CS's Reviews > Underworld

Underworld by Meg Cabot
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May 03, 2012

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Read in May, 2012

I love Meg Cabot's writing. Love, love, love. Her books are clever and funny, and her leading heroines are sympathetic and, if not always the smartest cookie in the box, at least they are likeable and able to catch one or two clues.

Which is why it is so disappointing to read UNDERWORLD.

I admit I haven't read ABANDON, the first book in the series; when it came out I was on a book budget and I never did go back and find it. But I was thrilled beyond belief to receive UNDERWORLD in my RT welcome bag. I couldn't wait to dive in.

Alas.

I was confused from the get-go: Pierce talks about her near-death (or actual death) experience, then all of a sudden she wakes up in the Underworld. I had to go back and re-read a few times to get the transition and orient myself (although I suppose I felt how Pierce feels when John whips her between worlds, so perhaps it served a purpose.) There a lot of flashbacks, and even flash forwards, and I never felt anchored to a time and place. I had some confusion as to how the Diamond of Persephone works: there were a few times when it warned Pierce of danger, but then the danger seemed to go away without revealing itself. Overall, the plot never seemed to gel for me; it was a series of hop-skipping from location to location, for what seemed no other purpose except so the heroine could learn bits of back story. So that put quite the damper on my readerly enthusiasm.

But there are things to like about the book, which is why I gave it three stars. Even though this book is less sparkling and witty than the other Cabot books I've read, there are some genuinely funny lines and smart observations. And as always, Cabot excels at depicting teens (aside from the main hero & heroine, more on that later.) I really liked Pierce's interactions with her friend Kayla and her cousin Alex. Both relationships, even though barely on the page, felt real and multi-layered. Even the "A-wing" characters of Seth and Farah felt real.

And other supporting characters are also terrific, from Mr. Smith the cemetery sexton and his partner, Patrick, to Pierce's Uncle Chris, to John's Underworld crew. Each one is three-dimensional, with their own quirks and speech patterns.

And I loved how Cabot worked 19th century history into the book.

However, I do think this book suffers from "second book in a trilogy-itis." It's so obviously the filler in a Set Up the Bad Guys/Take Down the Bad Guys sandwich. I suppose we learn more about the Underworld, John, and his friends, plus it sets up the mortal bad guys on Isla Huesos, but all the revelations felt forced, instead of organic to the story.

And speaking of forced revelations, Pierce is one TSTL heroine (well, I guess in a way she didn't live, so perhaps she's just fulfilling her destiny.) She continually leaps before she looks, gets caught in one of John's obfuscations, forgives him, then does it again. It's enough to make you root for the Furies and hope they finally bump her off for good (although, again, how does that work if John is the Lord of the Dead - couldn't he just keep her shade around? Cabot is very mum on what actually happens to the dead after they reach John's realm, except that they are given blankets because they are cold - can you be cold when you are dead?? - and put in boats to some mysterious elsewhere.)

And speaking of John:

Dear Meg (and Meg's publishers),

You are a very talented writer. You write entire rings, if not planets and universes, around Stephenie Meyer. And your most stunning attribute is your fantastic voice.

So please, for the love of anything you hold dear, STOP WITH THE TWILIGHT NONSENSE AND THE DEPICTION OF "TWUE WUV" AS ONLY BEING POSSIBLE BETWEEN A MALE WHO OBSESSIVELY STALKS, LIES TO THE FEMALE, AND DRAGS HER FROM HER FAMILY; AND A FEMALE TOO STUPID TO ASK A FEW PERTINENT QUESTIONS ALONG THE WAY BECAUSE, LIKE, THE GUY HAS A HOT BOD SO IT'S OKAY TO GIVE UP HER FAMILY, HER FRIENDS, AND HER FUTURE FOR HIM.

Because I know the Meg Cabot who writes her blog doesn't believe that crap for one minute.

Sorry for the all-cap yelling, but I'm THAT disappointed in y'all. It feels like you are chasing the audience's bucks, instead of chasing a story you really want to tell. Besides, you can't catch lightning in a bottle twice (well, okay, maybe you can if you count Fifty Shades of Grey, but that's a whole 'nother head-scratching ball of wax.)

Sincerely,

Concerned Reader

P.S. Although, you got me at the end and I will probably pick up the third book in the series. Well played, publishing people, well played. But I'm still vastly disappointed and annoyed at the relationship. Suffice to say I'll be reading for everything BUT Pierce and John.
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Comments (showing 1-1 of 1) (1 new)

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Chereace I completely agree with you! read my review and you'll see why. I can't understand how reading all the lying and deception in the relationship is going to make me like John...or Piece for that matter...


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