Publication Date: April 26th, 2011
New from #1 New York Times bestselling author Meg Cabot, a dark, fantastical story about this world . . . and the underworld.
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.
(Courtesy of Goodreads)
This book got some pretty scathing reviews on Goodreads, and for the life of me, I can't figure out why. I was absolutely riveted by this book! I thought it was a great, modern take on the whole Hades/Persephone story. It was a quick (probably because I couldn't put it down) and easy read, filled with suspense and intrigue. The story was perfectly paced so that I wanted to keep turning the pages until the end, and then immediately go to Goodreads to find out when book #2, Underworld, is coming out (sometime in 2012).
Sometimes with re-tellings I get nervous. I wonder how the author can possibly do justice to the original while making the story her own. Meg Cabot managed to do this with ease (although I can't really say how without a major spoiler). This story was truly different from the one it is based on, and I felt like it parts of it were actually an improvement. I was kept wondering until the very end, and while Cabot answered a good number of my questions neatly, she still left enough for me to eagerly anticipate book #2. I hate it when too much is left to the sequel. I like at least some resolution, but not too much.
As far as the characters were concerned, I felt like the character development was good. I would have liked to know a bit more about Uncle Chris and Alex, as well as a bit more about Pierce's parents, but as far as Pierce and John are concerned, I felt like the amount of information we are given (albeit slowly, throughout the book), is sufficient. My favorite character, funny enough, was the cemetery sexton, Richard Smith. At first, I really didn't like him, but he grew on me.
The biggest gripe most of the haters of this book had was that they didn't like Cabot's writing style. Her style is what it is. I like it enough. I think she is a master at drawing you into the story by giving information, a tidbit at a time, through the entire book. Yes, sometimes you go through half the book not really knowing what's happening, but she always pulls everything together nicely. I'll admit that I get frustrated sometimes by the lack of understanding at first, because I'm an impatient person by nature, but I always feel like Cabot redeemed herself (and then some) in the end. This book was no different than her others in that respect.
One of the tings I loved the most was the chapter headers. Each was a stanza from Dante's Inferno, which happened to be one of my favorite reads in college literature. Most of the books I read in the many lit classes I took in college were painfully boring to me. The entire Divine Comedy had me enthralled, but Inferno was, by far and away, my favorite. Reading Abandon made me want to go back 15 years later and read it again, so "Bravo" to Meg Cabot for reminding me of how much I loved Dante! After all, has there ever been a better description of the Underworld than his?
Overall, I really, REALLY enjoyed this book. It left me wanting for more, which is always a good thing. I was invested in the characters, and really want to know more about them and their stories. I will definitely be on the lookout for Underworld in 2012!
My Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ½
Grade Level Recommendation: I would say late Middle School and up because of a teen suicide due to an affair with a teacher. Otherwise, this book is fairly benign. Grade 7+ (ages 12+).