Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Done with Poison

This cover shows the long nose bridge
just as described in the book.
I finished Poison by Chris Wooding.

The story is about a girl named Poison who feels alienated in her town even within her family, which now includes a new mother. Her baby sister, Azalea, is one of only two people that Poison is comfortable around. Therefore, when Azalea is kidnapped by the Phaerie Lord, Poison musters courage to leave her home and find Azalea. The result is an enlightening adventure that changes her perspective of the world and her life.

Once I finished the story, I felt satisfaction and uplifted because Poison found her place. =)

WARNING: There are big spoilers towards the end of this post. I will warn you again right before that part.

Throughout the book, the narrator sets up questions for the reader such as:
  • Why was Posion's sister taken away?
  • What is the significance of the spider Lady's dagger and does it wield a power?
  • Who is the Hypotroth?
  • How will Poison's story end?
Each answer carries weight in the story.

There were some elements that I have seen before, which happens more as you read more, but the experience did not feel repeated. Now that I think about it, Wooding may have used classic Fantasy elements on purpose. After all, Poison noticed how fairy tales strongly related to her adventure and for a reason!

I agree, Ron.
One of those elements was a giant spider like in
The Incredible Shrinking Man 
(Sci-fi not Fantasy), The Lord of the Rings, and Harry Potter. Outsmarting the spider was still suspenseful with some fun. Poison dreaded the Lady of the spider realm more than the spiders. My only repeated experience was that I was grossed out by a giant spider.

When Poison researches the scarecrow, I remembered Pennywise (from Stephen King's IT) in an album. I reread that particular scene for thrills, but by the next two chapters I forgot the scene. Wooding wisely reminds the reader of it during the scarecrow's reappearance.

As I said before, Katniss' attitude in The Hunger Games reminded of Poison, especially when describing their homes. I felt that Poison was for a younger age range than The Hunger Games until the story took a meta twist. =) Middle schoolers will be spellbound by the concept of meta-fiction and even adults will find it intriguing. As a quick definition, metafiction is a story within a story. A new definition I heard is fiction on the process of fiction because it is a story that covers storywriting. I won't say more. Wooding explained it for you in the story.

One problem I had with the book was that some lines sounded too fantastical. I had to reread them to grasp the action and meaning plus those lines were not necessary. When Poison traveled to new places, I ignored these fantastical lines after the first attempt. Sometimes a writer feels pressured to have clever lines, but the words need to flow with the rest. Otherwise readers lose their trance. Newsweek writer Elmore Leonard has stated, "If it sounds like writing I rewrite it."

The rest of this post mentions big spoilers because the scene discussed is close to the story's end. I will not list all details though.

The day after I finished reading Poison, I remembered a scene that struck me as odd for a hero, especially for young audiences. Throughout Poison's journey, she bluffs and taunts threats. With Aelthar, she tried to tone down her attitude, realizing that it can hurt her chances. But when she was stabbed, Poison did not watch her attitude. Had she not learned? Her life was threatened the most at this moment.  Even if she had felt almighty about her new role, Poison should know that her life was still at risk. She saw what happened to Melcheron.

I questioned if Poison should be considered suicidal at this point because she provoked her stabber to strike again, "'Finish it. The last laugh will be mine.'" I understood she was helpless in this moment and hurt badly, but shouldn't she at least want to live now? She had wanted to die before, but her role is different from that point.

I did enjoy the adventure though. And after the last line, I turned the page to a blank one and felt as if I had just experienced magic because the story actually ended at that line. Haha.

What did you think of Poison? How about that odd moment I mentioned?

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