Thursday, February 14, 2013

Book Review: Underworld by Meg Cabot

Title:  Underworld
Author:  Meg Cabot
Series:  Abandon Trilogy #2
Genre:  YA mythology retelling
Pages:  318

Rating:  B+

Synopsis from  Seventeen-year-old Pierce Oliviera isn't dead. Not this time.

But she is being held against her will in the dim, twilit world between heaven and hell, where the spirits of the deceased wait before embarking upon their final journey. Her captor, John Hayden, claims it's for her own safety. Because not all the departed are dear. Some are so unhappy with where they ended up after leaving the Underworld, they've come back as Furies, intent on vengeance... on the one who sent them there and on the one whom he loves.

But while Pierce might be safe from the Furies in the Underworld, far worse dangers could be lurking for her there... and they might have more to do with its ruler than with his enemies. And unless Pierce is careful, this time there'll be no escape

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

What an improvement!  Underworld is so much better than Abandon, which is what I'd been hoping.  It still wasn't the best-written book I've ever read (Show; don't tell!), but so many of the things I disliked in the first book weren't in this one.

First, we got a little more character development for the other characters, besides Pierce.  In the first book, all the development went to Pierce, and everyone else was kind of flat.  This time, John and Kayla and Alex all get some much-needed background stories and personality.  It made me much more invested in their characters and stories.

Second, John and Pierce were much better characters overall.  They weren't nearly as annoying, they worked well together, and their romance got a little more depth.  That doesn't mean that Pierce didn't still say or do stupid things, because she did.  Or that John stopped overreacting, because he did that too.  But it was on a much more normal, smaller scale.  And their relationship, while I'm still so mad that it started as an insta-love, had its ups and downs like any typical relationship.  If by typical, you include Furies trying to kill you and spending eternity in the Underworld.

Third, like Abandon, Underworld had some really good plot twists.  Once again, Cabot surprised me with the ending.  The book wasn't action-packed, but the pace was fast, and there was enough happening to keep me engaged.

There were some things that bugged me.  I really hate Richard Smith and his lectures.  His whole point of being in the story is simply to fill in the blanks on how the Underworld and death deities work in almost encyclopedia form.  At the same time, there were parts that felt like they didn't get enough information, and I was left wondering what I'd missed.  But what annoyed me most was Cabot's writing.  There were some moments of dialogue that sounded so over-the-top and melodramatic, I laughed when I read them, which I'm sure wasn't the emotion Cabot was trying for.

Still, Underworld definitely seemed like a huge step up from Abandon.  With more character development, a more realistic relationship drama, and a fast-paced plot, this second book was a great read, and now I'm really looking forward to the final book of the trilogy, AwakenB+

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