Thursday, 19 July 2012

Abandon by Meg Cabot

Abandon (2011)
Meg Cabot
Grade: C+
Genre: YA paranormal
Source: own
Abandon series: (1) Abandon, (2) Underworld

I haven't read any new MC in years. I've been reading her work for over half my life and the Princess Diaries, Mediator and Missing series were huge favourites during my teen years. My one venture into that huge world of Fan Fiction featured the awesome Suze Simon of the Mediator series but I never got near to finishing it and I think I would be horrified by what I found if I went and opened the document today. I believe the last new MC I read was Airhead in July 2009; it hadn't been great so I haven't yet read the other two. I distinctly remember MC stating years ago that she would never venture into vampire territory and so I steered clear of her Insatiable series. I'm really looking forward to Size 12 and Ready to Rock because I love Heather Wells, but when I saw Abandon and it's beautiful cover, I couldn't help but buy it.

Pierce Oliviera is a NDE: Near Death Experience. When she was fifteen, she tripped and fell into the outside swimming pool during winter and drowned. When people inevitably ask whether or not she saw a light, she never tells the truth of exactly what happened to her. She's learned the hard way that the truth could lead to a future featuring men in white suits ...

Pierce went to the Underworld, not that she knew what it was at the time. One moment she was floating in her pool and the next she was standing cold and dripping wet on a beach. It's there that she sees as familiar face. John appears to be in charge in this hell hole she's found herself in and when she was seven years old in Isla Huesos' cemetery, John brought a dead bird back to life. Once he recognises her, John whisks her away and the next moment, Pierce finds herself clothed in a beautiful white gown in John's bedroom. Then the reality hits her: she's there to stay. Pierce does the only thing going through her mind at the moment: she runs.

Amazingly, Pierce returns to the land of the living. It was the cold water that meant she could be resusciatated (don't understand this at all) and she's back without any serious physical damage. But Pierce can't forget what happened to her. Before she ran from him, John gave Pierce a priceless diamond pendant that would protect her from evil. It changes colour in different situations and managed to carry over with Pierce when she returns to normal life. It seems that everywhere she goes, trouble follows, sparking an appearance from John who removes Pierce from danger but lands her with a lawsuit.

Pierce has recently moved to Isla Huesos with her mother following her parents' divorce. They are hoping that a fresh start in a new school will be exactly what Pierce needs and Pierce is willing to comply. Little does she know that Isla Huesos sits on top of one of the many entrances to the Underworld (like Sunnydale over the Hellmouth) and she seems to bump into John whereever she turns.

Suddenly, a new school is the least of Pierce's worries. The cemetery sexton is growing suspicious of Pierce's attachment to the cemetery, the Senior class wants to build a coffin in her garage and Isla Huesos is bang in the middle of the hurricane hotspot and don't even get her started on John Hayden. John's necklace may warn her of evil but it's not enough to stop it when she has the Furies after her ...

I have a thing for mythology and really regret not taking Classics at A-Level because it's something that really interests me but I never knew what it actually was and the guy who taught it at my first school kinda put me off. By the time I realised that I wanted to study it, it was too late to change. I don't know much about Greek myths and so I was really excited when I first heard that MC would be doing a series about Persephone and Hades. It seems like years ago when it was first mentioned and I'm pretty sure that this is the series that was meant to be released in three consecutive months so that readers wouldn't have to wait a year between books. I haven't kept up with MC's blog in recent years, but it appears that that never worked out and Abandon's release date kept being pushed back in favour of other titles. I'm very glad to finally get my hands on it.

MC has a real knack for YA. She's often credited with pioneering teen-lit and the success of PD is a testament to how well she manages to capture the teenage voice. Abandon was an okay read but I didn't think that Pierce's voice was quite as well done as I remember those of her other books to be. This might just be me: after all, it's been years since I've read MC and I've mostly grown out of YA and so it is a bit strange reading MC's style after so long. It's not bad as such, just different. But as I said, the difference is possibly just me.

The events of Abandon aren't written in the most logical of orders. I was very confused for at least half of the book because Pierce keeps referring to past events that we don't find out about in detail until several chapters later. It makes for very confusing reading – even though I was mostly able to piece together bits and pieces together – and it kind of put me off from carrying on. I know it’s exciting if we're given hints of stuff that leave us wondering and push us to keep reading, but there was just too much of this and it was just all a bit too mish-mash for me to enjoy the suspense properly.

I don't think we know enough about John for me to be able to like him properly. Obviously, he's Hades, King of the Underworld and Pierce is Persephone but it’s a nice twist on it what with Pierce actually dying. Pierce's first few encounters with John are not very pleasant ones: she's either dead or he's trying to prevent her from ending up that way. Since MC writes in first person, we're under the impression for much of Abandon that John is severely pissed off with Pierce and so it's not a very congenial image of John that we're getting. [Side note: could MC have chosen a more boring name? Jonathan is all fine and lovely but John is the name of my dad and my boss where I'm working at the moment. It's just weird.] Even when he does start being nicer to Pierce, he’s just way too secretive and closed about himself and the reader (and Pierce) knows nothing about him apart from (a) his job and (b) that he likes to read romance and poetry. Sure, a bit of mysteriousness is nice, but there's just way too much we don't know about him that he's not offering anything up for sharing. Sure, he’s really hot, but (unfortunately) that’s not all there is to a relationship.

There's a lot of loose ends hanging that I'm very intrigued about. I can't really talk about it because it's huge spoilers for Abandon (even though they're not that major when you're actually reading it) but I will say that I'm excited to see how they're going to be handled (if they're going to be addressed at all) in Underworld and Awaken.

The UK covers are beautiful. So are the US, but the UK ones do perhaps have an edge, IMO. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m of the opinion that the UK covers are always much crappier than the US ones, especially for MC books. I mean, compare the UK and US Queen of Babble or Airhead, for example. The US versions are clearly superior. For Abandon, though, Macmillan have really gone all out. I love the symbolism of Pierce standing above John and the swirly pattern is awesome. Even if it hadn’t been an MC book, I would have definitely read it for the cover alone.

So this wasn’t a great book. MC has written a lot better but I think much of my hesitation comes from the fact that I’ve grown out of her style and so found it difficult to get back into it. I liked the play on Greek myth and the quotes from Dante’s Inferno was interesting. I didn’t understand a lot of it, but it was cool and fitted well with the book. Abandon might not have been the best start to the series, but I’m definitely coming back for books two and three. Part of the reason is because it’s Meg Cabot, but it also has the potential to be a really good series. Considering all the YA paranormal romance that’s out there at the moment (not that I’ve read a lot of it) I think the concept of Abandon really stands out in its originality – and the cover too. MC doesn’t usually disappoint, so fingers crossed!

Image courtesy of book depository

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