Book Report: Our highly scientific analysis of a book, from the characters to the writing style to the swoon. See More...

Abandon All Hope* Ye Who Enter Here

Erin reviews Abandon by Her Royal FYAness, Meg Cabot.

*All hope that you aren't going to totally fall in love with a dead dude, that is.

Abandon All Hope* Ye Who Enter Here

BOOK REPORT for Abandon (Abandon Book 1) by Meg Cabot

Cover Story: A Long Time In the Making
BFF Charm: Yay!
Swoonworthy Scale: 7
Talky Talk:Straight Up With a Twist
Bonus Factors: Mythology, Atmosphere, The Afterlife, Meg Cabot
Anti-Bonus Factor: Trilogy
Relationship Status: Book, I Saw You From Across a Crowded Church . . .

Cover Story: A Long Time In the Making

When Posh and I saw Meg Cabot speak at the Texas Book Fest last year, she spent some time discussing this cover, and how it came to be. See, Meg didn't like math class. In fact, she kind of hated the hell out of it. (I'm convinced that, were I her classmate, we could have created an instant symbiotic friendship, like Liz Lemon and Jack Donaghy, in which I did all her math homework for her and in turn she did all my creative writing assignments for me. Ugh, creative writing assignments, I HATE YOU. Obvs this makes me the Jack Donaghy in this relationship.)

So she did what most kids do when they're bored in class: she created elaborate geno- and phenotype Punnet squares featuring her and her current crush's genetic material drew doodles! One of which was a sketch that looked remarkably like the cover of Abandon. (She said all this in her speech. I didn't divine this information, or anything.)

I mean, how cool is that? You draw a picture, then become a famous author, and then have the power to be, like, "Bitches, put my drawing on the cover of this book!" I mean, I think Dave Barry does that with his books too, but, whatever. I still think it's cool.

But even if I didn't know the back story of this cover, I'd still think this cover was a long time coming. Sure, there are plenty of half-tilted emo faces and Angelina Jolie lookalikes on the covers of YA novels these days, but how often is a cover just dead sexy (ha ha, my joke is funny)?

The Deal:

Pierce is not having a good high school experience, y'all. She's just moved from Connecticut (and her attendant NYC private school) to a tiny island in Florida called Isla Huesos, where her marine biologist mother was born and raised. She has to contend with a cantankerous grandmother, a sad uncle who has just been released from prison, a weird-ass public school in which she has been enrolled as a "Troubled Student," and the fact that everyone knows who she is, due to the fact that her dad, um, might be the CEO of a company that maybe caused a massive oil spill through their completely piss-poor attitude towards safety so he's always on the news acting Gravely Concerned But Optimistic (when not sailing around on his yacht, I suppose) and hoping everyone will just forget about the fact that his company ruined an entire section of the ocean but WE HAVEN'T BP. Oh. Sorry. I guess I'm still not over that.

Oh, and ALSO, Pierce has to deal with the fact that her parents are probably going to get divorced. Not because of the oil spill, although that's not exactly a good thing, but because two years ago, Pierce's dad let her die.

Oh, did I not mention that part? Yeah. Pierce died at age 15. But instead of running to the light and living forever in happy clappy land where the rivers flow with butter pecan ice cream and a young John Lennon tells you, "Gosh, Erin, I just find you so interesting and I've been waiting for you forever. Want to make out?," which is my version of Heaven, Pierce finds herself on the shores of the River Acheron, awaiting her fate to board a ferry to her afterlife. And that's where she sees John . . .

And that's where I'll end this little summary, because I don't want to spoil anyone, and shizz gets so crazyballs in this book that I cannot tread lightly enough!

BFF Charm: Yay!!

OBVS. If Meg Cabot ever had a heroine I didn't like, I'd probably fall over in shock and then find myself at the River Acheron. Pierce is witty and cynical, which is just how I like my heroines. Mostly because I am witty and cynical, so I can picture myself living their adventures!!

Plus, I mean, the girl's been through a lot. So I think you'll find she's pretty well adjusted, considering.

Swoonworthy Scale: 7

I think this is the first time in history that I have not awarded a 10 on the swoon scale to a Meg Cabot book, but HEAR ME OUT. This is book one in a trilogy. This is like the foreplay to the main event. (High school readers, foreplay is when you . . . never mind. You'll find out. Probably not until at least junior year of college, though, poor little things.) So while I TOTALLY felt the swoon and the spark and may have spent at least one passage screaming "OH MY GOD, SHUT UP AND KISS HIM. IF YOU DON'T, I WILL BE GLAD TO!!," I'm pretty sure there's going to be even MORE swoon coming down the pike.

Basically, John is earning this rating of 7 JUST BY EXISTING IN THIS WORLD (or not, as the case may be).

Talky Talk: Straight Up With a Twist

This book's narrative was a bit of a departure from the Meg Cabot books I've read in the past (which is almost all of them). The dialogue was as fresh and sharp as ever, and Pierce's inner thoughts still made me laugh out loud, but the narrative itself takes quite a few twists and turns. And I loved it. Some people may not like layered narratives that bounce in and out of present day, but that's a favorite novel device of mine. Plus, I think a twisty narrative makes for greater intrigue and edge-of-your-seat-nail-biting breathlessness.

Put it this way: if you read Jellicoe Road and hated the way it jumped around, then this is not the book for you. If you read Jellicoe Road and thought, "I love getting little bits and pieces of the puzzle! I'm going to recommend this to all my friends!" then you should read this book!

If you haven't read Jellicoe Road because you think YA books are lame than ohmygodwhyareyoureadingthisblog?

Bonus Factor: Mythology

Big ups for the myth of Persephone! I'm pretty sure I am not the only quasi-goth here who was OBSESSED with the myth of Persephone in junior high and high school and favored it over most, if not all, of the other Greek myths. I mean, it was just so cool! She gets stolen! To the Underworld! And her mom laments and causes eternal winter! But then Hades strikes a deal with Zeus and returns Persephone for most of the year but keeps her down in the Underworld for one season a year and that's why it snows, boys and girls. The snow is Demeter's ICE TEARS, Y'ALL.

And even though, looking back, it is, you know, not exactly a great myth to favor, considering Persephone is abducted, raped, and finally tricked into staying in the Underworld, and I'm not entirely sure why I love it as much as I do, it's still a favorite of mine. What I like about Abandon is that it takes care to mention that, you know, a guy abducting you and forcing you to live in his underground lair is NOT OKAY, even if the swoonometer is at 7.

Also, am I the only person who still pauses before eating pomegranate seeds and thinks, "Um, where were these sourced? ARE THEY FROM THE UNDERWORLD? Oh. Arizona? Nope, still too close for comfort. PASS."

Bonus Factor: Atmosphere

It's been a while since I've read a richly detailed book. Most YA books are plot, plot, plot, and I'm not complaining, because I'm a get to the point kind of girl (what can I say? I didn't learn my lesson in junior year of college). But it's nice to slow down and sink into some nice descriptions, and this book had plenty. I felt like I could feel the humid air of Isla Huesos pressing down (well, considering I live in Texas, I pretty much could) and smell the fear and smoke in the Underworld. This book is visceral, y'all!

Bonus Factor: The Afterlife

Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today, to get through this thing called life. Electric word, life, it means forever, and that's a mighty long time! But I'm here to tell you, there's something else. The afterworld.

A world of never-ending happiness, where you can always see the sun. Day or night.

Okay, but in THIS BOOK? Things are much harder than in Prince's Afterworld. In this book? You're on your own.

Bonus Factor: Meg Cabot

WHAT. I can make this a bonus factor. I CAN. IT'S MY REVIEW; YOU CAN'T TELL ME WHAT TO DO.

But I mean it, actually! There are some authors that you already know you are going to enjoy reading. Meg Cabot could write a series of Helpful Household Hints about, like, sieving gravy and getting out ring around the collar, and I'd lean forward and be like, "Tell me more, and also I will purchase this book in hardback." Thank God she hasn't done that, though, because I really hate gravy.

Anti-Bonus Factor: Trilogy

So, one of my Most Awesome Skills is my ability to forget something, five minutes after it's told to me. This is a totally useful skill to have, because it allows me to reread books and rewatch movies ENDLESSLY. Because after about three months I've forgotten everything but the main parts!

UNFORTCH, this also means that when someone says something, like, I don't know, "I'm coming out with a new trilogy! The first book will be called Abandon!" what my brain hears is "I've got a book called Abandon coming out! Let's order another martini!" So then I read Abandon and got about halfway through and had that sinking feeling - you know the one, it's similar to the one you get when you start baking something and realize that you're missing ONE ingredient and either have to go to the store or scrap your entire batter - the "OH SHIT THIS IS A TRILOGY!" feeling. You know what happens in the first book of a trilogy? NOT SEX OR PLOT RESOLUTION, I'll tell you that! I mean, sure, trilogies are awesomesauce. WHEN THEY ARE COMPLETE. Can you imagine what would have happened if George Lucas had decided not to finish his Star Wars trilogy and just left it at A New Hope? We would be shipping Luke and Leia and we would have never met Lando Calrissian, the smoothest mofo in the galaxy! And what about The Godfather? What if The Godfather Trilogy had ended with Godfather I? A nation's people might never have learned about the crushing despair that comes from watching a once-brilliant film franchise decline into two hours of Sofia Coppola screeching!

I mean, don't get me wrong. I am SUPER GLAD I'll be spending two more books with Pierce and John and the assorted cast of Isla Huesos. I am just having to fight the urge to keep Meg Cabot locked in a plastic bubble until the next two books are finished.

Casting Call:

I haven't actually come up with an appropriate actress to play Pierce. This is partly due to a dearth of young actresses of Latin descent who haven't been Disneyfied, and partly because I want some more time to watch her develop before sticking a face on her. Though I will take your suggestions.

The rest of the cast was pretty easy:

Ethan Peck as John

Yeah, I know John is meant to be a bit bigger, physically, but Ethan Peck was born to play the sexy, temperamental, wounded Guardian of the Underworld.

Also, I mean, if there's anyone who can make you forget that he's technically, you know, dead, it's Peck The Latter.

Matt Lauria as Seth

And if there's anyone who can make you think, "aww, high school football players from small towns whose parents are total assholes aren't so bad," it's Matt Lauria.

Diego Gonzalez Boneta as Alex

Pierce's cousin Alex has some concerns of his own, considering his dad's been in jail most of his life. Can you bring it, Diego? Can you take your shirt off while you're bringing it?

Relationship Status: Book, I Saw You From Across a Crowded Church . . .

And I told my friend Posh, "I need to get with that book." And she was all, "Not if I get with him first, girl" and I was all, "STEP OFF, THAT BOOK IS MINE." So I got up the nerve to approach the book's mom and I was all, "Can I take your book out on a date?" And she was super nice and said yes.

And then the book and I HIT IT OFF, Y'ALL. I mean, I was pretty sure I was going to love it anyway, cause it comes from a good family and its oldest sister is my BFF, but I was NOT expecting all the sexual tension! And it kept me up all night long, telling me these awesome stories about what happens when you die and the sexy people you might hope to meet there. We totally spent a couple of hours trying to unravel a mystery and I thought we were REALLY falling in love.

But then the book had to leave! And it said it couldn't hang out with me again until, like, AUGUST or something!! At first I was upset, because I just wanted to be with this book all the time, but it assured me that when it got back from its vacation, it'd be even swoonier and offer more mystery to sort out. So I'm begrudgingly allowing this book time to recoup and come back with more, but in the meantime, I can't sleep, I keep trying to drown my anxiety with carbs and vodka,and I may never be able to love again. SO HURRY UP, BOOK.

FTC Full Disclosure: I received my review copy from Meg Cabot. I received neither money nor cocktails for writing this review (dammit!). Abandon will be released April 26th.

Erin Callahan's photo About the Author: Erin is loud, foul-mouthed, an unrepentant lover of trashy movies and believes that champagne should be an every day drink. When she isn't drowning in a sea of engineers for whom Dilbert is still uproariously funny, she's writing about books, tv, the cult of VC Andrews and more.
K