Since the night her mother was murdered, sixteen-year-old Rory Gray has known one truth: There are no good Seeders. In post-apocalyptic Australia, the scientists known as Seeders have built a Citadel surrounded by food-producing regions and populated with refugees from the wars and famine. To maintain their control, the Seeders poisoned the land and outlawed the saving of seeds.
It’s been six years since Rory graced the Seeders’ circus stage as the Wind Dancer and still the scars on her body haven’t healed. Even worse are the scars on her heart, left by a Seeder boy who promised to protect her. Now the Seeders are withholding supplies from Rory’s region for perceived disobedience. Utilising the Wanderer knowledge she received from her mother, Rory must journey to the Citadel through uninhabitable terrain to plead for mercy.
However, the Citadel isn’t as Rory remembered. The chief plant geneticist is dying and rumours fly that the store of viable seed is dwindling. The Seeders are desperate to find a seed bank they believe Rory can locate, and they will stop at nothing to get it. To defy the Seeders means death. But Rory has been close to death before–this time she’s learned the value of poison.
Recommended for fans of The Hunger Games, Divergent, strong protagonists, minority characters, circuses and nature!
The Good Bits.
The concept for Poison is fantastic and immediately drew me in. The fun thing about dystopian worlds is how the currency changes from money to something new. In this case it’s seeds and control over them. As Rory journeys through the forest to get to the Citadel you get a lot of Hunger Games esque mutated animals and plants. So not only is the government controlling the seeds, it’s also experimenting with them. Also there’s clones! This isn’t a major plot point so don’t worry about spoilers, but… clones! No one in the book seemed to be surprised or care about the clones, but I thought it was cool.
— Liselle (@lunchtimelib) December 31, 2015
It’s a bit tricky to pin down who the love interest is going to be in the beginning so I won’t spoil it for you. But I liked the relationship because there wasn’t any huge declarations of passion and/or love. It was more restrained which I appreciated because then it wasn’t cheesy. And because the Rory and her love interest have something of a history, it was believable that she could quickly come to love him. None of that insta-love silliness!
Rory as a character has her ups and downs, but for the most part I liked her. There were times when she did some majorly bad ass stuff that had me cheering inside. I may have cheered outside too. I may have said “damn, kitty’s got claws.” Maybe. Early on in the novel she gets a scar and part of her ear is damaged and I liked how she owned it. She just accepted it as being a part of her and that was admirable in a character. It’s always great to see a character that can accept their physical flaws and embrace them. She did sort of later get confused about why boys liked her though, which I could have done without. I also loved the relationship between Rory and her step-brother. A lot of times step-parents/siblings get a bad wrap in fiction, but not in Poison. It also helps that he’s a pretty lovable character.
There were a lot of different layers in Poison and the minute one thing was revealed, something bigger was revealed with it. It almost felt like there was no end to the espionage and mysteries. Which is a good thing! It helped keep the novel interesting and at the end of the book there’s still enough mystery to get you interested in the next one.
— Liselle (@lunchtimelib) January 1, 2016
Oh! Oh! And circus acrobatics stuff, can’t forget about that. The performances Rory does are like Black Swan meets Hunger Games. It takes a little while for the performing part to come into play, but it’s a unique detail that sets Poison apart from other dystopian novels.
The first half of the book, I found to be not well developed, confused, rushed, and inconsistent. I can understand the desire to get into the action right away, but not at the cost of sacrificing world building. I wished that Lan had taken more time to set the stage. I expected to be disorientated in the beginning, but not for the entire first half. It’s difficult to get a grasp on the setting. The novel is set in the future and occasionally Rory talked about places like Japan being ancient, but then where they live is still called Australia. Why is Japan extinct somehow but Australia has survived untouched? It would have also been helpful to have some more descriptions of the setting. All you get is that it’s in Australia and there’s a forest somewhere. I think it would have been better to ignore any current world names and just build the setting from the ground up. It was also unclear why the government is so violently oppressing its people. From the very beginning men, women, children, and elderly alike are often beaten mercilessly or killed in broad daylight. I found it very jarring to have so much extreme violence right from the get-go. And moreover I couldn’t figure out why it was so extreme. It seemed to be more for shock value than anything. Further, characters were dying left right and center. Again, for no real reason I could understand. I struggled to grasp why some characters were even introduced if they were going to die before they were developed. The action is the focus and the characters are secondary. Whenever someone died I shrugged and moved on, not even remotely bothered.
The Last Bite.
Based on the second half of the book I would recommend Poison as a read, and I will absolutely be reading the next book when it comes out. Especially since the characters and setting are well developed towards the end. Annddd there’s a big twist! So I kind of have to read the next book so I know what happens.
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