SUMMARY: Seventeen-year old Marinda and her little brother Mani are prisoners. Marinda is a visha kanya, a girl with the power to kill with her kiss. To most people visha kanya are the stuff of legends, so no one suspects Marinda when she carries out the raja’s orders to kill enemies of the state. Marinda believes the people the raja wants dead must be terrible people, until the day she is ordered to kill Deven, a boy she knows only for his kindness.
WHAT I LIKED: Lots of mystery about people’s motivations. Marinda worries about who she can and cannot trust throughout the story. It’s well-done, and I liked how the characters are complex enough that the reader doesn’t always know who Marinda can trust.
There are a few surprises. Particularly involving Deven, Mani, and Iyla, Marinda’s partner-in-crime who helps her set up the murders.
It’s short and fast-paced. The story moves quickly, and I was sucked into the action right from the first page. It’s also relatively clean (see content notes below). Poison’s Kiss would make a great middle school alternative to Throne of Glass and Grave Mercy, both of which get pretty racy as the series goes on.
WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE: I chose this story because it is based on Indian folklore, but I wish it had more Indian folklore weaved into the story. I also wish we knew more about the original visha kanya legends.
I’m not sure I’ll remember this story in a few weeks. It is a fun read, but there’s nothing unique about it. Nothing makes it more remarkable than other female assassin YA like Throne of Glass, Grave Mercy, or Graceling. The female assassin storyline has been done–and better–already.
Deven is boring. And though it’s not quite insta-love, the L-word is tossed around a bit too quickly for my taste.
THEMES: trust, family, good versus evil
THE BOTTOM LINE: Poison’s Kiss is a fun distraction from real life, but I doubt I will remember this one in a few weeks. Read it if you are craving a new female assassin book and you’ve already read Graceling, Throne of Glass, and Grave Mercy.
STATUS IN MY LIBRARY: I’ve already ordered it, and I will booktalk Poison’s Kiss in my library. My students love female assassin stories, and that front cover will easily entice my girls to check this one out.
- Overall: 4/5
- Creativity: 3/5
- Characters: 4/5
- Engrossing: 4/5
- Writing: 3/5
- Appeal to teens: 5/5
- Appropriate length to tell the story: 5/5
- Language: none
- Sexuality: very mild; attraction, hand-holding, chaste kissing
- Violence: medium–Marinda is a reluctant killer; human sacrifices
- Drugs/Alcohol: mild–addiction to snake venom