Poison

Poison - Bridget Zinn This book had such a promising set-up, such a wonderful amount of potential. The tag line alone was enough to drag me in. All the right ingredients were there, just in the wrong proportions, and the end result was really rather dull.The book opens up with Kyra already on the run, and we get to dive right into some good plot. I wasn't happy with how the mystery was handled, though. We know that Kyra tried to kill her best friend, but they hold off on telling us why for most of the book. The reason? Kyra can see the future and had a vision of the princess doing evil magic. But...okay, so? That's a set-up right there, not a reveal. So I was cautiously optimistic after that opening, rolling along, enjoying Kyra as a character, until Fred showed up. And then the plot ground to a halt so we could spend the next 100 pages on romance. Oh, sure, there were some feeble attempts to remind people that she was still searching for the princess and trying to kill her. But it wasn't the focus. Instead we got page upon page about camping, and how awesome Fred is.Frankly, I didn't like Fred. He was a creeper. He's introduced to us as being happy and cheerful, as in, he's happily and cheerfully staring at Kyra in her underwear despite her obvious discomfort. Then he's happily and cheerfully putting his hands all over her, despite her requests to be put down. Most of his examples of 'cheerfulness' come at Kyra's expense, actually. He's clearly supposed to be a break from the brooding bad-boy stereotype, but it just doesn't work for me. He comes off as one of those assholes who thinks "If I find a joke funny, then everyone else should too!" Then he has the gall to ask Kyra why she doesn't trust him after spending a grand 6 hours in his company. It's kind of creepy.Once the two split and the plot comes back into action, things pick a bit better. But then we realize that the 'plot' is fairly bare bones. It felt like the story to a middle-grade novel, with all the characters painted in black and white. Everything was just so...straightforward and obvious. And marriage is handled very oddly in this book. The author has created a world where the monarchy is passed down from mother to daughter, where there's ruling Queens and Kings are, by definition, co-rulers who have a separate set of duties from the ruling Queen. But the princess doesn't want to get married because it means she would 'belong' to a man, and that's...unfeminist, or something. Historically, the whole 'wife owned by husband thing' has been a result of laws and customs, not the very concept of two people promising to stay together. One would think that, in a country that focused on Queenship, such customs would be different. Instead this author treats marriage like inequality is just an inherent part of the system.But in spite of the bland story and basic characters and creepy love interest...well, it's still kind of fun. There's not many bad messages, just confusing ones. The story is fun, and the setting is kind of bare-bones but leaves a lot of room for the imagination. It really does just feel like a run-of-the-mill middle grade novel that got accidentally shelved in the YA section.