Poison by Lan Chan is part dystopian, part fantasy, part sci-fi, and all parts engrossing. The characters are likeable, the plot believable, and the world itself well rendered. It was such a nice change of pace from what I'd been reading, and I found myself slowing down as the end drew near because I knew that I'd want book 2 immediately.
In the story, scientists (aka Seeders) rule the land by withholding any viable seeds. They control everything from a place called the Citadel, where the wealthy live the good, plentiful life while everyone else exists on the meager scraps the government provides for each region. If anyone is caught with seeds in their possession, the consequences are dire. I found this plot entirely believable. The talk of genetically engineered seeds and the vibrant descriptions of plant life that could be just as deadly as it was beautiful was an added bonus.
My favorite part of the book was the characters. 16-year-old Rory was my kind of heroine. She was brave, loyal, and knew how to carry a grudge.
After her mother was killed by Seeders (as she watched), Rory never lets go of her need for vengeance. When her stepbrother, Micah, is taken by Seeders, she doesn't give up on finding him. When she is betrayed and returns to the Citadel to find the one boy she thought she loved has become a Seeder, she doesn't fall back into his arms.
Rory was tough as nails. Her POV was filled with a need for vengeance--which I personally loved reading. And seriously, can you blame her? But Rory also had something that made well-rounded and more human and that was her loyalty and love for several characters in the book.
I loved Sully the most. She is Rory's pet sabrewolf in the book, and I developed an attachment to her from her very first mention. Throughout the book, Sully matches Rory for loyalty and bravery, and I couldn't imagine a better pet/companion/friend.
Other favorites were Micah, Rory's engineering genius of a stepbrother, Aiden, Gage and Yuri.
Without giving too much away, I will also say that I loved the scene at the circus. We get to see the circus as it actually is: a place where the darlings of the Citadel are pitted against one another in a deadly game for the audience's enjoyment.
I also loved what happened at the Citadel dinner when one of the rich girls asks if she can "borrow" Gage. Rory's reaction is perfection!
In the end, I was left wanting more (in the best way :)). I need book 2!! I was sad because Lan Chan is definitely not afraid to kill her characters--though I'm hoping for a reprieve because if the scientists can save Rory after falling off a high tight rope, surely they can save others, right??? Aiden, the boy who may or may not have betrayed Rory all those years ago, is still a mystery. (Although, between you and me, I think he's actually one of the good guys.) And I need to know what happened to Micah.
So basically, I'm waiting for book 2 of the Wind Dancer series and hoping my favorites will make it through to the end!