Whitley Birks's Reviews > Poison Study

Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder
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This book had a lot of problems. And I mean a lot of problems. The pacing was weird, the protagonist was bland or unlikable, depending on the situation, and the romance between her and a man who repeatedly lied to her and abused her was downright creepy. Granted, I did like the male lead, and I understood his actions. I think a romance could have been possible, of only Snyder didn't decide to shortcut through all their problems and just go "yup, they're totally banging now."

But the thing that bothered me the most was the world-building. Or the lack there-of. The world of Ixia seems to be a pseudo-forced-communist regime, with everyone pigeon-holed into their jobs, draconian rules, and a command-based economy. However...the whole thing works. There's quite a bit of time spent with characters talking about how evil the system is how it needs to be toppled, but outside of one very brief example with a farmer, it all works. The economy is (illogically) running fine, everyone is eating well, there's no signs of famine or strife or undue corruption or abuse. It's a functional government that is evil...um, because Snyder said so. I got the very strong impression while reading this that she had no idea why the USSR failed, so she just slapped some rhetoric on her half-assed world and called it a day. I was torn between thinking "Why are they trying to topple this place? It's functioning fine," and "Why is it functioning fine? COMMAND ECONOMIES DO NOT WORK THAT WAY."

Also, we have no idea throughout this book what kind of world it's in. It seems to shift repeatedly between being pseudo-Medieval like so many other fantasy books, Industrial Revolution era, and then back again, with no one even trying to make sense out of it. I couldn't even begin to get into the plot or the characters when I had no idea where or when I was.
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