Poison Study is the story of Yelena, a young woman who kills the son of a general. She is on death row but is instead offered the position of food taster for the commander in chief. She accepts, which means she lives, which angers the general. The story follows Yelena as she navigates life in the castle and learns about life, magic, and poison.
I really really enjoy this book. I think it has now been made into a trilogy, which I haven’t read, but my sister has and she said it was good. It is well written, the characters are interesting, and the story is good and easy to follow. The thing I like the most about it is Yelena is not passive about her situation. She realizes she is powerless, so she does everything she can to change this. She takes self-defense classes, learns to pick locks, educates herself on the laws and people of her land. She is bold and takes what little control of her life she has. She doesn’t let her past stop her from moving forward.
This book also has a very subtle exploration of gender issues, which is super interesting. There are a lot of really good and empowering messages kind of hidden within this YA, which I think is one of the reasons I really enjoyed it. The relationship between Yelena and the person she falls for is respectful and honest and everything that I think a relationship should be. It’s action-packed, but still has bits of romance throughout (and the romance is my favourite cheesy kind).
I would recommend it for readers who like fantasy novels. It has magic and special kingdoms, but is still believable, so I think it would appeal to a lot of people. As for age, I think anyone who enjoys YAs with a little more substance would enjoy it. My 12-year old sister enjoyed it, 14-year old me enjoyed it when I first read it, and 20-year old me still enjoyed it when I re-read it this summer.
If you do read it, let me know what you think! It’s one of my favourite YAs!