The Abandon Trilogy by Meg Cabot (Point Publishing)
Abandon, 2011 (bought copy)
Underworld, 2012 (ARC from Blog-O-Rama - thank you!)
Awaken, 2013 (ARC loaned from Literary Lushes - thank you!)
Meg Cabot takes readers to the land of the dead in her Abandon Trilogy, a reimagining of the Persephone myth. While I usually don't review a series as a whole, this time I feel like I can make an exception. This blog started after this trilogy did, and now having completed the whole series, I feel that it's best to look at all three of these books together as one unit.
The premise: Pierce was 15 years old when she died. She arrived in the Underworld and reconnected with John - a death deity she first met when she was a child and her soul mate - but she escaped and came back to life. The trilogy follows their romance when they meet again 2 years later and her struggle with becoming queen of the Underworld and spending eternity there, being targeted by evil spirits known as Furies, and trying to keep her family safe.
Now I love Meg Cabot's writing generally. The Princess Diaries books felt like they had been written just for me, I adore many of her other YA novels, and as I've grown up I've enjoyed the handful of her adult novels that I've read. However, if I'm honest, this series was a tough one for me. In series, there is of course an over-arching saga that ties the books together, but to me a strong series means that each installment has an arc of its own. Here is where the Abandon Trilogy struggles.
If read in quick succession, the story makes more sense. Abandon is mostly backstory, explaining the connection between Pierce and John. Underworld is a typical second book, filling in more details about the world, introducing more new characters but seeming to leave a lot of the old ones we just got to know in the first book behind. Then finally Awaken brings back things we haven't thought of since book one, mashes them up with plot points and characters from book two, and thus wraps up (mostly) the story of the lord of the Underworld and his beloved.
The premise is interesting, but to me this is a case of a trilogy that is actually one book drawn out over three books. With some editing and condensing, this could have been a really fantastic stand-alone novel in my mind but as a series, it didn't quite hit the spot for me. What I can say positively is that this is a trilogy that mostly redeemed itself in the third book. Much of the tension in the relationship between the protagonists stems from lack of communication, but at least much of that is resolved by Awaken's conclusion. Old characters and newer characters blended together to form a colorful and quirky cast. Not everything was fully explained, but the main points were so I was mostly satisfied.
Overall, if you are a fan of Cabot's and haven't read this series yet, borrow it from your library if the mood strikes. It wasn't my cup of tea, but this trilogy was the reason Meg Cabot came to town a few years ago and I got to meet this rockstar author I've looked up to for a very long time. She even declared that I was the best librarian ever! For that I am eternally grateful.
Comments welcome, and, as always, happy reading.
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