Book Review: A Fierce and Subtle Poison by Samantha Mabry

Algonquin Young Readers To Be Published April 12, 2016 288 Pages
Algonquin Young Readers
Published April 12, 2016
288 Pages

17 year old Lucas lives mainland but stays with his Father, hotel developer, in Puerto Rico in the summer.  So the stories about the cursed girl, Isabel, is nothing new to him. For years, Señoras have spoken about the girl with the green skin that eats poison to stay alive and can kill you with one touch. Children send letters asking her to grant them wishes. Nothing but childish play.

But when he begins receiving messages with his wishes crossed out and the girl he is interested in disappears, he finds Isabel and unlocks dangerous secrets that can destroy the life he has always known.

I love the cover. It is bright and captivating; truly perfect for this story. But despite the beauty of the cover I didn’t like the book.

To sum up the story, “white boy plays hero after his “girlfriend” is found murdered.” The thing is normally I wouldn’t have too much issues with this simple summary but the book was filled with stereotypes that even the author called out in the book.

Lucas’s father is white and his mother is Puerto Rican. He gets some side eyed stares but for the most part he is in a good place. The stereotypes begin with the description of the  Puerto Rican women and young girls. Without getting into much detail, Lucas’s father isn’t too happy with the fact that he had a child with a Puerto Rican, which states that the woman are okay for one thing if you do not get into close.

Lucas tries to be different but he is the same; being with various girls using his Dad’s car whenever he wants, stealing alcohol . . .typical. Lucas wasn’t an interesting character in the least. There is a bit more disturbing incidents within this story but that would be too look to write.

None of the characters were extremely fulfilling. Isabel had some depth to her but it fell short, rather quickly. I also didn’t appreciate the lack of creative transitions within the story. Every time a new character was to begin or something is to happen, Lucas falls a sleep -_- Really? A good eight hours of nothing passes because Lucas either becomes dead tired or he is knocked out. I thought it was an amateur move.

Also his “girlfriend” was but into the back burner TWICE (I just wanted to put that out there).

I know that I am displaying a lot of negative points in this book but there was some good to it. Mabry can write. Although the story was quick and had some issues, I couldn’t put it down. Maybe it was a mix of the story eluding something amazing was going to happen or maybe because the author created a not as complicated story as one would think from reading the story (backhand compliment, I know. Sorry.) I did appreciate the lack of romantic focus. Even though the whole point of Lucas getting involved was because of his “girlfriend.”

Overall the story was okay. Characters could have been way better. There could have been more suspense as well as history. I mean come on the setting is Puerto Rico. The story was a good idea but failed attempt.

1 Pickle


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