Did you ever finish a book all the way through, but by the end you still weren’t really sure what you thought about it? That’s how I felt about Abandon by Meg Cabot. I wanted to love the book. So many other reviewers loved it, and I always feel like I’m missing something, some major point that has gone over my head, when I just don’t love it as much as they do. The premise is great- “Though she tries returning to the life she knew before the accident, Pierce can’t help but feel at once a part of this world, and apart from it. Yet she’s never alone . . . because someone is always watching her. Escape from the realm of the dead is impossible when someone there wants you back” (from Amazon). I loved The Goddess Test, which was also a retelling of the Persephone myth (one of my favorite Greek myths), so I thought for sure this one would be awesome too. But it wasn’t. It wasn’t awful either. I didn’t love it, I didn’t hate it. If someone asked me how I felt about it, I would probably have to say “I have no idea.”
Throughout Abandon, I found myself confused at times because of the way Pierce jumps from the present to the near past to the slightly further past to the really long ago past back to the slightly further past and then into the present again. I felt like I was on a rollercoaster, my head whipping back and forth trying to figure out what time-frame our previously dead heroine was referencing at any given time. (Note- I’ve only ever been on one rollercoaster and I blocked out the experience, I’m assuming that is what they are like!)
What I did figure out is that the plot is completely driven by the past, as nothing really happens in the present aside from John popping up every so often and throwing things or making enigmatic statements. A lot of times it seemed like something major was going to happen, but they never really panned out. Why talk about the popular kids coming over to build a coffin at Pierce’s house if it never leads to anything? Why talk about the troubles that Pierce’s cousin is having if nothing ever comes of that? It seemed to me that there was a lot of filler that really never led anywhere. I would much rather have heard more about the hour Pierce spent in the underworld and seen that fleshed out a little more than read about people who never really end up mattering.
Speaking of the Underworld, early in the story, I’m led to believe that she spent months, or at least weeks, there. The way Pierce talks about “him,” it seems as though she spent a little more time than an hour with him, and once I found out (this is not a spoiler, if you pay better attention than I did, you would have known this in the first chapter), everything she said and did after that lost all meaning to me. Who acts that way for someone that they spent a mere hour with? Well, not counting the far distant past, but that just adds a creepy element to it that I don’t even want to think about.
But despite all these flaws, I did find myself caring about what happened to Pierce. She’s not the most likable character, and she over-used certain phrases way too often, and in ways that really don’t make sense. But she did seem to have good intentions. Since this is part of a trilogy, I’m going to give Ms. Cabot the benefit of the doubt and assume she has a plan to really tie together all the very loose and frayed ends in the next installment. Sometimes I think trilogies are either better read all at once, or should have just been combined into one book in the first place because they don’t stand well on their own. Abandon, in my opinion, is one that doesn’t stand well alone. We’ll see how it stands with it’s second and third part.