Monday, February 16, 2009

Book Review: The Poison Apples by Lily Archer

Raise your hand if you have an evil stepmother. Alice, Reena and Molly all do. For various reasons, each girl finds herself at a posh boarding school in rural Massachusetts and each tries her best to pretend she doesn’t come from a messed-up, broken family. When they find each other, they discover they no longer have to suffer alone or in silence, and the Poison Apples are born.

Yes, I have a stepmother. Yes, there were times I thought she was evil, especially during the early adjustment period. So I could definitely relate to the Poison Apples.

The book is narrated by all three teens in alternating chapters and divided roughly into three sections: the introduction of the characters and their stepmothers, arrival at boarding school, and the revenge plot over Thanksgiving break.

I loved the first section and Alice’s situation was pretty familiar. Her mother died of cancer and then she spent a couple of years moping around with her father. When her father meets someone new, she sincerely wants him to be happy. But when they announce they are getting married, Alice is shell-shocked. Stepmother-to-be R. convinces Alice’s father to sell his house and move into their own place – and Alice isn’t welcome. Instead, her father breaks the news that she’s to be sent to boarding school:

“Alice,” Dad said suddenly. “You’re not going to live with me and R. It doesn’t make sense.”

I stared into Dad’s eyes. Dad, I tried to silently implore him. I don’t want to freak out right now. I don’t want to give R. another reason to hate me. I don’t want you to think I’m a bad daughter. Just. Please. Don’t. Make. Me. Go.

The weird thing was, I could tell Dad was also trying to tell me something with his eyes. He was silently begging me to be okay with this. To not make him guilty. To not make him feel like he was marrying a psychopath who wanted him to send his daughter away… (p. 17-18)


Reena and Molly’s evil stepmothers come courtesy of divorce: Reena’s story is outrageously hilarious (it involves yoga and a penguin) and Molly’s is unfair and sad (it involves a lot of unpaid babysitting and a mental institution).

The boarding school section is peppered with fun wicked stepmother anecdotes and appearances but drags a bit when it veers off to explore other topics such as Reena’s crush on the English teacher.

And the end. Well, the end may surprise you! I highly recommend this book to anyone who has a stepmother or is a stepmother. Or anyone who just likes reading about stepmothers for that matter.

The Poison Apples is now available in paperback.

Fun Fact: The UK cover (the black one) was the first one I saw, and it made me really want the book. Which cover do you like better?

22 comments:

Janssen said...

Ooh, this sounds so fun! Thanks for the recommendation!

Thao said...

This sounds absolutely nice, though the excerpt makes me a little sad.

Isn't the UK cover much better than the original one? It reminds me of Fairy Tales : )

H said...

oh, I've heard of this. It looks really good, I love the UK cover.

Liviania said...

I love both covers.

This sounds really cool - I liked the passage you quoted.

Shooting Stars Mag said...

Sounds interesting and I like the UK one. I always seem to the UK ones...lol

-lauren

Alea said...

Oh my gosh I had never heard of it. I love that first cover, so it looks like I'm disagreeing! So cute, I need to find a bigger image so i can see the details! This book is totally going on my wishlist!

Marta said...

oooh I really like the black cover...would have grabbed my attention too!

Marta's Meanderings

Mishel said...

The UK cover is really cool looking. Sounds like a fun book (=

Anonymous said...

I have an evil actin mother who many people think is a stepmother.

There are some evil foster parents in 'Rowan of the Wood', too.. have you read it?

Nymeth said...

I definitely prefer the UK cover. The book sounds good!

the epic rat said...

I prefer the UK cover; the US one almost makes it look like a really old book.

I'm glad you finally got around to reading it and posted a review! I'll have to check it out, especially if there are penguins involved!

cecilia

Bookworm said...

I read this a year or two ago and really, really liked it! I loved when Reena attempted to steal her stepmother's penguin. (: LOL

Lenore said...

The penguin scenes are great! Absurd but really funny.

Shalonda said...

I hadn't heard of this, but am looking out for it now!

I prefer the UK cover. It's awesome. Not so sure that I like the US cover.

Linda J said...

I definitely like the black cover better. Sounds like this is another one I'd like to read, even though I don't have a stepmother, evil or otherwise!

Reader Rabbit said...

The black cover, for sure.
:)

And the book sounds interesting. I want!

Staci said...

Excellent review..I need to read this now! and I love the black cover!

Ladytink_534 said...

I like the UK cover a lot more. No evil step-mother to my knowledge!

girl jordyn said...

You know, covers like the first one - all cartoonish looking? Usually make me think of manga or fantasy, which makes me not want to read the book. I'm glad to read this review though! I've seen The Poison Apples in stores and just always wrote it off. Now I might actually pick it up and think about reading it!

Christina Farley said...

Sounds interesting. I love twists on fairytales.

Joanne said...

I definately like the UK (black) cover better, and for some reason I adore the fact that the apple is green rather than red.

When I was in elementary school (grade 6 I think it was) I was the only kid in a class of 24 who lived with married birth parents. So I was fascinated by step-parents, and this book immediately made me think of that ... this book also sounds really fun. Thanks for the cool review!

Anonymous said...

I am reading this book now and it is so amazing, though.it is meant for 6th graders, it mention sex.