Poison Princess - Kresley Cole 4.5 stars. Fantastic first book in what looks to be a thrilling new series. Note for those who seek romance - I'd consider this more an urban fantasy type of story than a true paranormal romance. There is a cliffhanger ending that diehard romance seekers may balk at.

I love Kresley Cole's IAD series. Like...<3 it and want to wrap it up in bows and giggle about it into my pillowcase at night. So even though I'm not usually on board with YA books, I took the plunge with this one, putting my trust into the author. Boy oh boy was the story worth it!<br/>
The story, in brief.
The book follows our heroine, sixteen-year-old Evangeline "Evie" Greene, from her days as a pampered popular rich kid in Louisiana to her transition into a player - however unwillingly and unwittingly - in a battle of good or evil that is fought out on a post-apocalyptic Earth. Nothing is what it used to be, and she has to learn to survive this new reality as she learns about her powers and encounters the other players in this game of life-and-death. Along for the ride is her classmate Jackson Deveaux, a Cajun from the wrong side of the tracks.

The world.
As can only be expected with Kresley Cole, she builds a fabulously rich world, and I fell straight into it, turning page after page as I yearned to learn more and more. The players in the war of good and evil are based on the Tarot cards, and their powers stem from the different cards' traits. The post-apocalyptic setting is stark and, at times, terrifying.

The characters.
I usually wouldn't like spending hours in the head of a teenaged girl (let's face it - we all lived through our teen years and few of us would want to repeat it, I'm guessing), but Evie was a great narrator. I didn't think her introspection was annoying or repetitive; it seemed very revealing of her character. She was mature for her age, and her struggles to come to terms with the new state of the world felt earnest and real. It was really cool to learn about her powers at the same time she was.

Jackson was quite an enigma, but oh my...what a heartbreaker! I loved him and his Cajun, bad boy ways. To be honest, these two main characters - with their opposites attract personalities (her sheltered life pre-apocalypse and his rough-and-tumble lifestyle) and their road trip through the South reminded me of Holly and Cade in the IAD book Dark Desires After Dusk, which I guess is a good thing because that's one of my favorites from the IAD series.

The secondary characters and the post-apocalyptic baddies we encounter are well drawn and interesting, too. I look forward to reading more about Matthew, Finn, and Selena (I guess...) in future installments.

The romance.
So this was the big question for me. The IAD books are gratifyingly pervy, so I wondered what KC would do with a YA novel.

Fill it with loads of smokin' hot tension, that's what.

I needn't have worried because the emotions...they were there. However, I wouldn't necessarily call this story a romance because the ending was a little unfulfilling in that sense.

Overall, I really really enjoyed this book, and I love this new world that Kresley Cole introduced. The romance lover in me wanted a bigger, punchier ending rather than the cliffhanger-ish one we got, but really...wonderful story. I'm eagerly looking forward to the next book and can't wait to see what happens.