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Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Abandon by Meg Cabot: A Review

About the Book:

After the accident, 17 year old Pierce tries to start over. But even after moving to a new town and starting a new school, he still keeps showing up — always when she least expects him, but exactly when she needs him most.

One thing she knows for certain: John Hayden may be irresistible, but he’s no angel. 

But if Pierce lets herself fall any further, she may just find herself spending all of eternity in the one place to which she swore she’d never return . . . .

. . . his world: The Underworld.

(from the Author's website)

My Review:

I think I'm like many people out there who have a fascination for Greek mythology, which would explain the resurgence of it in out culture lately (hello, Clash of the Titans!), no more so than in literature. Everywhere you look these days, there is some rendition or another of famous - and maybe not so famous - Greek myths. Of those, the tale of Hades and Persephone seems to be the most popular. There are many different renditions of it and I have read quite a few, but I have to say that, to me, the one who got it absolutely right is Meg Cabot. In her hands, this story becomes a masterful work that is both engaging and thrilling.

One of the issues I have with other retellings is with the heroine, the Persephone-ish character. In some cases, she comes off as too weak, in others as kind of whiney, and her interactions with the hero might leave the reader to wonder, Why does Hades love her so much? But in Abandon, the author strikes just the right balance with the character, here in the persona of Pierce Oliviera. From the very first, I was drawn to her, curious about her story and the aftermath of her accident. From the first, she was presented as an interesting character that I wanted to know more about. And the way she dealt with the Hades character seemed more natural and organic to the plot. I liked that she wasn't immediately awed or cowed by him. Yes, she was a little wary of him, but when she encountered him on the other side, she had no problem going toe to toe with him - but not in a I'm-a-princess-I-want-to-get-my-own-way kind of manner. It was more like she was calling him out to do the right thing. And she wasn't a wishy-washy type who just waited around for someone else to save her. She actually tried to do something for herself. All in all, she was just a more likable heroine than others before her.

As was the Hades character, in the form of John Hayden. The author strikes just the right balance of mystique, machismo, and angst with John. He is shown in some telling moments of humanity, whether they be tender or terrifying, as he wages a battle over his feelings for Pierce and the problems she presents to him. Whatever else is going on, he is always there when she needs him most - which is more than can be said about some of the people who profess to care about her, and the relationship progresses in a way that just seems right, natural. Not forced, as in some other renditions. This relationship just seems real, like it really could happen despite his role in life. I never once questioned why he was interested in Pierce or the fact that they were supposed to be together. I believed it to be true.

Aside from Pierce and John, Abandon is filled with interesting characters, a few of whom might seem stereotypical at first, but, boy, do they surprise you! Suffice to say, all is not quite as it seems at the outset. There are some interesting surprises, some of which will have you thinking, I didn't see that one coming. I know I did. The same with some of the plot twists. The way they were all woven together with the myth of Hades and Persephone was just masterful and I ate up this nugget of gold in less than a day. All I can say is - I need to get my hands on the sequel, Underworld, ASAP!

Final Verdict: Amazing book by an amazing author. Once again, Meg Cabot delivered and made this my favorite rendering of the Hades/Persephone myth. So if you want to read a modern take on the myth, this is the one to read. Highly recommended. 

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