptic tales filled with riveting action, the dark mysticism of Tarot cards, and breathtaking romance.She could save the world—or destroy it.
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…
☆: 4.5/5 stars – an absolutely fantastic YA debut for Cole!
Review: I was really pleasantly surprised by this one, guys. I’ve skimmed some of Cole’s adult releases and wasn’t too into them, but man, can she write a mean mid-to-older YA book. This book has pretty much everything for everyone – end-of-the-world prophecies, apocalypses of various sorts, magic, romance, and zombies. What’s not to love? “Poison Princess” was everything I’d hoped it would be, and now my hands are absolutely itching to get my hands on book two.
One thing I’ve always found interesting in YA is the sheer range of obscure paranormal topics that have been excluded from the traditional sphere of what’s now become normal paranormal YA – and the tarot is one of them. I frequently throw the cards, that’s no secret, so when I heard there was a book based on the major arcana, I got excited. And while the story meanders and veers off-topic at some places, this book had fantastic characters, chilling sensory imagery/language, and awesome worldbuilding. The way the storytelling was structured (POVs, etc) was also very, very well done – I loved the structure of Evie telling her story to a stranger, and it all just simply worked.
Okay, so there were places where, at times, I did chuckle or roll my eyes at certain places in the book (our first meeting with Jackson…okay, well, a lot of situations with Jackson) where things were a little over the top. But Cole knows how to create a sizzling romance that actually had me wanting more, and look, ma, no love triangle! That bit made me cheer the most, to be honest. Considering Evie’s position and the number of Arcana characters that were male, that’s a pretty amazing thing. In other YA books, there might have even been a love rhombus. Another great thing – these two bicker a LOT, and Jackson teaches her humility toward those lower on the socioeconomic totem pole. I liked that a ton, too, considering how, well, stuck up Evie was at the beginning. While he could be incredibly frustrating, Cole ultimately made him a compelling and sympathetic character and the romance between Jackson and Evie felt (mostly) natural, if not sped up a bit by the apocalypse.
The sensory language: oh, wow. All of the scenes created, both “real” (before the flare and after) and “hallucinated” by Evie, were just gorgeous. They were chilling, magical, and utterly awesome. I was blown away by the pictures being painted by Cole, and that leaves into the worldbuilding. The worldbuilding was also very well done, and as book one is kind of a set up for everything to come, she did a great job with weaving this absolutely dysfunctional post-Flare world and a great internal world (and internal worldbuilding is HARD to do and rare to find) in Evie’s head, as well. I found that the characters wove pretty well back into the world, though there were some stray threads (Finn felt a bit out of place in terms of the Arcana world/arc), it was pretty satisfactory for me.
What I hope Cole expands on more is not only the more minor characters’ (Finn, Selene) roles within the Arcana, and hopefully, maybe more on the tarot for those who don’t know about it. My ultimate wish is that the whole tarot (including minor arcana) to be integrated into this series, but that would make it REALLY long, so just a few mentions would be awesome.
Final verdict? One of the most original YA debuts of the year that you just can’t forget, “Poison Princess” is just one big book full of awesome. It drops October 2, 2012 in North America from Simon and Schuster Children’s, so be sure to check it out then. It’s in great company on my best of 2012 list, and its place there is very well deserved indeed. Now, can I have book two now?