Published April 12, 2016
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ARC via Netgalley
Rating 2.5 Stars
Everyone knows the legends about the cursed girl–Isabel, the one the señoras whisper about. They say she has green skin and grass for hair, and she feeds on the poisonous plants that fill her family’s Caribbean island garden. Some say she can grant wishes; some say her touch can kill.
Seventeen-year-old Lucas lives on the mainland most of the year but spends summers with his hotel-developer father in Puerto Rico. He’s grown up hearing stories about the cursed girl, and he wants to believe in Isabel and her magic. When letters from Isabel begin mysteriously appearing in his room the same day his new girlfriend disappears, Lucas turns to Isabel for answers–and finds himself lured into her strange and enchanted world. But time is running out for the girl filled with poison, and the more entangled Lucas becomes with Isabel, the less certain he is of escaping with his own life.
Here’s the thing about books I find beautiful because of the nods to the culture, along with it’s beliefs and superstitions: I’m half in love, half out of love. A Fierce and Subtle Poison was set in the lush green traditional Caribbean coast, and it tangles with the up-and-coming city with it’s rising hotels and hospitality industry. Creating is a give and a take. Things come at a cost. Sometimes it’s the destruction of a vibrant culture. Other times it’s the birth of a girl with poison coursing in her veins. Neither ‘take’ is particularly appealing. This is what A Fierce and Subtle Poison is about: just how much are you willing to give up, and does the end justify the means?
All that being said, as much as the culture and superstitions and beliefs interest me, I was bored to death. I believe this was supposed to be a tale of self-discovery, self-sacrifice, the greater good, heroes and monster, how some monsters aren’t the ones you’d think they’d be. How sometimes the greatest evil is greed.
Y’all, Lucas is incredibly boring. I understand that he’s a teenager (maybe I’m just super ambitious) and all, but have some curiosity that stems from something other than what’s under a girl’s dress. Sex is great, but how about we think about the rest of our lives, and consider that maybe daddy won’t fund our adventures forever. Lucas is the one fleshed out character. The others? Not so much. Marisol, Isabel, Dr. Ford, even his dad, they’re just outlines. I want to know more. I think that Isabel, who is supposedly Lucas’s star-crossed lover, could have been a glorious, fierce, savage, graceful character. I don’t even know what to describe her as. She said something like she didn’t even know Lucas (he was coming onto her, I think, or asking her personal questions).
I didn’t know any of them either. That sentence was the most relatable out of the entire novel.
The plot didn’t really pick up until the last chapter of the book. The last paragraph is my favorite part of the entire book. From other reviews I’ve read of this book, there has been some dispute over the ending. I liked it, but you should find out for yourself.
So here are my three wishes: I wish I got to know the setting more. I wish I got to know the people more. I wish I got to know the plot more.
While this book wasn’t bad, it wasn’t really good either. It was fine.