The Poison Apples - Lily Archer

We all know the stories of Cinderella, Snow White, and Rapunzel.  But have you ever heard of Alice Bingley-Beckerman, Reena Paruchuri, or Molly Miller?  Of course you haven’t.  Not yet.  What these girls have in common with their fairy tale sisters is this:  they are the stepdaughters of three very evil stepmothers.  And they’re not happy about it.  They think they are alone in their unhappiness until they arrive at Putnam Mount McKinsey, a posh boarding school located in lovely rural Massachusetts.  Here is where they will plot their revenge.  But first they have to meet.

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This was a mildly cute story, loosely inspired by classic fairytales, about a group of teenage girls who all meet at a boarding school -- it seems like they were sent to this school because the parents thought it would "make things easier" for everyone -- and bond over sharing their "evil stepmother" stories. All their fathers have remarried, mostly to women that the girls point out are barely older than them. Some of the biological mothers have been lost through death, others through divorce after the fathers have their mid-life crises. The girls decide to form a group/club called The Poison Apples, where they hash out ideas on how to take down these evil stepmothers.

 

This book had its cute points but the plot wasn't all that. The stepmothers, as a whole, didn't seem THAT evil, though there were a few moments here and there of catty remarks & manipulation from the stepmothers to the stepdaughters that made me think okay, that was a little mean. The "take down" plotting element actually doesn't play a huge part in the story, it's mostly about the girls just building their friendships with each other.

 

A couple parts of the story got just a hint darker than I was expecting (for example, one parent checks themself into a mental hospital, which understandably really affects the child; also, fifteen-sixteen year olds bemoaning the fact that they don't have more sexual experience weirded me out a bit) but for the most part the tone is in that light, fast-paced, almost hyper voice that you find in many YA books. Personally, if I read too many books in that style in one stretch it drives me batty but I'm guessing it'll appeal to young teens or tweens. I did like that the storyline brings up important topics for today's world such as cultural diversity, effects of divorce on children, and how to successfully blend families after parents remarry. Also, there's the important message of revenge not always being as satisfying as you'd think.