Thursday, August 22, 2013

Book Review: Abandon by Meg Cabot

Abandon, by Meg Cabot
Published April 2011 by Point
About the Book:

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.

My Take:

Let me start with I have the utmost respect for Meg Cabot as an author, that I’ve purchased oodles of her books for my daughter (including every Allie Finkle book.) Ms. Cabot was the subject of my daughter’s Girl Scout “Women to Watch” bio project a few years back. We love Meg Cabot.

So when we found ABANDON in the local bookstore, I urged my daughter to get it. She was looking for a new series, and this was an author we knew and liked.

Big mistake.

My daughter abandoned the book after the first 5 pages. “The main character already died,” she told me. “Why keep reading?”

Having recently read another (truly wonderful) novel based on the Persephone myth, (FOR THE LOVE OF HADES, by Sasha Summer) I decided I’d give it a go and then tell my daughter why she was wrong.

Except she was right.

First of all, the plot is hard to follow because it jumps back and forth in time so much that it’s hard to follow. At first I kept telling myself it was the narrator’s ADHD voice… but it was supremely confusing. The main character, Pierce, keeps making oblique references to key events that she hasn’t explained yet. The first few times it was enticing. But it got old pretty fast, and there were so many different events in the past that the narrative was muddled.

And then there was the narrator herself.

I’m used to a lot of first person POV in current YA. I’m used to the narrator being self-deprecating, hard on herself, even full of self-doubt and insecurity. As long as there’s something for the reader to like, to hold onto, to see in the character that we can then root for her to discover in herself.

Pierce was just unlikeable. She keeps telling us how much she cares for others, for wild creatures, for the birds she tries to save – she admits that her biggest problem is that she cares too much. But telling the reader you’re sooo selfless doesn’t make it so.

She frequently compares herself to Snow White, and her life to a glass casket. Which kind of makes for a boring main character – she’s watching things happen, and she gets info-dumped on rather than making things happen or discovering for herself who the mysterious boy truly is.

Which brings me to the “hero” John, who is anything but heroic and at times more like an abusive boyfriend. Perhaps there really is a tragic story that explains his violent mood swings and odd behaviors, but we aren’t privy to it. When Pierce finally finds someone who believes that John even exists, the guy basically tells her to be nice to John because he’s had a rough time of it. Really?

The romance was almost non-existent as Pierce and John spend most of the book angry with each other when they are together, although Pierce spends a lot of time daydreaming about her dark stalker and wondering what he wants with her. Duh.

Anyway, I don’t want to “spoil” the book in case someone really wants to read it. I’d advise against it, but other readers have read the same book and enjoyed it. ABANDON is the first book of a trilogy that includes UNDERWORLD and AWAKEN, all three of which are currently available. ABANDON ends without resolution, and from what I read online, UNDERWORLD does the same thing. Not stand alone books at all, but I’m not going to continue.

If you want a great retelling of the Persephone love story, I totally recommend FOR THE LOVE OF HADES, by Sasha Summer.

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