Rating: 4 out of 5
Ok, guys, I have a confession to make: I cheated. Cheated on I, Claudius, that is. I'm usually not someone who juggles multiple books at a time, but I fully support book-sluttiness (it's the best kind!). It's not that I, Claudius is not a good book, because I have every intention on finishing it. But I'm sure you all have that author who when he/she publishes something new, you drop whatever you're doing to read it.
That's how I am with Meg Cabot, queen of teen fiction. After a quick calculation, I've found that I have read almost half of her entire bibliography, which currently clocks in at over 70 books! I don't think I've ever read 34 novels of any other authors--I mean, I have a whole shelf dedicated to Cabot!
Why do I love her so much? Cabot's like cotton candy to me: She's not a writer of heavy substance, but she's light and sweet, and her words just melt in your mouth. I can't ignore cotton candy when the Fresno Fair rolls around every October, and I can't help but cheat on books when a new Cabot novel is released.
Underworld is Cabot's second work in her Abandon trilogy. (You can find my review of Abandon here). The book starts off with Pierce Oliviera waking up from a nightmare, only to find herself in the Underworld with death deity John Hayden. In this modern adaptation of the Persephone and Hades myth, Pierce must save her cousin Alex from the Furies, who can inhabit the living earth by possessing weak-willed people--such as Pierce's own grandmother, who as a Fury, has been secretly trying to kill her ever since she was a young child.
Along the way, Pierce learns about John's dark past and meets his crew-mates who assist him in sorting the dead and battling the Furies. She also struggles with her own teenage hormones, dealing with the temptation of cohabiting with her boyfriend, who just so happens to be Lord of the Underworld.
I absolutely love this ancient Greek myth, and this version balances new and old pretty well. Pierce and John have great sexual chemistry, and the story-line was intriguing and suspenseful enough for me to finish this book in three days. True to form, Cabot produces another sugary read, and fans of light-hearted romantic reads will enjoy this sequel.
I also appreciate Cabot for addressing sex in a way that is not condescending to teens, and is also smart and safe. One of the first things Pierce asked was whether she could get pregnant by a death god--oh, how I wish Bella Swan could have been that thoughtful before she got knocked up with a vampire baby! Cabot is highly aware of the faults of other young adult bestsellers, like Twilight, and ensures that her readers are aware of the consequences of their decisions.
However, Cabot is not without faults. People who need heartier reads might find Underworld formulaic and cheesy at times. Also, although Cabot takes a more liberal stance when it comes to sexuality, I found the descriptions of her gay characters stereotypical. I knew that the cemetery sexton Mr. Smith was homosexual without him having to wear pink all the time! I'm sure the gay male community would appreciate representations in media that don't have to do with pastel colors, flamboyant speech patterns, or cliche occupations like interior designers or hairdressers.
Other than that, I would recommend Cabot's Abandon trilogy, and I'm looking forward to the last sequel Awaken next year. And I promise to return to I, Claudius--no more cheating!
So are you monogamous or polygamous when it comes to reading? What books are your cotton candy? Send me your comments!