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Thursday, October 29, 2009

'Study' trilogy by Maria V. SNYDER


Poison Study: from the BLURB:

About to be executed for murder, Yelena is offered an extraordinary reprieve. She'll eat the best meals, have rooms in the palace -- and risk assassination by anyone trying to kill the Commander of Ixia.

And so Yelena chooses to become a food taster. But the chief of security, leaving nothing to chance, deliberately feeds her Butterfly's Dust -- and only by appearing for her daily antidote will she delay an agonizing death from the poison.

As Yelena tries to escape her new dilemma, disasters keep mounting. Rebels plot to seize Ixia and Yelena develops magical powers she can't control. Her life is threatened again and choices must be made. But this time the outcomes aren't so clear . . .

Maria V. Snyder’s debut trilogy hit shelves in 2005 with ‘Poison Study’, followed by ‘Magic Study’ in 2006 and concluding with ‘Fire Study’ in 2008. While it’s often touted as a Young Adult series, I think the ‘Study’ trilogy is a treat for YA and adult readers alike. I also think the books lean more toward adult subjects and conflicts.

When we meet Yelena she is 20 years old – though she acts much older, with the weight of the world on her shoulders. Kidnapped at the age of 6 and made into a slave, Yelena was frequently tortured and raped by her captors until she murdered one of them and managed to escape – only to head to the noose. Yelena is an extraordinary protagonist – she doesn’t mince words, is inherently distrusting and thick-skinned. She’s had an awful life, but never feels sorry for herself – rather she is proud to be a survivor. She’s also an adventurer and risk-taker;

My future appeared to be a long twisted road fraught with knots, tangles and traps.
Just the way I liked it.

‘Poison Study’ was my favourite book in the trilogy. The first book’s storyline is incredibly compelling – not least because Yelena’s past ordeals are slowly unravelled through her narrative. One of the most interesting aspects of ‘Poison Study’ is Yelena’s role as taste tester to the Commander – Snyder includes lots of interesting facts about the job of taste tester and her beautifully vivid descriptions of scent and flavour are a delight to read.

One of the things that ensured my love of this series was Yelena’s romance with her taste-testing teacher, Valek. A cold, cruel assassin, Snyder wrote one of the sweetest couplings between these two characters – and their romance works beautifully in ‘Poison Study’ because it’s a slow unravel of emotions, a bit surprising for the reader (and Yelena) when those emotions come to the fore.

I was a bit worried when I started reading the 2nd book, ‘Magic Study’. Yelena has just left the north with her magic tutor, Irys, as they head for the Citadel to commence Yelena’s magic training. After Snyder established such wonderful characters in ‘Poison Study’ I was really disappointed at the disappearance of Yelena’s bodyguards, Ari and Janco and especially her love interest, Valek. Even more so since ‘Poison Study’ ended on such a cliff-hanger for Valek and Yelena. But Snyder is such a compelling storyteller that I didn’t dwell on those characters’ absences, but rather enjoyed Yelena’s new adventure in a foreign land.

I love the ‘Study’ trilogy. But I’m not sure if it should be marketed solely to a Young Adult audience, since it appeals on so many adult levels. I loved these books, Yelena is one of my all-time favourite kick-ass leading ladies and the Yelena/Valek romance is one of the most heart-warming to read. And the covers are spectacular!

4/5

5 comments:

  1. This series sounds good, I hadn't heard of it before. Where was all this great YA stuff when I was a kid? I like the covers.

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  2. I found Poison Study to be a bit boring and never made it to the second book. Yelena is "kick-ass?" Maybe I should give it another try.

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  3. Im definitely gonna check that out!

    I started reading "surrender of a siren" too lol though since I was on page 2 and the new Jaz book came out today (I had bought it on pre-sale) I had to stop, download the new Jaz and dig into it... I missed Vayl too much :P

    btw, I bought Lady of persuasion already too lol... Ill do SS and LP back to back :)

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  4. Mandi - Yelena is more 'kick-ass' in the 2nd book, trust me :)

    Larissa - YAY! Vayl! I am seriously looking forward to the new Jaz book, but I have to wait for it in the mail. Damn!

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  5. I thought the trilogy just got better & better! Loved it :-)

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