Author: Meg Cabot
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary/Urban Fantasy, Retellings, Paranormal
Publication Date: April 2011
Hardcover: 320 Pages
She didn’t fall into his world. She was taken.
Seventeen-year-old Pierce knows what happens to us when we die.
That’s how she met John Hayden, the mysterious stranger who’s made returning to normal life—or at least life as Pierce knew it before the accident—next to impossible.
Though she thought she escaped him—starting a new school in a whole new place—it turns out she was wrong. He finds her.
What does John want from her? Pierce thinks she knows… just like she knows he’s no guardian angel, and his dark world isn’t exactly heaven. But she can’t stay away from him, either, especially since he’s always there when she least expects it, but exactly when she needs him most.
But if she lets herself fall any further, she might find herself back in the place she fears the most.
And when Pierce discovers the shocking truth, that’s exactly where John sweeps her:
Stand alone or series: Book 1 in the Abandon/Myth of Persephone Trilogy
How did I get this book: ARC from the Publisher
Why did I read this book: Confession time! I have never read a Meg Cabot book before. *GASPS! SHOCK!* I know, I know. I am lame. SO, when I received a copy of Abandon, I knew it was finally time to delve into the works of the lovely Ms. Cabot. I don’t think there would have been a better initiation title, honestly – Greek mythology, a darkly imagined retelling, all set on a tropical island that is something akin to a Hellmouth? Yeah, I was sooo in.
Life is hard once you’ve died.
At least, that’s what Pierce Oliviera has come to accept. When she was fifteen, Pierce had an accident, slipping, hitting her head, and falling into a near-freezing temperature pool. By all rights, Pierce died and should still be dead…but she came back. Though alive, two years after the experience, Pierce is a changed girl. Unable to focus in class, Pierce’s parents, teachers, and doctors say that she’s just suffering the lasting effects of a subdural hematoma and write off what she “saw” in her dead state as a lucid dream – but Pierce knows that what happened to her in death was no dream. She has been to the Underworld and met its keeper – a strange young man named John, who won’t seem to leave Pierce alone. When her parents’ marriage crumbles and Pierce and her mother move to an island off the coast of Florida, Isla Huesos, Pierce is ready to make a fresh start at a new school and to leave her past behind. Somehow, though, the past has a way of stubbornly refusing to let her go. As unspeakable danger mounts, Pierce must find a way to unravel the truth of her mysterious link to John in order to save those she loves and herself from a terrible fate.
Abandon, the first in a new paranormal trilogy from YA author extraordinaire Meg Cabot, is a darker contemporary, loose reimagining of the Persephone/Hades myth, resplendent with a generous dose of mystery and danger, and topped off with a dash of romance. So far as my first experience with Ms. Cabot goes, I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised; while Abandon isn’t the finest contemporary paranormal/UF young adult title I’ve ever read, it’s certainly a well-executed story with plenty of exciting tidbits planted for the next two books in the series.
The first thing to comment on – and it is something I believe that is likely representative of Meg Cabot’s writing – is how eminently readable Abandon is. I finished the novel in a single sitting, fully immersed in the story and excited for the next juicy revelation. Abandon is reminiscent of Stephanie Meyer in this way – and I mean this as a compliment! – in that the story is perhaps not the best-plotted or most well-written of novels, but there’s some ineffable quality that keeps readers fully engaged and turning the pages. Perhaps the key to this readability lies in the perfect alchemy of real-world teenage angst (Pierce struggling to fit in at her new school, with her divorced parents, with her estranged secondary family members) and supernatural delight (e.g. her memories of the underworld and the blending of Greek mythology with an interesting Buffy-esque twist), along with a mystery of sorts, and, of course, the romance angle. Also from a writing perspective, I loved how Ms. Cabot takes her time revealing Pierce’s backstory – what exactly happened at her old school? – using foreshadowing to tantalize readers and then delivering answers gradually over the course of the novel. That said, the overall structure of the book is a little awkward and might be potentially confusing/a turnoff for some readers who would rather cut to the chase.
From a character perspective, things are a little more predictable. Awesome name aside, Pierce is pretty bland and familiar as a heroine, prone to typical do-gooder type activities (i.e. she cares more about the welfare of others than she does herself, blah blah blah, the usual line). John is your typical broody mcbrooder supernatural hawt dude, with his own Troubled Past. That’s not to say these characters are unpleasant or unlikeable – but they’re hardly groundbreaking or well-defined. I was, however, glad to see that older characters play a significant role in this book as Pierce’s mother is a significant presence, and the relationship between Pierce, her mother and the rest of her extended family is an interesting dynamic.
All in all, I was very pleased with Abandon. Although the characters were a bit ho-hum and the first half or so of the book is a little slower paced and oddly structured, when the novel moves into its final act, things really kick up – and certainly left me hungry for the next installment. Recommended, especially for a younger audience.
Notable Quotes/Parts: From Chapter 1:
Through every city shall he hunt her down,
Until he shall have driven her back to Hell,
There from whence envy first did let her loose.
DANTE ALIGHIERI, Inferno, Canto I
Anything can happen in the blink of an eye. Anything at all.
A girl is laughing with her friends.
Suddenly, a crater splits apart the earth. Through it bursts a man in an ink black chariot forged in the deepest pits of hell, drawn by stallions with hooves of steel and eyes of flame.
Before anyone can shout a warning, before the girl can turn and run, those thundering hooves are upon her.
The girl isn’t laughing anymore. Instead, she’s screaming.
It’s too late. The man has leaned out of his ink black chariot to seize her by the waist and pull her back down into that crater with him.
Life as she once knew it will never be the same.
You don’t have to worry about that girl, though. She’s just a character from a book. Her name was Persephone, and her being kidnapped by Hades, the god of the dead, and taken to live with him in the Underworld was how the Greeks explained the changing of the seasons. It’s what’s known as an origin myth.
What happened to me? That’s no myth.
A few days ago, if you’d told me some story about a girl who had to go live with a guy in his underground palace for six months out of the year, I’d just have laughed. You think that girl has problems? I’ll tell you who has problems: me. Way bigger ones than Persephone.
Especially now, after what happened the other night in the cemetery. What really happened, I mean.
The police think they know, of course. So does everyone at school. Everyone on the whole island, it seems, has a theory.
That’s the difference between them and me. They all have theories.
So who cares what happened to Persephone? Compared to what happened to me, that’s nothing.
Persephone was lucky, actually. Because her mom showed up to bail her out.
No one’s coming to rescue me.
So take my advice: whatever you do?
You can read the full excerpts (two chapters!) from Abandon online HERE.
Additional Thoughts: Make sure you stop by and check out our official stop on the Meg Cabot Abandon Blog Tour to read all about Meg’s Inspirations & Influences for Abandon, and for a chance to win the book!
Rating: 6 – Good, and I’ll definitely be around for the next book in the trilogy.
Reading Next: The Swan Maiden by Heather Tomlinson
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