Poison Ink by Christopher Golden had a great concept to start: A group of girls plan to get a tattoo to bond them in friendship, but all goes wrong; hence the title. It intrigued me. I liked the idea of something that we do to ourselves warping us into people we aren't, and for a while, I really liked the story... until the end.
What started out as a fascinating look into the definition of friendship ended in a twisted gore-fest. Now, please don't get me wrong. I have no problem with gore or twisted stories in books. Usually that makes for a more interesting story. This even had a little bit of magic in it, which, though I don't look for it, if it shows up doesn't scare me off or anything. But this went from a story that could have taught a lesson on the true meaning of friendship and what it means to stand by your friends to, well, like I said before and for lack of another description, a gore-fest.
Maybe my problem is that I believe that every book, no matter what the subject, should have some redeeming value in a lesson it teaches. This can come through things that the characters do or don't do and the consequences that come from those decisions or actions. Books should make us think twice about ourselves as people, as friends, as daughters/sons, as mothers/fathers as girlfriends/boyfriends and wives/husbands. If a book in some way doesn't make you question your motives or actions, then in my option it doesn't do it's job.
That's not to say, of course, that a book can't be written for entertainment purposes only. Many are, but still those books can still have something more to give than a basic story. Take a few examples: Green Eggs and Ham-- Lesson: Try something new; you may like it. Circue du Freak 1-- Lesson: Don't steal, don't judge people by the way they look, things may not be what they seem on the surface. Wake--Lesson: Our dreams can often hide our deepest fears or our greatest desires. Do you see where I'm going with this?
No matter what the story, there is always something lying "Between the lines." :) In my own opinion, Poison Ink falls short of this necessary goal.