U for Underworld – Abandon, by Meg Cabot (fiction)

The underworld, the afterlife…
We always wonder what it’s like, after we die,
but Pierce knows.

If she hadn’t tried to save the dying bird, she wouldn’t have fallen into the near-freezing water, wouldn’t have drowned, wouldn’t have flatlined in the emergency room.

And finding herself in the Underworld, seeing the young man she met in a cemetery as a child, realizing that she’s dead… Pierce just can’t stay, and somehow she escapes back to the world of the living. But she’s never completely here.

Well-known author Meg Cabot retells the Persephone myth with a dark, modern twist in this first book of the Abandon trilogy. Book two, Underworld, will be published May 8, 2012, so hurry to read book 1 at your local library or independent bookstore first.

Book info: Abandon (Abandon, book 1)/ Meg Cabot. Point Books, 2011. [author’s website] [publisher site] [book trailer]

My Recommendation: A new start in a tropical paradise…that should cheer up Pierce, right? Somehow, she’s not recovering from her near-death experience very well. Part of her heart must have stayed in the Underworld, with him.

So Mom brought her to Isla Huesos, where she grew up. New house, new school, her uncle and cousin and grandmother nearby – living among the Florida sea breezes and bright flowers of “the Island of Bones” should help her readjust to being alive, to fully recover from being clinically dead after that accident two years ago, to escape from the strange things that happened at her last school.

People ask if she saw a bright light as she died, but not about her seeing John in the Afterlife or escaping from death itself. They don’t know that Pierce met handsome, dangerous John Hayden during her childhood when she tried to revive a dying bird at her grandfather’s funeral in Isla Huesos and succeeded or that he’s given her a necklace that warns her of danger approaching.

Isla Huesos High School has an odd tradition of “Coffin Night,” celebrating a hurricane so fierce that it lifted all the coffins from the cemetery. But this year, Coffin Night has been cancelled because someone has broken the cemetery gates and overturned gravestones. When John caught up with Pierce in the cemetery last night, he didn’t think that they’d be attacked by dark forces – striking back did a bit of damage, but they’d escaped, leaving Pierce’s necklace behind.

When the cemetery sexton shows up at school with her necklace darkening in its danger mode, Pierce has to meet with him later, despite John’s warnings. Does Mr. Smith know about John or is he just trying to frighten the newcomer? Why does her mother warn her about some local families and not others? Why are the storms strengthening so early in the season? Why does Pierce feel drawn to return to the cemetery again and again?

This eerie retelling of the Persephone myth takes readers to the Island of Bones and beyond, as strong winds and stronger feelings take Pierce far beyond herself. (One of 5,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com) Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

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