Sunday, April 3, 2011

The Myth of Persephone, Darkly Reimagined (Abandon Review)

CHECK OUT our Meg Cabot Book Giveaway!


Hey Guys! Please give a warm welcome to our guest blogger, Sandy, who has written a fabulous review on Meg Cabot's Abandon.

A few days ago Alyssa posted her Abandon review, and we thought it would be interesting to offer another perspective. We know Abandon isn't released until April, but if you have read an ARC...what do you think? Do you agree with Sandy? Or Alyssa? Or both? :) Make sure to share your thoughts with us! :)  -Rane-

The Myth of Persephone, Darkly Reimagined

Title: Abandon (Book One)
Author: Meg Cabot
Publisher: Scholastic Inc.
Release Date: April 26, 2011
Hardcover: 320 pages
Source: ARC (Thanks, Scholastic!)

She knows what it's like to die. Now Death wants her back. 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: The Underworld.


I have to say that I am a bit disappointed in this book. I was so excited when the ARC showed up on my doorstep, and I ripped open the package to find the sleek, black-and-gold book. As a child, I loved the romance and dark dangers lurking in ancient Greek myths. I was especially intrigued by the myth of Persephone and the lord of the underworld. Needless to say, I had very high hopes for this book.

I felt that the characters could use a bit more development, and they probably will be later in the series. Perhaps I am overly critical, but recently I have found that many female protagonists in YA novels tend to annoy me. Bella particularly irked me in the Twilight series, and I only put up with her because I loved Edward and Jacob. Bella just seemed so helpless, useless, and clueless—especially when it came to reading both Edward's and Jacob's feelings. Pierce Oliviera is a similarly frustrating character. She fully intends to be a strong and independent girl, but somehow often manages to come off as a bit dense and rash. John (a.k.a. Death or the ruler of the underworld) describes her as caring and selfless, but I wasn’t entirely convinced by her desire to help others. She simply had no idea what the people she cared about wanted or needed. I often had the urge to shake her and ask her if she really was that blind. 

John, while only slightly less clueless than Pierce, displayed a bit more depth. I mean, you can’t exactly blame a guy who has so little interaction with live people for not understanding a girl—especially a girl like Pierce. Sometimes I had imagined Hades as a seductive bad boy, and other times, I believed him to be a manipulative and selfish sort who could only get the girl by tricking her into eating the food from his world. Cabot created a somewhat complex and very sympathetic modern-day Hades figure in John. He exuded just the right amount of moody, dark, bad boy sex appeal, and I genuinely felt bad for him. He really didn't deserve a thankless job for eternity. And he certainly didn’t deserve a girlfriend who had no sense of emotional accountability. I am curious to learn more about his history as the series develops.

I would like to point out that one of Cabot's greatest strengths is her ability to make her main character jump off the page. As a writer, I know that it is very difficult to express a unique point of view, rather than simply write in an expository manner. In Abandon, Pierce's attitude and opinions infuse every line of text, and I really felt as though I was experiencing the story through her eyes. It's simply too bad for me that I didn't agree with most of her thoughts and actions.

The story opens about a year and a half after Pierce's near-death experience, and bounces back and forth in time between the present and past, filling in bits and pieces of information. This was a very clever plot device to keep the reader curious about Pierce's encounter with John in the underworld and the violent events afterwards that forced her to change schools and move to her mother's hometown on a tiny island off the coast of Florida. Overall, I found myself wanting to know the back story because it was offered so piecemeal, and this is what kept me turning the pages, despite my frustrations. However, the more I found out about her actions, the less sympathetic I became to Pierce. Eventually, I finished the book because I really wanted a resolution or some sort of reward for sticking it out, but I encountered a total cliffhanger. I prefer series that provide the reader with some payoff at the end of each book, while still keeping you hungry for more. I suppose it’s a very fine balance that is difficult to achieve. 

So I am moderately interested in finding out what will happen next, but I haven’t quite decided whether I will read the next book in the series. Perhaps Pierce will mature and become a less frustrating character in the next installment. If I didn’t have such a strong reaction to Pierce, I believe it would have been a much more enjoyable reading experience for me. The concept is really interesting, and I’d kind of like to see how Cabot develops her version of the myth.

My rating: 2.75