Saturday, June 25, 2011

YA book review: Abandon by Meg Cabot

Reading level: Young Adult
Hardcover: 320 pages
Publisher: Point; 1 edition (April 26, 2011)

Blurb: 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.

Our review: There are authors I admire so much I will faithfully grab their latest offerings and dive in without reading reviews. Meg Cabot is high on my list. I adored The Mediator series and devoured each title as soon as they were available. I've read others by her and this series is simply an alltime favorite. Her latest YA series, the Abandon trilogy, is another I eagerly anticipated, but after finishing the first book in Cabot's The Myth of Persephone, Darkly Reimagined, I have mixed feelings.

Where do I begin? Okay, here goes. What I didn't like about Abandon was its opening chapter. The constant back-and-forth between past events and the present really got to me. Who wants to be bogged down trying to figure out happenings within a fifteen page radius? I was confused by Pierce Oliviera's first person narrative and her helter-skelterish way of telling her tale. I understand she died after hitting her head and fell into the family pool trying to save a bird and suffered a subdural hematoma. She was brought back after dying and had a near death experience we are privy to. Before she died she met John, a mysterious guy in black inside the cemetery of her grandparents' hometown, Isla Huesos (Island of Bones), when she was younger, and she meets him again in her afterlife experience. Upon grabbing his attention, he saves her from his horse and winds up taking her to his house in the Otherworld to live with him. The problem is she wants to go back home and escapes, successfully. 

Her life is drastically changed after she returns and she is subsequntly kicked out of the Westport Academy for Girls. Her parents separate, mom takes her from Connecticut back home to Florida, and things really begin to heat up for Pierce. Isla Huesos is where she first met John and she encounters him more frequently there (she also saw him on the other coast, he only popped up when her life was threatened).

So, I get this. The whole life-after-death and near-death experiences were kinda cool. Don't we secretly wonder what happens after we close our eyes for the last time? But I also felt a little creeped out by the whole guy in black meeting up with the pretty kid turned teen who develops 'a thing' for this guy who has shown possessiveness bordering on obsession/scary physical outbursts of brute strength/a cold attitude/but he's a tortured soul dressed in black and he presents me with a gorgeous necklace (a diamond!)/did I say he's h-o-t?!

I'm growing tired of this formula so prevalent in today's paranormal YA.
 I am a romantic and will suspend belief for many things so I don't mind beleiving in otherwordly love--as long as the couple is convincing. I'm not sold on Pierce and John yet, simply because I found Pierce annoying at times with her tendency to overthink, over analyze, and repeat things we already know about. Don't beat me over the head with your facts. I was also peeved over the repeated references to the Mr. Mueller incident which wasn't fully revealed until later on (page 140). Hints of foreshadowing are okay but too many mentions makes the final revealing trite. 

What I have always liked about Meg Cabot is her nice, easy style of writing. She has a way of unwrapping a present for us and when we're fully vested she wraps it back up and we like it because we know what's going on. When I read her books I fall into the story and don't get back up until it's over. With Abandon I almost slammed the book shut during the opening chapter. And then I kept on because of my fondness for the author. I know I kind of ranted and I had to as a honest reviewer. And I now need to say Abandon did draw me in (*squee* finally!!) closer to the ending. I began to actually sort-of like Pierce and found John more intriguing/interesting after his background story was told. As Pierce's head began to clear, so to speak, and she figured things out, the pace picked up, the story came together and I wanted to keep reading.

Abandon was a frustrating read. The storytelling mechanics Cabot employed, the jumping from past to present during the initial set-up of the novel became a hindrance to this reader, it continuously took me out of the story and confused me. When I finally began to settle into the book I realized (sadly) the first installment was ending. I will read book two, Underworld, but I will wait to get it from the library.

Favorite excerpt: (Note: my favorite scene was the poolside/gecko scene but it runs longish so I cut out a segment I liked)

"For once he didn't jerk his hand away. Though his gaze did leave the water and focused on my fingers instead.

"Yes," he said quietly.

"And now there are Furies after me," I said.

Now that bright silver gaze finally turned full on my face.

"There aren't any Furies after you," he said. He looked genuinely puzzled. "Why should there be?"

"Well," I said. Because you chose me, I wanted to say. Like Hades chose Persephone. I opted to play it safe, however, in case he accused me of flirting again, and settled instead for saying, "Because you gave me the necklace."

"And you threw a cup of tea in my face," he reminded me drily. "Then you left. I'm fairly certain even the Furies got that message loud and clear. They're hardly likely to come after someone who hates me just as much as they do. In fact, the Furies probably consider you one of their closest allies."

I moved my hand away from his, stung . . . even if most of what he'd said was true. Well, the tea part, anyway." (from pages 256-257)

Rating: After awhile, I did like it.

Cover comment: I'm not crazy about this cover. It's too dark and boring. Maybe a few trees or something from the actual underworld scene inside the book would make more sense.

Book source: Library.


  1. This was my first Meg Cabot book, and I was disappointed. My review reads pretty close to yours, Pierce was frustrating and annoying, and the back and forth in time was killing me. Like you I started to like it more at the END. I decided to give Meg Cabot another chance and I just bought Insatiable, hopefully that gives me better results. Great review!!

  2. I did like Abandon, but I found some bits confusing, so I agree with you to an extent. Glad you're deciding to read the next book though, I'm looking forward to it! Thanks for the honest review :).

  3. I'm with you all the way on this. Pierce and John had no chemistry at first, and the fact that he didn't even remember her when she first got to the Underworld didn't sit right with me. If she'd supposedly gotten under his skin the first time they met, how could he not know her the minute he saw her? And then there's her whole poor me, I-died-and-no-one-understands attitude. But by the ending, I wanted to read more.

  4. i love meg cabot's but i haven't read abandon yet...thx u for the review :)