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!

Blood Oath by Samantha Coville

They say the road to Hell is paved with good intentions, and even though some of the Sirens under Lord Christopher’s rule are just plain mean, a lot of them have good intentions that just go awry.

Christopher’s daughter, Raya, is a Halfling, or half human and half Siren. After no contact for several years, Raya is sent to Siren headquarters on her seventeenth birthday to spend the last year of her childhood with her dad. The problem is, she doesn’t want to go. She isn’t a fan of Sirens, and most Sirens don’t like Halflings. It gets worse for Christopher because he swore a Blood Oath to protect his only daughter, unbeknownst to Raya. Breaking a Blood Oath means fatal consequences, so he must do everything he can to keep her safe. Meanwhile, Raya joins a rebellion plotting to dethrone Christopher because of unjust laws. But it isn’t long before she realizes it isn’t going to be a peaceful rebellion.

For the most part, I liked this book. It kept me engaged almost all of the time, the romance between Raya and Drew was very sweet, and Raya’s friend, Kat, is really. But some parts of the book irritated me. Why would Raya even join the rebellion to begin with? She should have figured out that it wasn’t up to any good by looking at the other people in the group. I mean, she didn’t consider any of them particularly smart or friendly, with the exception of Tiana. She joined supposedly for Halfling’s rights, but did she really think they were going to lift the ban on Halflings in Headquarters when most of the people in the group hated her for being a Halfling? Also, considering the traumatic childhood even caused by Christopher’s carelessness, he should have figured out that his daughter would be less than thrill going to live with him for a year. Not to mention it was sprung on her seventeenth birthday, about fifteen minutes before she had to be in the car and ready to go. And I know he was trying to protect Raya by forbidding everyone from telling her about the Secret of the Halflings, but again with the road to Hell being paved with good intentions. It was asking for trouble. But aside from that, I thought it was a good book. The characters are well-developed and their interactions with each other are realistic and often funny. This would be a good book for just about any teenaged girl, especially those who like vampires and ghost stories.