Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Review of Abandon by Meg Cabot, Or, Tea, the Last Weapon of the Desperate

In a Nutshell: Abandon is about 17-year-old Pierce (our modern Persephone) as she moves to a new town and her many interactions with the keeper of the Underworld who appears in her life at critical moments.

That doesn't look comfortable
I recently read Defy by Sara Larson which was a book that aimed higher than it delivered.  The cover and description lead me to believe this would be a kick-ass woman warrior novel, and instead I got a weak and unsupported love story and a heroine who blushed and cried more than a beauty queen on pageant day. 

So when I saw Abandon's cover depicting a supine, pretty but nondescript brunette and a tagline of "She knows what it's like to die" I anticipated an overly-dramatic teen who took herself too seriously and fainted frequently.  I was delighted to be wrong.   Meg Cabot is an author who knows this was to be read by 14-year-old-girls and kept the tone light and fun- at times passing over in a paragraph situations that would provide enough fodder for a half a dozen Lifetime Channel movies.  Cabot draws in her readers in the first few chapters with strategic comments about a scandalous "incident" and a creepily nuanced question from Pierce's grandmother in a cemetery.  And of course I knew that at some point there would be a death and a resurrection and some sort of romance with the god of death, but being a big fan of retellings, I needed to know how Cabot was going to do it.

No relation.
Despite an unfortunate name (every time I read it I thought of the New Hampshire born, unremarkable 14th President of the United States), I really liked Pierce.  Maybe it was her naive honesty (she bluntly tells her best friend, Hannah, that she can see evil now, and she'll protect her, and is somehow surprised when Hannah decides they need to spend some time apart).  Or her quirks, like her puzzling hatred of tassels.  But probably it was my appreciation that she didn't take herself too seriously.  Since I has been anticipating a heroine who cried alone in her room a lot and thought the world might end because she couldn't sort out her feelings, it was refreshing to read Pierce whose general attitude seemed to be "Oh well, that didn't work out as planned.  Moving on..."

I also can't help but like Pierce's reaction to John Hayden.  He's handsome, tall, and dressed all in black, so we know that despite his moodiness and lack of screen time he's a worthwhile guy who will eventually capture the heart of Pierce (because only a hero is described in those terms).  I like that Pierce isn't afraid to call him a jerk when he is one (see above, "naive honesty").  That no matter how attractive he is in those dark jeans, that does NOT make it okay to kidnap her.  That even though "he's just trying to keep her safe" Pierce knows that her life is hers to live and risk as she sees fit and won't think he's being sweet and protective.  The first time she was faced with spending an eternity with him in a castle-bedroom, she had the common sense to freak out, know she was way to young for this, and have wherewithal to throw tea in his face and escape.  

What did you think of Abandon?  Did you like Pierce as I did, or was she too much of a space cadet for you?  How does this compare to Cabot's other novels?  Were you also happy that the cemetery sexton had a partner and it wasn't a big deal- as it shouldn't be?  I look forward to reading your thoughts!




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