11 July 2011
Tassels Are Bad
Seventeen-year-old Pierce knows what happens to us when we die. That's how she met John Hayden, the mysterious stranger who's made returning to normal life - or at least life as Pierce knew it before the accident - next to impossible. Though she thought she escaped him - starting a new school in a whole new place - it turns out she was wrong. He finds her. What does John want from her? Pierce thinks she knows... just like she knows he's no guardian angel, and his dark world isn't exactly heaven. But she can't stay away from him, either, especially since he's always there when she least expects it, but exactly when she needs him most. But if she lets herself fall any further, she might find herself back in the place she fears the most. And when Pierce discovers the shocking truth, that's exactly where John sweeps her: The Underworld.
I had such high expectations for this book, but I was totally disappointed. I'd read only one of Meg Cabot's books before, but it was excellent - the protagonist was strong and funny, the plot was interesting, and the characters were realistic and charming. And on top of that, I am a huge Greek mythology lover. So I was excited - a new retelling of the Hades and Persephone myth? Bring it on. However, the protagonist in Abandon, Pierce, annoyed me from the start. She spends 2/3 of the book referring to "the accident" and "the incident" without telling us what happened, and instead of creating suspense, this technique just results in irritation. I found myself wishing she would get on with it and tell an actual story already. And nothing actually happens until the last 1/3 of the book - and even then, there aren't many answers, just questions. The whole book felt like nothing but a setup for the future books in the series - one big long prologue to the story.
The love interest, John Hayden, was a stereotype. He's tall, dark, handsome, possibly unbalanced, and a flat character. He basically shows up in Pierce's life whenever she needs him, causes some mayhem, and then disappears. They don't seem to have much chemistry and there isn't much relationship-building, but all the same, there's the typical scene where "his lips came down over mine" and suddenly she's so in love and can't live without him, etc.
However, the history of Isla Huesos and the tradition of Coffin Night were intriguing to learn about, and I do give the book props for characters who were diverse in race, class, and background. The ties to Greek mythology were also interesting when they appeared - the little things, like Pierce's father being powerful like Zeus, and Pierce's mother caring for the environment like Demeter.
I think that my overall impression of this book is that it had a lot of potential, but never lived up to it. Possibly the most I got out of it is the idea that tasseled shoes are very, very bad. While I didn't like Abandon much, I do have hopes that the sequel, Underworld, will be more satisfying.