Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Poison Ink by Christopher Golden

Poison Ink by Christopher Golden
Review by Shelly Burns (Write for a Reader)

High School is a difficult time for many teens - peer pressure, fitting in, friends, first loves, and all that goes with being a teenager. For the girls in Poison Ink, it’s all of that…the whole high school experience. What do you do when you just don’t fit in? Sammi, T.Q., Caryn, Letty, and Katsuko knew all too well. When you are the loner, you hang with the other loners. None of these girls fit in with any of the other groups at Covington High, so they fit in with each other. They want a symbol of their bond, their friendship; what’s better than a tattoo? That’s exactly what they set out to do one night. They won’t get just any tattoo; they want one that will symbolize their friendship. They decide to go to an out of the way shop - one that won’t ask for parental permission for underage girls who want tattoos. All of the girls except for one, Sammi, go through with the tattoo. What would her parents say? The girls are furious, but before the night’s over, Sammi decides that she will return the next day, by herself to get the tattoo. Does she get it, or is it just airbrushed to appease the other girls?

Now she’s an outcast again, and her best friends turn into strangers. They are doing things they never would have done before: smoking, skipping school, fighting, taunting. During one of their brawls, Sammi tries to get in the middle and break it up only to have them turn and attack her. What does she spy on her friend’s back during the fight? The original tattoo has taken on a new form; it’s grown tendrils and it’s going over the girl’s body. What did the tattoo artist do to her friends and how can she stop it? Will Sammi be able to get her friends back?

My Review
Christopher Golden tells a great story. From the first page to the last, I was hooked! I loved Golden’s characters. The girls were so realistic, the storyline intriguing. You are drawn into the story from the prologue. Funny thing is I figured that the prologue would be an insight into the beginning of the story, but it’s actually taken from the end.

Golden paints such a vivid picture with his words:
“Pieces of her are broken. Every bump or crack in the road jostles her, shooting needles of pain into her skull and back and searing her side where some of her ribs have given away. She breathes through her teeth, and her pain turns into a strange whistling.

A paramedic floats into view above her. With a warm damp cloth, he wipes some of the blood from her face. Twenty-something, skin like mahogany wood, a ridiculously good-looking guy. She feels almost embarrassed to have him looking at her bloody, swollen face.

‘You’re going to be just fine, honey,’ he says.” (taken from the Prologue)

You feel bad for Sammi. She did what any high school girl would do when they know they are out defying their parents. She thought twice about her decision and it cost her the friends she loved.

“The rest of the day Sammi walked the halls of Covington High in a constant state of humiliation…Every glance or whisper troubled her. No matter how she told herself they weren’t talking about her, that a lot of people hadn’t even noticed the way her friends had abandoned her …still she felt exposed.” (p. 89)

When Sammi tries to fix things and the others realize what they had become and how they had acted, you almost feel sorry for them.

“Sammi’s heart broke for her, the horror of it coming to her all at once. What must it have been like to be a passenger in her own body, able to see out through her own eyes, aware of the things that her puppeteer had done to her body?” (p. 252)

Sammi is written as such a strong character, but there are times when I wished she would just “get over herself!” She is smart though. She figures things out and does her best to try to fix what she had a part in creating. She wanted the tattoo and pushed for them all to get them, but not so it would break up their friendship.

I just loved how real the story was. I could see a group of high school girls doing the things these girls do: plotting about getting tattoos behind their parents’ backs, fighting in school, etc. For this reason, I wouldn’t recommend this book for younger than high school students because of some of the actions that the girls take: drug use and foul language, for example. I think that high school students and young adults will enjoy this book. It was an easy and enjoyable read.

What Other Bloggers Are Saying:

Guys Lit Wire (reviewed by Book Chic): "I was seriously on the edge of my seat during the entire second half and couldn't stop reading until I got to the end. " (read more...)

Little Willow: "Poison Ink is one of my favorite books of 2008. I put this book into the hands of teens and adults alike. I feel as though I am introducing a new generation to Golden's works, and that feels great." (read more...)

Mrs. Magoo Reads: "Although there were a few brief disturbing parts (if you get queasy easily you'll probably just want to skip over a few paragraphs), I fully enjoyed the novel, and I really do hope it's made into a movie!"(read more...)

More Info:
  • Reading level: Young Adult
  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers (July 8, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385734832
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385734837
  • Source: Review copy from publisher


  1. Thanks so much for the mention!! I love that you picked the part of my review that praised it rather than the part that was negative, lol.

    Anyway, great review! So glad you enjoyed the book!

  2. I'm glad that you liked Poison Ink! I agree that he creates strong characters and detailed events.

    Have you read any of his other novels? If not, DO. Soulless just came out this month, and that too is a horror YA novel.

  3. Hey,
    I respect your work very much. Well worded talent goes far in the journalism career. Keep up the good work, so far I've clearly understood and followed up with your writings and I just want to throw some kudos at you, very good to hear people putting their mind to words the clear way :)
    Anyways, until the next time I run across your page, c ya' ciao!