When I hear the name “Meg Cabot,” I think “chick lit.”  Chick lit is not something I read.  However, as a librarian, I have to keep an open mind and be familiar with a vast expanse of different types of literature.  I picked up a copy of Abandon by Meg Cabot from the Superiorland Preview Center for the library, and gave it a read.  That it’s part of the current trend of novels based on mythology helped a bit.  Maybe this could be something I can recommend to girls who liked the Percy Jackson series and want something more advanced (and girlie).

Checkouts: New to the library, courtesy of the Superiorland Preview Center
Typical reader: Teen girls

Synopsis: Pierce Oliviera died, and was revived.  After bad things happened at her school a year later, she and her mother move to her mother’s hometown on Isla Huesos, Florida, to get a fresh start.  The brooding, dangerous man named John that she encountered in the Underworld can’t leave her alone, though.

My Goodreads rating: 3 stars (2.5, really)

Let me start with the good points to this book.  I really enjoyed the story.  Whether Pierce was narrating what was happening in the present time, or reflecting back on all that had happened, I was captivated.  The plot was never dull, and the pace kept things interesting, revealing bits and pieces of the past here and there.  It had a reasonably natural stream of consciousness.  The story was the strongest aspect of the novel.

The use of Greek mythology was pretty good, if a bit tweaked here and there.  The scenes by the river Styx (wide enough to appear to be a lake to Pierce) were excellent.  On the other hand, the Furies are completely different beasts than in Classical myths.  It’s not so bad as sparkly, day-walking stalker boyfriends being called vampires, but there’s probably a better name for the monsters the Furies in this book were instead of Furies.  On the other hand … and this might be a slight spoiler … I can’t help but wonder what John really is.  If he’s not really Hades and is in fact just a nasty guy, the Furies are doing their time-honored job of tormenting the damned.

Pierce is a mixed bag of a protagonist.  I am loath to call her a heroine, because that would mean that she did something heroic.  Sure, she threw hot tea in John’s face and ran to escape him when he brought her to his prisonlike bedroom, but most of the time she was a hapless rich brat that needed rescuing either by her father’s money or by John’s brute force.  She is simultaneously altruistic and shallow, determined and fragile.

Perhaps it is her shallowness that leads to a major problem I had with the book: the other characters.  Pierce is the narrator, and maybe it’s because she’s so self-absorbed that the other characters are never really described.  I would be hard-pressed to describe any supporting character with more than a sentence.  Even John could be summed up fairly succinctly.  It would have been nice to know more about any of them, rather than having a cast of people as flat as pancakes.

Then there is the romance.  Don’t get me wrong, romance has its place.  This just doesn’t seem to be it, especially how sparingly it’s used.  John doesn’t kiss Pierce until page 260.  The book only has 44 pages to go from there.  If you’re looking for a romance novel, I don’t think this is it!  Plus, their relationship is so unhealthy.  I get that this is based off Hades and Persephone.  Hades kidnapped Persephone to be his queen, reluctantly giving her back to her mother for half the year after ordered to do so by Zeus.  So the relationship is a bit doomed by the parameters to be a bit one-sided and forced.  Does that make it right for him to show up and severely injure people when he perceives Pierce to be in danger?  No.  Does that make it right for him to kidnap her, whether it’s for her protection or not?  No.

This book is the first in a trilogy.  I’m mildly curious to know whether she escapes from him in the next two books, or if she develops Stockholm Syndrome.