Abandon by Meg Cabot (Abandon book 1)

Abandon by Meg Cabot

A review by Nalini Haynes

Abandon introduces Pierce Oliveria, a 17-year-old girl who, with her mother, has just moved to Isla Huesos in Florida, USA. Pierce’s mother grew up there so they have extended family: a cousin, Alex, who befriends Pierce at school, Uncle Chris, Alex’s father, who spent most of Alex’s life in jail, and an overbearing Grandma.

Pierce’s parents are dealing with the aftermath of a bitter divorce. Pierce fell in the pool, drowned and died while Dad was oblivious, yelling at someone on the phone. Meanwhile, Pierce’s Mom arrived home, rescued Pierce and started resuscitation; the first Dad knew of the drama was when he heard the ambulance pull up.

Since Pierce’s death she’s had problems engaging with her studies, former friends called her crazy and life has generally been difficult. Gradually a deeper story unfolds.

In the first third of this novel I wondered if this was really the first in the series: Abandon begins like a sequel making disjointed references to what has gone before. Gradually the story unfolded as I became acquainted with Pierce and her life story until I felt comfortable that I understood what was going on.

Pierce seems almost too good to be true with her focus on other people and yet she’s weird with it too, a slightly odd combination putting her in the fringe group as a new, formerly-expelled girl in high school. The usual high school dynamics emerge between the athletic, good-looking ‘in’ crowd and the ‘D-wingers’ (those in the New Pathways program for troubled students).

Hades in Abandon  goes by the name of John Hayden, a moody 19-year-old, who’s had the job for over 150 years, dresses in black and has violent tendencies, including killing people – as long as he thinks they deserve it. John’s impulsive violence frightens Pierce in the beginning yet she finds him attractive; this ‘attractive bad boy’ trope is problematic at best, encouraging young women to accept and stay in abusive relationships.

Historical research and mythical parallels openly referenced within the story are what set Abandon above the standard high school romantic drama. Pierce is Persephone in this modern tale where Pierce’s mother, like Persephone’s, rescued her from Hades. Literally.

While I find the bad boy trope difficult, Pierce more actively shapes her own destiny than some other YA paranormal romance heroines. Overtly using Grecian mythology with references to Dante’s Inferno gave Abandon added depth. Once enough pieces of the jigsaw were laid out that I could see the story forming, I found Abandon to be mostly enjoyable, fast-paced and engaging even though high school romantic dramas aren’t usually my preference.

4 out of 5 stars.