"Abandon" by Meg Cabot [PG Review]

{This is a Parental Guidance review, and contains spoilers} 

Book Review of Abandon by Meg Cabot

Abandonment is a common theme in YA literature.  Story after story revolves around a protagonist who is orphaned in some way; either by the literal death of their parents, or the lack of parental care or involvement in their lives.

Synopsis of Abandon

Pierce Oliveria is 'orphaned' by her neglectful parents. They are completely preoccupied with their own pursuits. They can't even come together to help her cope with the repercussions of being revived after she drowns in her father's swimming pool. And they certainly aren't able to deal with who or what has followed her back to earth from the Underworld.

An incident with a teacher results in her mother moving them back to her 'hometown' on Isla Huesos, and a mysterious stranger keeps showing up every time Pierce is upset. She is enrolled in a special program for troubled students, which doesn't help her feel positive or confident at her new school.

This story ends with a hanging-by-a-cuticle teaser. Those who love a series will be happy to know that this is the first in the Abandon trilogy.

Abandon was inspired by the Greek myth of Hades kidnapping Persephone and taking her to the Underworld, and this story offers the drama and pathos of young love with its yearning and confusion, as well as some darkness and danger.

Commentary

Abandon
$11.51
By Meg Cabot

Pierce was an engaging character, and her struggles felt real.  The premise is a fresh new twist on an old tale, and I almost always enjoy a retelling or adaption of mythology. I could picture Pierce's father as a type of Zeus, being a powerful businessman to whom everyone bows.

However, I was very puzzled by the structure of this story. This is the first time I've read a Meg Cabot novel, and I was anticipating some stellar writing. But the story line seemed disjointed to me, with the action of the main plot divided by chunks of exposition, and flashbacks injected at odd intervals. Perhaps this was a way of communicating the hither-and-thither mind of a young girl. . . But rather than a strong and steady build toward climactic moment or major conflict, a few problems were sprinkled here and there, then a big reveal came out of nowhere, and was abruptly semi-resolved.

It's not easy to say something critical about a best-selling and beloved author. I mean, how many books have I published lately? But the above describes my experience as a reader - a big "Huhwha?"

I'm not a fan of the young girl-falls-for-ancient-guy romance, even if the ancient guy is a god of the Underworld. Especially when the guy is a god of the Underworld. Instalove in YA lit is on my personal list of objectionable elements, as I believe that it is a harmful idea, especially for young women, to imply that they can know someone after two 15-minute conversations and a few deeply meaningful stares. Not to mention romanticizing relationships between very young women and much, MUCH older men. And that is a criticism I am very comfortable with pointing out.

Sensitive, Objectionable or Mature Content

  • Sexual situations or references: Pierce has a strange and strong attraction to a dark and mysterious stranger who is much older. By the end of the story, they have had some passionate kisses and he has kidnapped her and taken her to his lair. The fact that it is equipped with a huge bed freaks Pierce out. It is implied that a teacher has made sexual advances toward female students.

  • Violence/gore: Some offstage violence, and a few details about Pierce drowning, A friend dies, presumably by her own hand. A man who threatens Pierce dies of a heart attack. A teacher who made inappropriate advances is attacked and all the bones in his hand are broken.

  • Profanities/obscenities: a couple of obscenities

  • Peril/Death: The story revolves around Pierce's death and experiences in the Underworld. Pierce's friend Hannah dies and it appears to have been a suicide. A counselor at school is killed while patrolling the cemetery.

  • Family and social conflicts: Pierce's parents basically ignore her needs and struggles, her grandmother is revealed to be the person who orchestrated Pierce's death, and wants to kill her.

  • Supernatural/occult: Pierce dies, goes to the Underworld, meets a death deity, is being chased by Furies who want to kill her, and is in possession of a necklace that turns dark in the presence of evil.

The story continues with Underworld (Book 2) and Awaken (Book 3).

Interviews about Abandon with author Meg Cabot can be found at: