Sunday, January 20, 2013

Book Review: Abandon by Meg Cabot

Title:  Abandon
Author:  Meg Cabot
Genre:  YA mythology retelling
Pages:  304

Rating:  B-

Synopsis from  Though she tries returning to the life she knew before the accident, Pierce can't help but feel at once a part of this world, and apart from it. Yet she's never alone . . . because someone is always watching her. Escape from the realm of the dead is impossible when someone there wants you back.  But now she's moved to a new town. Maybe at her new school, she can start fresh. Maybe she can stop feeling so afraid. 
Only she can't. Because even here, he finds her. That's how desperately he wants her back. She knows he's no guardian angel, and his dark world isn't exactly heaven, yet she can't stay away . . . especially since he always appears when she least expects it, but exactly when she needs him most.  But if she lets herself fall any further, she may just find herself back in the one place she most fears: the Underworld.

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I'm seriously torn about this book.  I love the Persephone/Hades story, and usually the retellings are good too.  But this one was so up & down, I'm not sure how I feel.  I mean, I was really nervous about Abandon simply because Cabot is not my favorite author (I hate The Princess Diaries), but I decided to give it a try anyway.

Here's what I liked:
  • A different take on the Hades/Persephone retelling -  Pierce dies and ends up in the Underworld, instead of being kidnapped.  When she gets there, she meets John Hayden (the Hades of this story), who offers her a place at his side.  She's only fifteen so she understandably freaks out and makes a run for it.  She's able to escape and make it back to land of the living, but now John won't leave her alone.
  • The characters (sometimes) -  I like John Hayden in the very beginning and in the very end.  Pretty much only when he's actually in the Underworld.  Honestly, he really doesn't have a huge part in the book.  Maybe the next one?  And Pierce is a great character when she's acting confident and strong, when she's ready to protect her family.  Of the few secondary characters who get any development, I think I like Uncle Chris the best, even if he's barely in the book.
  • The plot twists -  The book definitely had its share of unexpected plot twists, especially one big one at the end that I didn't see coming.
  • The structure -  I really liked how Pierce told about all of her past experiences (dying, meeting John, waking up again) a little at a time in flashbacks, as the rest of the story happens around her.  It was interesting and different.
What I didn't like:
  • The romance -  One minute Pierce hates John, calling him a jerk (which he kind of deserved) and giving him back the gift he gave her, and then as soon as they kiss, BOOM!  She's in love with him.  There was no build-up to it, no tension, no real romance.  John's apparently been in love with her the whole time (he has a crazy way of showing it), and all it takes is one make-out session for her to fall for him.  I'm really hoping that their relationship gets a little more depth in the next book.
  • Lack of character development -  Pierce obviously gets all the character development, and everyone else is kind of two-dimensional.  Some of them are just painfully flat stereotypes.
  • The characters (sometimes) -  Pierce is great, sometimes, but the rest of the time, she can just be so stupid.  And annoying.  And just so.... I can't even describe it; I just want to slap her.  And based on the way John acts outside of the Underworld, I'm not sure why Pierce would want to fall in love with him.
  • Plot holes -  So many plot holes!  What's the deal with Alex's hatred for the popular kids?  Why does Kayla hate them too?  And then alternatively, there were other parts that were just full of too much information.  The whole segment with Richard explaining death deities felt so long and boring, and was simply there as a lesson in how the Underworld works.
So like I said, I'm torn.  I really wanted to like this book, and there were parts of it that I did enjoy.  Then there were other parts that made me want to put down the book and stop reading.  But I didn't, and I still intend on reading the next book, and the final book when it's released, because maybe Cabot will fill in the plot holes, include some character development, and flesh out the romance in the next books.  And also simply because I love mythology retellings, and now that I've started this trilogy I want to see how it turns out in the end.  B-

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