Irony rules.

“It’s not even ironic. Poison Rules.” (p.13)

Maria is crusty, callous, and confusing. Her personality is a fruit salad, if the fruit salad were made of pills and eyeliner and coffee beans drenched in sadness. And if the fruit salad were on an island, alone, in the middle of the ocean. Probably. Both Maria and the Narrator define her as kind of asshole-ish and shut off from other people. But as we, the reader become more familiar with Maria, we start to notice that she actually feels quite a lot. And she feels it deeply. Ironic, huh?

You know what else is ironic? Steph and Kieran’s little stunt. That’s not verbal irony like Maria and the Narrator’s misdiagnoses of her personality. This is both situational and dramatic irony. Now, as types of irony might not be on the forefront of your mind at all times, and since everything reminds Maria of high school, let’s take it back to high school and have a little lesson on irony.

Verbal irony: the use of words to mean something different from what a person actually says.

Dramatic irony: when the audience is aware of something that the characters in the story are not aware of.

Situational irony: when the exact opposite of what is meant to happen, happens.


I think that irony is in Maria’s nature, and the narrator definitely has a somewhat dry sense of humour. This novel is riddled with apparent sarcasm, but what if it’s not all genuine? What if Maria is actually as sensitive as the callousness of her exterior leads you to believe? Sure, she says “heroin rules” like she would do a line every week if she could, but she also writes in her journal “Piranha is on heroin” like she is actually extremely concerned for her friend’s physical and emotional well being. Maria is locked up inside her head, and perhaps verbal irony is one of the tools she uses to protect herself and further distance herself from making genuine human connections.


What role does irony play in this book for you as a reader? How does it affect your interpretation of the narrative and your judgement of Maria as a character?

Does the voice of the narrator increase your understanding of Maria’s callousness, and do you think that she is a sensitive person underneath it all, or is the shell actually solid?


2 thoughts on “Irony rules.

  1. I think the insight we get into Maria’s head from the narrator’s point of view versus her own words shows us that she’s actually very sensitive. She may act like she doesn’t care about something, but when it gets down to it we see her spend pages monologuing about it inside her head. For example, she outwardly acts like she doesn’t care about Steph and Kieran, but we see that she just deals with her emotions in a different way (riding around NY on a bike for hours?). Her callous exterior instead just seems like a carryover from a time where she had to act like she didn’t care to protect herself—I think she even mentions this herself later on in the novel. But a lot of what this irony did for me as a reader is ground Maria as a relatable person. Most people I know use irony like this on a day to day basis, maybe not as extreme, but I’ve definitely met at least one person with as much snark as Maria.


  2. I think irony plays a lot with humor to really characterize Maria like you said and I also think it really makes her relatable. But with relatability, it begs the question as to who Imogen Binnie is making Maria relatable for. Is she supposed to be relatable to a broad audience that includes cis identities or mainly trans identities? I definitely relate to her and I’m cisgendered. This also leads to questions as to what kind of audience the book was written for.


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