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Description⎮Reviewed Apr. 2016
Narrator: Gabra Zackman
Length: 10h 26m
Publisher: Harlequin Books⎮2005
4.5 ★ Audiobook⎮ I’ve been wanting to get around to this series for quite a while now and I am beyond happy to say that it was worth the wait! There were a couple of things that bothered me a bit (to be discussed), but the plot was so overwhelmingly intriguing that they weren’t major detractions. First of all, I loved the focus on poisons. I was initially worried that this story would be alchemy-based and, thus, over my head, but it was not. Snyder must subscribe to the KISS theory (keep it simple, stupid!), because she chose to rely on her writing ability rather than bombard the reader with loads of science-y jargon. Magic actually played a larger role in the story than I was expecting. When I first realized that, I braced myself for the worst. I’m really peculiar about magical stories (Harry Potter generation). Fortunately, the KISS theory also prevailed there and, from what I’ve heard so far, that’s pretty easy to follow too. The magical aspect of the story somewhat reminds me of that seen in Truthwitch, only much better done. The next installment is supposedly more magic-focused, so we shall see if Snyder’s brand of magic lives up to my standards.
I thought Yelena was an excellent character and I was immensely happy that Snyder neglected to take the “victim” path with her, instead allowing her to slowly begin to morph into a self-sufficient woman, more than capable of kicking ass. However, I’m not exactly sure of how I feel about her romantic situation. On the one hand, I’m very pleased that the author chose to let it blossom slowly (no insta-love here). On the other hand, this romance is giving off vague vibes of Stockholm syndrome. And, not to be ageist or anything, but coupling an 18-year-old with a 33-year-old in a young adult novel is questionable, especially when considering the Stockholm syndrome aspect. I’ll brush my doubts aside for the sake of the story, but I don’t think this is a romance I could ever be on board with. Props for ingenuity, though.
But the main thing that bothered me basically from start to finish was the imbalance. Maybe “imbalance” isn’t the right term, but I don’t know how best to put it. When a story has you on the edge of your seat, it’s generally a good thing, right? I think so. But the best stories understand that there is a process of “give and take” to balance out the story. To put it plainly, Yelena was either attacked, abducted, poisoned, or otherwise harmed somehow in nearly every chapter. To begin with, it was what hooked me about the story. But after a while, it got extremely redundant, not to mention exhausting. “Danger lurking around every corner” sounds great at first, but it got old pretty quickly and had me constantly going “Ugh, again?”. The thing is, this story did not even need half of those cheap thrills to be captivating. I would have been much happier if the pace has slowed from time to time for a little more anticipation-building and development.
With all of that said, I will most definitely be continuing with this series. I don’t know how or where I’ll come up with the credits for for more installments (plus the short stories), but hear me now, I will do so!
Narration review: Gabra Zackman was new to me as a narrator, but thoroughly enjoyable. Her narration of Poison Study more closely resembled a performance than a reading. Her distinct impressions of the characters’ voices (vocal tones and accents) greatly enhanced my connection to them and to the story. I’m extremely pleased to have discovered her and hope to hear her work soon again! This audiobook also boasted a musical melody in between chapters which helped to set the atmospheric tone, as well as retain my attention, and let me know a new chapter was beginning (that’s helpful). However, it should be noted that the audible quality of this audiobook was not the best. It had a noticeable echo, similar to what you would hear from a bootleg recording, not an Audible purchase. It wasn’t anything that prevented me from enjoying the audiobook, but others may have a bigger problem with it than I did. I suggest listening to the sample to gauge your tolerance of it before purchase. Subsequent installments do not seem to have this problem. * I’m interested to hear if any other listeners detect listening quality issues or if the problem was something on my end. ♣︎