(Arcana Chronicles #1)
Release: October 2, 2012
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….
Wow, Kresley Cole has seriously impressed me with her young adult debut, Poison Princess. The idea behind the story is so fresh and original and her writing is so amazing and complex. I am excited by the promise of more YA from her in the future!
Poison Princess is an unusual YA book and I often found myself forgetting that the book was intended for young adults, although this one is definitely recommended for mature teens and adults. Cole's characters are so multi-faceted and different in a genre stuffed with cookie cutter characters. And the writing.....Oh the writing! Cole is a master at prose and she doesn't hold back just because this is YA.
Something to note - this book is not fast-paced. This book is the first in what I am assuring you will be an epic series. And to get to that epic place, the first book must set everything up. Poison Princess is that first book. The first 100 pages occur before the apocalyptic event. You will get to know a lot of the major players in the series and see Evie's life before the apocalypse. This is important, because Evie is reminiscent of Mac's character from the Fever series. Remember how Mac was a vapid, little blond who couldn't do anything to help herself? Yeah, that's Evie. And watching her change and grow just in this book alone was really amazing. I can only imagine who she will be by the end of this series. Picture Mac from Darkfever and then Mac (with her MacHalo) from Shadowfever. Yeah, that's going to be Evie.
The series is based on the idea that the 22 Major Arcana cards of the Tarot card deck are actually real people with real superhuman powers.Some of them know what they are and what they can do and some of them don't. Going in, I knew nothing about Tarot cards so I was hoping not to be confused. Cole does a nice job of helping the reader understand the concept and the history behind it. I was totally mesmerized by this unique concept, which I have certainly never read before.
As I was reading, I almost forgot that this book was going to take an apocalyptic turn as I got used to observing Evie in her own personal hell of waking visions and horrible nightmares, along with all the side characters attending high school with her. Evie teeters on sanity as she battles the crazy she thought she had gotten rid of, but manages to keep it a secret from her perfect boyfriend and group of popular, cheerleader best friends.
Enter Jackson Devereaux, bad boy extraordinaire. Jackson and a small group of his friends are new to Evie's high school, fresh from the swamps of Louisiana with the Cajun accent and all. Jackson is a really complex character and although you will find him sexy as hell you will go back and forth between love for him and hatred. He made me so angry sometimes and even when I understood what he was doing I was still so mad I could throw my book! Jack and Evie have quite the tumultuous relationship that sees many ups and downs throughout the book. What I loved about them was that there was no insta-love and no "he's so hot it doesn't matter how he treats me".
Cole writes the two as unapologetically real with no short cuts. She doesn't give in to the typical pattern of a YA paranormal romance and instead pushes the characters to the extreme. I love her for this. Sometimes you might want to smack Evie and sometimes you might not understand how we are supposed to love Jack, but when the book ends you will feel like you've just lost touch with two people you actually know.
And when the apocalyptic event that we are all expecting finally occurs, the post-apocolypse world that Cole creates is intricate and scary. Watching as Jack, Evie, and others navigate their new ruined world only a few months into it is nerve wracking. There is a serious lack of food and water, females are rare and therefore highly coveted, and the monsters are both supernatural and human. Everyone must learn to become someone or something new, especially these teenagers that are the Arcana cards. I especially loved confusing and endearing Matthew, Evie's secret friend that she sees through visions.
When the secrets of who these teenagers are and what they are supposed to do is finally revealed you will be shocked. Of course, then you'll have to wait for the sequel to find out what happens next.
Recommended for fans of: dystopians and post-apocolyptics, Southern settings, Tarot, unique plots, hot but frustrating Cajun boys, mature YA, The Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa, and Shatter Me by Taherah Mafi.