Abandon by Meg Cabot(Macmillan Children’s Books)

Lately, there seems to be a spate of modern adaptations and retellings of myths and fairy tales emerging in the world of literature. New takes on old stories, are certainly nothing new, but 2012 just seems to be a year filled with explosive new versions of these timeless tales.

I, being a huge fan of the above-mentioned genres, am definitely not complaining.

From retellings of Beauty and the Beast and Achilles and The Trojan War, to various takes on Russian fairy tales and my ultimate favourite, Hades and Persephone, I’ve been soaking up all the refreshing new takes with wild abandon.

Of course, you can imagine my glee when I first heard that Meg Cabot has also decided to jump on board and put her own spin on the Hades and Persephone myth.

Having never read any of her books before (tragic, I know), I wasn’t actually quite sure what to expect when I first started reading, but luckily for me, Abandon turned out to be quite an interesting read.

I suppose the first place I should start is by saying that I really love Meg Cabot’s writing. She’s got such an easy, readable style that it’s hard not to get sucked into this story, and chances are if you’re a first time reader of Cabot’s novels, you’ll probably enjoy this one as much as I did too.

The first in a trilogy, Abandon tells the story of Pierce, a young girl, who after being revived from death, is never quite the same again. During the time of her death, Pierce manages to find herself in the Underworld, where she meets the dark and dangerous John Hayden.

Both terrified of him and intrigued by him, Pierce manages to escape and proceeds to move back to the island that her mother grew up on.

Unfortunately for her, it turns out that not only does John still watch over her, but darker and much deadlier forces are swirling around, waiting for the perfect opportunity to harm her,

Soon Pierce finds that perhaps the one place she fears the most, is the one place that can probably offer her the very protection that she needs; it’s just too bad that no one can protect her from falling for the dark deity that resides in the Underworld.

While not without its share of flaws, Abandon makes for an interesting read.

One of the most important things readers should probably know is that this novel, while loosely based on the myth around Persephone, is definitely not a fully fledged adaptation of it. What Cabot does is use the basic fundamentals of the story, incorporates it into Abandon and makes it her own completely.

Still an adaptation of sorts, just not a very traditional one.

Pierce with her save-the-world tendencies and John with his dark and broody persona, are both characters that, while likeable enough, aren't fully fleshed out yet. I suspect that this is deliberate on Cabot's part and works well as a ploy; because at the end of the day, John and Pierce's story is one the reader becomes invested in.

Whatever we don't know now, Meg has guaranteed that we'll want to keep reading in the next book.

The relationship between John and Pierce can best be described as being stormy and tempestuous. Told through flashbacks, we are given a glimpse into how they first met, right up until how she ended up in the Underworld.

We actually don't get to see a lot of John in this novel, but when we do, he tends to leave us wanting more. He is made of mystery and secrets, and it's that aura that attracts both Pierce and the reader's attention.

Her perception of him tends to leave the reader a tad bit frustrated because the part of her that fears him tends to cloud her judgment. When she eventually does see beyond his fiercely brooding nature, we finally get a glimpse of the man that hides beneath the aloof exterior. Still, there's so much that we don't know, and I for one, am looking forward to getting some answers in book two.

What made up for the issues I had with this book, were the book's settings. Set on Isla Huesos, which translates to Island of Bones, the eeriness of the island mirrors the story perfectly. Think graveyards, and tropical thunder storms.  Add furies on a quest for vengeance, and events like coffin night and days celebrating the dead and you'll have a good idea of the kind of atmosphere you can expect.

All in all, Abandon is a great set-up, filled with enough interesting characters and an interesting back story to keep the reader intrigued. I'm definitely looking forward to Underworld, the next book in the trilogy, which is also out now.

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