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What if you died? And then, much to everyone's amazement, including your own, you suddenly came back? That's exactly what happened to 17-year-old Pierce Oliviera. It's called NDE, or "near death experience." But for Pierce it's just a little different because, you see, she actually was dead, deceased, no longer in this world.

I was flat line for over an hour. …once they warmed me up --- the defibrillators, along with a massive dose of epinephrine, brought me back…. That's what the doctors say, anyway. I have a different opinion

It's not uncommon for people to have some very major repercussions from this kind of experience, but Pierce seems to think she's not doing so badly --- at least for a while she believes that. Then some strange things start happening. Her parents divorce, she and her mother move to a little island off the coast of Florida called Isla Huesos, and she begins going to a new school where she's placed in "D-Wing," an area for kids who have problems. While she does have some anger management issues, it doesn't seem that serious. The most disturbing thing for her are the strange flashbacks from her experience two years ago and the unnerving appearances of a young man named John Hayden.

There is a small memory she has of this John Hayden from when she was just a little girl, having met him at her grandfather's funeral. Even her grandmother had made a comment about him, so she knows she was not the only one to see him. John has a dark, smoldering quality about him that's attractive, but at the same time she figures out that he's not "of this world." She recognizes that he's like some kind of guardian, that he has followed her from the other world --- always showing up when she needs him most and giving her a necklace. Despite all this, she totally distrusts him and begins feeling very "creeped out" when he's around. She throws a hot cup of tea in his face and literally chases him away.

And what about that mysterious necklace and all that stuff about how "it will protect you"? Protect her from what? As Pierce trudges through her days, she feels more smothered by him, and her anger issues escalate --- not just toward him but to others around her. She feels very much like an outsider because she's been some place none of them have been. No one can understand what she experienced. Even her friend Hannah doesn't really grasp it, and she feels estranged from her. Hannah's death is the true turning point for Pierce, who is brought out of her own self-absorption and into the reality of what is happening around her. What she finds is more frightening than anything she has experienced.

John is right; there are people who are out to harm Pierce. She really should have died, and when she didn't, things got upset. Who can she trust? Who would ever understand any of this? Even John doesn't seem to be able to connect it all. Then another very dear person in Pierce's life is murdered, and she knows her days are numbered, unable to outrun the mysterious "Furies" that are all around her. Behind the kind faces are damaged spirits that lie in wait. She has a lot to figure out and not much time. She has her Uncle Chris, cousin Alex (would he even get it?), mother, grandmother (something is wrong there) and the sexton from the cemetery. Are they really who they say they are? And on top of all of this, Pierce and John have shifted into a romantic relationship, at least for now. But this union has its distinct dangers, too.

Loosely based on the story of Persephone and Hades, Meg Cabot gives this tale some fresh twists. The popularity of using fairy tales and classic myths is turning YA literature into a landscape of supernatural and magical adventures. ABANDON is the first book in what will be a trilogy. The reader is left a little confused and anxious for what can save Pierce. Even with the background of the famous myth, things take their own course and people never seem conventional. Hopefully, as the series develops, we will be given more information about the mysterious John, the sexton Mr. Smith, and all the issues of abandonment that weave through their lives. Even Pierce, with her edgy anger and often selfish attitude, can use some finer detail.

Readers who have enjoyed writers like Melissa Marr, Alyson Noël and Francesca Lia Block will love Cabot's newest venture into mythological lore. Pierce has the potential to be a most interesting heroine.

Reviewed by Sally M. Tibbetts on April 26, 2011

by Meg Cabot