Magic Study

It’s hard for me to review sequels without giving away the entire plot-line, but I loved Poison Studyso much and I had such high expectations for this book that I feel I owe it to myself and my followers (all 14 of you) to explain  why it only gets 3 stars. I’ll try my best to avoid spoilers.

Magic Study by Maria V. Snyder StarStarStar

Magic Study picks up exactly where Poison Studyleft off. Yelena and her band of magicians, having saved the day in Ixia, are now headed into Sitia where Yelena will reunite with her family before continuing on to the Academy where the head magicians will train her in the art of magic (I like to think it’s a Hogwarts sister-school). Unfortunately there are still a few people that want Yelena dead (her brother, an angry Ixian rebel, the First Magician, and an evil, power-stealing rogue magician… to name a few). Luckily, Yelena has become an unstoppable ass-kicking machine who is perfectly capable of taking care of herself and everyone around her. Not bad for teenage girl who is often described as short and scrawny.

Everything that I loved about Yelena in Poison Study – her selflessness, her eagerness to learn and train, her ability to fend for herself – is amplified in Magic Study… but not in a good way. Frankly, I’m not sure how this girl is still functioning. She gets beaten within inches of her life multiple times, she is constantly fighting life-threatening exhaustion, she’s tortured and kidnapped and chained up every time she leaves her room… and she flat out refuses help from anyone. I’m not sure there’s a single page in the entire book that describes Yelena as feeling good and not within the short reach of death. She’s a headstrong teenage girl who could probably use a good time-out and some strict parental guidance.

Of course she manages to get herself out of every situation she finds herself in and saves the day several times over without any help from anyone… and I’m just not buying it. At one point she finds herself manacled and chained to the ceiling in a barn somewhere while her captor ponders over which torture device to use first. She manages to call for help telepathically (a new trick she’s picked up along the way) but when the rescue party arrives she tells them she’s got everything under control and they wait for her in a nearby field. Here she is, hanging from the ceiling, bleeding, trapped, about to be tortured,  and they’re not going to do anything about that? Yeah, right. But then she does escape and they clap her on the back and give her a high-five and do some chest bumps, and she spouts off some sarcastic remarks, and her arrogance is so annoying that I almost wish she did get tortured a little bit before she Houdini’d herself out of there.

She blatantly defies her teachers, her parents, her boyfriend and her friends to throw herself into life-threatening situations where she will most likely get killed and therefore supply the rogue magician with the final power source he needs to take over Sitia… but she does it anyway. And she doesn’t even leave a note.

Yelena is no longer a realistic person or a likeable character… I probably wouldn’t want to be her friend, but the plot was well written and put-together. All the things I liked about Poison Study – the adventure, the mystery, the revelations, the unexpected friendships – are present in Magic Study as well. I enjoy this series and I will without a doubt read the final installment, but I almost wish Poison Study was written as a standalone book.

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