For the twelfth book in the challenge, I read Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder, the first in the Study series. It is also a Vaginal Fantasy group pick. It follows a condemned woman who is given the job of food taster rather than execution, since the person who needs protecting has had several attempts on his life recently and she isn’t expected to live very long.
I gave it three out of five stars, but I’m having trouble evaluating exactly how I felt after this book. There are the standard threats to the heroine’s safety, and the fact that no one really knows the truth behind her conviction (because they wouldn’t believe her), and the standard hints about how she’s actually special except not the kind of special she was supposed to be and therefore a disappointment, etc. Several different tropes run rampant through the book, which is fine if a little predictable. I suppose it was a nice change that the story was not yet another one about insta-love and finding completion in the arms of another person, and in fact there is very little romance at all.
I’m wondering if the world felt a little off to me, and that kept me off-kilter throughout? It’s a fantasy world, with hints of magic and other races, but I never could figure out if it was low-tech or so high-tech that the tech might as well have been magic, or if parts of the world were savage and parts were screwing around with flight and combustion engines and napalm, and those other “races” were really just people with different skin and exotic mysticism? I think I’d have to read it again and specifically pay attention to what’s going on the background, or perhaps read further into the series.
At any rate, the heroine wasn’t annoying, just broken. She didn’t really jump out as a striking character either, and a lot of things simply happened to her rather than her affecting her circumstances, which is really common for female characters. Some of the secondary characters were decently 3D, but most of the rest were plot points.
In conclusion, the book is standard for the genre, but not bad.