Book Two of the Abandon series
By Meg Cabot
Available now from Point (Scholastic)
I adore Meg Cabot. Many of her books, both YA and adult, have a special place on my shelf. But when I finished ABANDON, I was disappointed. It's interpretation of the Persephone myth was dodgy and the plot kind of weak.
UNDERWORLD opens where ABANDON left off, with Pierce now willingly in the underworld having escaped her Fury-possessed grandmother with John. Pierce almost immediately starts waxing Persephone. Now, I'll give Cabot props for tackling a tough myth. But instead of facing the undertone of rape in the original myth she sweeps it under the rug. UNDERWORLD does get slightly more points for its handling of the original by acknowledging that Pierce doesn't know much more than the Disneyfied version despite how much she waxes on about it. Both John and Mr. Smith, the cemetery sexton on Isla Huesos, correct her impressions of the myth throughout the story.
Honestly, I only pushed through the beginning of UNDERWORLD because of how much I like Cabot. Usually I can read one of her books in about half an hour. It's impossible to know how long I took on the first eighty or so pages because I kept putting the book down from boredom. The plot finally kicks into gear when Pierce and John go back to the Isla Huesos to save her cousin Alex since she received a premonition of him trapped and terrified. At the same time, there's the dark secret of Jack's past to uncover.
While UNDERWORLD had an actual plot that kept me entertained, it felt a bit pointless in the end. (And, mild spoilers, everyone is very blase that a guy who is your average jerk transitions to straight-up murdering someone.) Jack's past: not that dark. To be very general, he tried to do a good thing and bad things happened, but nothing worse than if he hadn't acted. Alex acts completely differently than he did in ABANDON, turning into an obstinate twit just to cause conflict. Kayla, the best character in the series, shows up far too briefly.
I suppose UNDERWORLD is supposed to be carried by John and Pierce's romance. But I'm just not feeling it. Pierce reacts to everything before thinking. She's tempestuous, but seems more overwhelmed by her confusion than passion. John, meanwhile, just doesn't do it for me like most of Cabot's heroes. He's overprotective in a bad way and uncommunicative. Pierce might have less emotional whiplash if he'd just talk to her instead of making abrupt revelations that affect her entire life.
UNDERWORLD was a significant improvement over ABANDON. But this series just ain't working for me.