by Meg Cabot

Rating: ****

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.

What did all of it mean? Where could it go? He was a death deity. I was a teenager in high school.

I really liked this novel. I did. And having read some people’s reviews I can see why many might find a reason not to. But frankly, I thought most of these complaints had a reasonable explanation behind all of it.

This story is, according the flap a “darkly re-imagined” tale of the myth of Hades, the Greek god of the Underworld, and Persephone, the girl he captured ( against her will, obviously) to live with him. Understandably enough P’s mother, Demeter was pissed and decided to rescue her daughter. She and Hades managed to strike a deal and the result was that Persephone would spend six months underground with Hades, and six months above ground with her mother, and friends etc. This is the myth that the Greeks used to explain the changing of the seasons. During the six months her daughter is away from her, Demeter becomes all depressed, and, she being the goddess of harvest, all the trees start to lose their leaves, plants wilt, and it is oh so cold. It is what is now known as winter. (I looked up certain things, and it turns out, Persephone is actually Hades’ niece because Zeus, being the amorous jerk that he is –also, Hades’ brother-, had an affair with Demeter, and Persephone was the end result. Barf.)

Moving on.

In Abandon, there is:

Pierce, a scarred teenager, who has recently suffered from a near-death experience (i.e., died and came back to life) and came into contact with…

John Hayden, current ruler of the Underworld, and all around, wild, dark, brooding hero, who gave Pierce…

The Diamond Necklace, which is able to warn the wearer of any impending evil or doom, such as…

The Furies, which are basically (in this book at least, and many historians would scoff) the spirits of the dead who are, shall we say, pissed at John for categorizing them as the less deserving of the dead.

Also there is Richard Smith, the cemetery sexton who has a significant role. Cabot said, when asked whom she would cast for the roles in this book, that the only person she considered was Morgan Freeman for Richard Smith. I speak truth, you can read it on her blog. And it was Morgan Freeman in my head, the entire time Smith made an appearance in the story, and it was just perfect *grin*. I love Morgan Freeman.

So at 15, Pierce, drowns, finds herself in the Underworld, comes face to face with John Hayden, and manages to escape (what she thinks are) his evil clutches. But life is no longer the same for her. She seems to constantly find herself in danger, and John is always popping up to rescue her from these situations (never mind that he’s still resentful of her for escaping).

First off, I liked the writing. Usually Meg Cabot has a distinctive voice, but in this novel, you can’t really put a finger on it. Which is a good thing, because I was starting to get tired of her usual semantics. She has this habit of adding on “I mean”. For example, ‘I was reading the review about Abandon and I have to say I hated it. The review, I mean.’ This can get pretty irritating after about fifty times in one chapter. Ok, I’m guilty of hyperbole but you get the idea.

I liked Pierce. Many seem to think she’s a spoilt little brat who’s a little too wrapped up in her own problems and is ok with throwing her Dad’s money at them. But I think when you’re the daughter of a CEO of a major oil company, and many people only befriend you for that reason, you sort of start to doubt that there’s any other reason people pursue you. And she was anything but self-absorbed. She tries to protect her mother and live up to her expectations of making a new start in Isla Huesos; she also tries to sort the situation with her best friend, Hannah (here, I admit she could have handled the situation differently, but it was also clear she was acting on the belief that she was the only one who suspected the true criminal).
She does go on a bit about her death and her experience in the Underworld, but..um, can I just point out that she DIED? And came back to life? So, I would like to challenge anyone else to be a bit less absorbed about that if they were in the same situation.

And it does seem as if the romance was rushed. And there is a declaration of love, but I have to point it was from John, not from Pierce. She has only been aware of who he is for a little over a year, and is still unclear about what she feels for him, and how deep those feelings are. I chalk up John’s sudden declaration to the fact that this is a myth about Hades and Persephone, and Hades captured her upon a sudden feeling of love. I guess all Greek myths are based on some sort of sudden and seemingly unfounded emotion. This book seems mainly to have set the scene, and introduced the primary characters, as well as the secondary ones (who I believe will have more prominent roles in the upcoming novels). Many say there is no plot. I disagree. There is a plot: it’s simply in the flashback. Just because we’re in the protagonist’s head, while they revisit the past, doesn’t mean we can write the story off as lacking plot.

The narration, I’ll admit, was a bit awkward. As I said there are flashbacks, and Pierce seemed to be constantly jumping back and forth. At one point, she loses the diamond necklace; and following this, she’s narrating a past incident where she happened to have the necklace and I had to go back and check twice to sort that out – that is irritating. I found it to be a bit confusing, but on hindsight it seemed to add to the suspense of the story and I think I kind of like it. You can see Cabot really does love this myth, and her excitement over this story is very evident.
Just a note: I didn’t really find John Hayden to be a very intriguing sort of hero. I get that he’s supposed to be all tortured and scarred from dealing with the dead, etc. but his whole ‘wild, uncontrollable caveman’ image just didn’t work for me. Tons of readers seem to have fallen in love with him, so it’s probably just me.

On the other hand, I may have fallen for Richard Smith, the aging, eccentric man who works in the cemetery. There is something wrong with me, right?

But otherwise, read! Enjoy!


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