It's impossible to put into words how much we absolutely loved Bridget Zinn's Poison. It's the type of book with the same magical, feel-good qualities as some of the classic Disney films - e.g. Snow White.
While our review certainly can't do justice to the beautiful, funny world that Zinn has created, we're hoping that it'll inspire some of you to go out and buy the book.
-J & T
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published March 12th 2013 by Disney Hyperion
Format read: Physical copy (owned)
Synopsis via Goodreads:
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.
These were the stories that had a certain sense of magic in the story and the characters. They transported me to fictional lands, introduced me to brave and noble heroes, and made me believe that anything was possible - as long as you were brave enough to seek it, and industrious enough to see it to the end. And always, at the end of the day, there would be a happy, ending which would leave me feeling happy and with the belief that it would be possible to replicate this magic in my own life.
It's been years since I've read a book with that same sense of magic, but I've so happy to say I recently experienced it with Bridget Zinn's debut novel, Poison.
Things that worked:
Zinn has the rare gift of being able to create characters that are multi-dimensional and flawed, but who are also lovable.
(And in my honest opinion, they’re lovable in that sort of regal and heroic sort of way, that you really only see in Disney film characters.)
As the protagonist, Kyra is brave, feisty and snarky. She's confident in her potion-making abilities, but also not afraid to think on her feet and come up with an alternative plan to fix a situation, when things aren't working. Zinn does a wonderful job in showcasing how a girl who thinks she knows everything – like many teenagers in general - are still able to be surprised when they discover new things about the world around them.
I think that Kyra can be viewed as an excellent role model to younger readers – she proves that it’s possible to live in a mythical kingdom and – spoiler alert – be a princess, but also be capable and proactive enough to make your own path.
* The romance factor
I absolutely loved the fact that Fred is unlike most of the standard male love interests in YA. He’s not a bossy character, who orders the protagonist around and tells her what to do. Instead, he’s very smart, very funny and will readily admit that Kyra is extremely capable and kick-ass.
He’s also confident enough in himself that he won’t shy away from teasing Kyra when the moment calls for it. Finally, he will also rescue her when needed, and will gladly let her rescue him too!
Ultimately, I think that the Kyra-Fred romance not only creates a lot of humorous and enjoyable moments while reading, but could also be used as an excellent example of what a genuinely healthy relationship should be for younger readers.
* The plotting
Zinn does an excellent job of moving the action swiftly along, while also making sure to fill in much needed background information in the quieter moments.
She opens the book by throwing the reader into the action in the immediate aftermath of Kyra’s botched assassination attempt. As a result, I immediately felt invested in the situation, and curious about:
1) Why Kyra felt compelled to do something so unimaginable in the first place
2) How she was going to get out of such a complex and twisted situation.
Moreover, by establishing early on that Kyra is being hunted by the royal guard and her former potions colleagues, Zinn also imbues a sense of urgency into everything that Kyra does. I became worried that one misstep would lead to Kyra’s capture, and found myself cheering her on whenever she got closer to her goal of figuring everything out.
* The writing
Zinn writes in a friendly, effortless sort of way. The way that she sets up scenes, chooses her dialogue, and describes her settings; all do a lot to show that she was the type of person with a rich, loving and friendly personality.
There is a good humor and affectionate teasing sprinkled throughout the book, and it’s definitely one of those books where readers will finish the book just feeling better about life.
Things to consider:
The fact that Poison presumably wasn't put through the full-on editorial machine in the lead-up to publication - due to Bridget passing away - shows us that even without editing, Zinn’s world was intricate and magical one. The world that we’re already privy to is one that is so detailed and rich, it already jumps off the page.
This may sound slightly corny, but I feel like the reader can consider the book as a lovely final gift from Zinn - both for its story, but also as a gift to writers and readers alike - showing us the foundation of how truly gifted writers create amazing fictional universes from the ground up.
About the author:
Bridget wanted to make people laugh and hoped readers would enjoy spending time with the characters she created. As a librarian/writer she loved books with strong young women with aspirations. She also felt teens needed more humorous reads. She really wanted to write a book with pockets of warmth and happiness and hoped that her readers' copies would show the watermarks of many bath time reads.