Meg Cabot’s Abandon Series: Underworld

underworld-mediumEscape from the realm of the dead is impossible when someone there wants you back.

Seventeen-year-old Pierce Oliviera isn’t dead.

Not this time.

But she is being held against her will in the dim, twilit world between heaven and hell, where the spirits of the deceased wait before embarking upon their final journey.

Her captor, John Hayden, claims it’s for her own safety. Because not all the departed are dear. Some are so unhappy with where they ended up after leaving the Underworld, they’ve come back as Furies, intent on vengeance…on the one who sent them there and on the one whom he loves.

But while Pierce might be safe from the Furies in the Underworld, far worse dangers could be lurking for her there…and they might have more to do with its ruler than with his enemies.

And unless Pierce is careful, this time there’ll be no escape.

You want to know what makes me saddest about this book? It told me that I’m getting older way more than my high school diploma ever did.

Any girl between the ages of twelve and seventeen will probably love this book. I know I would have if I was a little younger when I read it.

As a retelling of Persephone and Hades, it’s great for the Greek mythology geek. And like Meg Cabot’s other books, it’s perfect for the high school outsider.

However, you’ll probably like it less if you’re older than seventeen.

Here are the good points:

  • Meg Cabot is a fantastic storyteller, no matter what
  • Pierce is a really relatable character
  • John Hayden is a great love interest who is moderately mentally stable
  • the Greek mythology is awesome

Here are the bad points:

  • A lot of angst
  • People have misplaced priorities
  • A lot of irrational decisions made by both Pierce and John
  • A lot of Meg Cabot’s usual flair and humor seems to be missing

Despite all of the bad points, I really was drawn into the plot. Pierce’s cousin, Alex, is in trouble, and we learn about John’s background and how he became lord of the Underworld (gotta love the antiheroes). I’m not joking when I say Meg Cabot can tell a great story. Even though this book didn’t make me laugh like The Princess Diaries series and I’m not cheering on a kickass heroine like in the Airhead series or in Teen Idol, I still got sucked into the story.

There is a lot of angst in this. Again, maybe I’m getting older and noticing more, or maybe it’s different from the others. But Pierce can be full of melodrama and sometimes she just seems so clueless. Why would a kid who is clearly from nineteenth century know what a cell phone is, for instance? Or did Pierce really think that only pomegranates trapped a person in the Underworld? Yeah, that’s what Persephone ate, but all of the versions of Persephone and Hades that I read clearly said food from the Underworld, and I’ve had to read several versions throughout middle and high school. You would think someone dating the lord of the Underworld would bother to actually read the legend.

John’s crew irritated me as well. They don’t really care when Pierce tells them that her cousin is dying. Granted, they are in the Underworld and Pierce has her priorities a little topsy-turvy too. I mean, her cousin could be dying but she didn’t want to inconvenience a little kid by making him go get John? Really? But the crew seemed to think it was absurd for John to save Alex, even though they thought it was perfectly natural when he saved a woman from getting her purse snatched. The misplaced priorities are irking.

The irrational decisions I can actually forgive. Every teenager makes dumb decisions at times and Pierce thinking her parents are better off with her missing isn’t the craziest idea ever. And even though John thought trapping Pierce forever in the Underworld and away from her family wouldn’t upset her was absurd, I can understand why he took her there. He didn’t think there was a way to stop the Harpies, after all, and he was scared out of his mind that she would be hurt.

Actually, John is a pretty stable love interest for a teen romance. I don’t think he and Pierce have the healthiest relationship, but he’s not controlling, easily jealous, or misogynist. Without a doubt he’s crazy about Pierce and if she had actually expressed wish to be left alone, without changing her mind an hour later, I think he would have.

And even though nineteen is too old to really get into the love story, the Greek mythology and storytelling can still be appreciated. Greek nerds and teen girls alike will love the Abandon series, and Underworld will not disappoint Meg Cabot’s die-hard fans.

Pick up this book at your favorite local bookstore.

 

 

 

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Fantasy Novel Review: The Silent Queen

Red Ribbon on BlackQueen Phoibe is crowned Queen by Zeus himself before her world changed forever.

Only minutes after she is crowned, the gods declared war on the humans, enraged that the Oracle of Delphi closed the bridge between Earth and their world. It’s Phoibe’s job to stop the gods and protect her people and she plans to do just that with the help of her two patron gods, Thanatos and Artemis. But first she needs to survive the terror raining down from the heavens.

I enjoyed this story for the most part. I thought it was a little slow starting and because it’s so short there wasn’t enough time for a lot of character development, although there will be a lot more of that in the books to come. This is part one of a series, after all. For the time being, though, Phoibe is a bit of a bland character. She’s a fourteen-year-old with all of the angst and none of the smart-ass remarks. I don’t understand why she has to be so young, either. Her character is way too mature for it to be believable. She’s probably the least relatable fourteen-year-old ever. Her entire character is like a Greek statue: dignified, beautiful, and inhuman.

Lantos, however, is fantastic. As Phoibe’s former childhood friend and a demigod, he is not to be trusted even though he saved her life by warning her of the war being declared. He has a smart mouth to be sure and I really wish he had a more prominent role in the story. About halfway through he is pushed out of a helicopter, though. (But he’s a demigod, so technically he’s still alive. My guess is he’ll show up in future books and eventually be the love interest).

While the writing isn’t bad, Lizzy Ford could take a couple of grammar lessons. She used one of my biggest pet peeves of all time: she used infer when she should have used imply.  Ugh. It took me a couple more paragraphs to actually get back into the story. This slip-up is really unforgivable because it’s Phoibe’s voice Lizzy is talking with, and it’s already been established that Phoibe is highly educated: she was born to be a queen after all. This really shows Ford’s incompetencey.

However, in all 10 thousand plus words of the story, there isn’t another error that glaring, so  with all said and done, the book is actually put together really well. And the story flows along smoothly. While I think some fantasy fans would enjoy this book and this series, I’ll probably not buy the next book. As much as I like the plot, the characters are too flat for me to really get into the book.

If you enjoyed my review, then please share it with your friends, or connect with me on Twitter. And if you’ve read The Silent Queen, then I would love for you to leave your opinion in the comments below. Thank you!

Why The Aerling Series Reminds Me of the Hunger Games

I just finished the first book of DelSheree Gladdens’s Aerling Series, Invisible. It is a science fiction story about Olivia and her invisible friend, Mason, who has lived with her and her family since she found him on the street when they were kids. She is the only one who can see him and it isn’t until they are in their final years of high school that they find out he is an Aerling, part of an alien race. Not only that, but he’s being hunted by Sentinels, who consider Aerlings impure, and if anyone finds out that Olivia found Mason on the street instead of him being assigned to her family by Caretakers, then they will take him away from her, and she is not ready for that, even though it will put her own life in danger.

buy link:

Smashwords

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Why Luna Is The Most Important Read for Teens Since Catcher In the Rye

Luna Book CoverTwo years ago, my classmates and I talked about current gender roles in one of my social science class. The teacher asked the class if it was okay for boys to play with dolls, girls to ask out boys, and so on. For both questions listed, the majority of the class let out a resounding “No”, even though no one could really say why. (Best explanation: “It’s weird, okay?”) Even though this class is in twenty-first century America, where women can vote and girls do better than boys in most academic subjects, defined gender roles are still alive and well. If some teens can’t even comprehend a boy playing with Bratz dolls, then they probably can’t wrap their heads around a girl born in a boy’s body, or vice versa.

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Wolf Moon: A Kelly Grazi Novel

  “Hi. My name is Grazi Kelly. There are things I know are true and things that I never would have guessed. First, demons and witches exist and they are evil. Second, the world is up for grabs and the witches are getting their minions ready. Third, I’m a werewolf and it’s my job to stop them.”
High school sophomore Grazi Kelly leads an ordinary life in the suburbs of New Jersey helping her grandmother with chores and attending Catholic school. Things are pretty good except for her bullying cousin and the rest of the obnoxious cheer team. Then things take a frightening turn when the night of the full moon arrives and the bodies start piling up. Grazi learns that she is different in ways she never expected. She finds herself torn between Sebastian, the school soccer star and Ronan, a foreign exchange student who shares her secret. She must uncover the identity behind the mysterious attacker, but is she ready for the entire truth?

This book was perfect until Ronan showed up. I liked the pace and the plot. Grazi was funny and relatable and I liked Angela a lot as well. It’s also a pretty cool idea that these werewolves are protecting the church instead of being hunted by them, and as far as I know that’s also very original However, I had some problems with Ronan. He’s usually not a bad character. In fact, I’m glad they introduced another teenage werewolf and not just because it creates a love triangle. He’s also someone that Grazi can fully relate to and turn to.

But Ronan’s weird.

His character can be inconsistent. A lot of the time he acts and talks like a normal teenage boy. But there are times when he’s completely formal, as if he belongs to another century, and that’s never really addressed. It annoyed me. Grazi can also be annoying when she’s around him, like when she blamed herself for things that happened before she was born and had to apologize to Ronan because she made Ronan tell her. She deserved to know since it was her past and she shouldn’t feel sorry that she asked him about it, nor should she have a huge inner monologue about how she’s a terrible person. This is one of the few instances where Ronan has more common sense than Grazi and he’s as perplexed as I was about why she had to apologize. So I’m definitely rooting for Sebby in this book.

Any fans of Twilight and teenage supernatural romance in general will love this great story.

You can get the story for just a dollar at Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/413432?ref=KaraSkinner (If you use this link, some of your money will get donated to charity. Learn more here.)

Sun and Moon (Netgalley Review)

“In order to stop Predilion, I’ve chosen you, Emily and Ashe, as my champions. I’ve had to use the energy of the stone to trap him here. The power then had to be shifted to a new energy source. The two of you were born to become that energy source.”

Emily and Ashe knew only two things: neither of them had been born with a natural magic in a world where magic ratings counted for everything, and now, after an explosion in the city, they were the only two people with magic and they have to stop an evil Creator named Predilion who has escaped his bonds and intends to destroy everything in the his path. Of course, that’s before they discovered that they are Creators themselves, and need to stop whatever is slowly killing their worlds and many other worlds.

I was actually disappointed in this story. I mean, I know it’s a Netgalley book, so it’s not the final, but this story was definitely a lot less polished that a lot of other ARCs I’ve read. Aside from the formatting issues, the dialogue between Ashe and Emily felt flat and canned and there didn’t seem to be nearly as much character development as there should have been, especially for Blaze and Raelyn, who I felt were kind of dismissed as being unimportant halfway through the story even though they both had seemed very important before then. For instance, why was Raelyn nice to Ashe but not to Emily? We already knew what life was like for those with low rankings, but what about higher ones? After all, Raelyn didn’t have a happy life either even though she was a level six and came from a wealthy family. I really hope this isn’t the last we see of either of them, but who knows? I felt like this story was one big free write wehre the author kept pushing the characters into new conflicts because the word quota hasn’t been met yet.

This story is also Insta-love, between Ashe and Emily, so I’m not prone to like it anyway. After all, it feels like a cheat. Again, I wasn’t reading the official book, but unless it got seriously polished up, I probably wouldn’t recommend it to anyone.

A Big Ball of Wibbly-Wobbly, Timey-Wimey…. Stuff (The Here and Now)

For Prenna, having the cute, nice and very smart and funny guy at her school like her isn’t a good thing. In fact, it could be her death sentence for both her and the boy. After all, she is from the future and is most likely carrying diseases that no one has immunity to, and as long as she is in the strict community of time travelers who track her every move, she has to watch her back to make sure she doesn’t disappear like others in her community who fall a little out of line. But when she receives information that could change the future from the hellish place she left to a place better, she knows she has to act, and hopefully save the boy she loves.

Definitely a good book. I liked all of the main characters as well as the plot. I also found it really relevant to what’s going on today, and what could happen if we keep destroying the environment. However, like most time travel stories, I get super confused easily. While this book kept the time-wimey stuff (my apologies, Stephen Moffat) to a minimum, some things still didn’t make sense to me. How did her father get that drawing when Ethan hadn’t given it to him? Are we supposed to infer that Anthony Balthos gave him the drawing? This was particularly frustrating because I really wanted Prenna’s dad to pull some sort of miraculous resurrection but instead there’s an incomplete explanation for the mystery of the drawing. And how did Anthony get the drawing in the first place? In the future he came from none of that had happened, so Prenna didn’t come back in time. There were a few others, but these were the most confusing. It’s hard for me to follow different and intersecting realities at once, so if someone can explain how this makes sense, then please, leave a comment ;-).

All in all, a fun read. Does it make the top ten books I’ve read this year? Probably not. This might not be in the top ten I’ve reviewed on here. But it’s definitely worth reading, for both the action-packed plot and the forbidden romance between Ethan and Prenna.

http://www.indiebound.org/book/