I have to start by saying that yes, I am a bit biased toward this series. (And not because of the fact that Meg Cabot is a FLAWLESS human being who can do no wrong.*) I am a fan of the Hades/Persephone myth. When I was younger, and reading the myths for the first time, I don’t know why I was drawn to it. But as I got older and started reading the real (non-homogenized) myths and their variations, I fell in love with the SHEER AWESOME that is Hades and Persephone. Seriously, have some delicious links that explains this better than I can without completely derailing this review. And I admit, I had…reservations about this series. Mainly due to the state of YA PNR in general, and I knew that it was only a matter of time before people started going to Greek mythology for their bad boy love trilogy. But here’s the difference between Meg Cabot and a good chunk of YA authors: Cabot honestly acknowledges that while a teenage girl’s life may revolve around her love interest, the Love Interest should not be the only person worth talking about or care about the heroine. This is something that I’ve always appreciated in all of her books—not just the YA—Cabot takes the time to populate her heroines’ (and heroes’) lives with a great cast of supporting characters who provide humor and support and love for the main characters. Pierce’s parents are characters, not just some background population who may occasionally impede Pierce from running away with John. When Pierce goes missing, they’re extremely worried about her safety, especially considering all that Pierce has gone through. When she blurts out that “I’m engaged to a Lord of the Underworld and that’s why I’ve disappeared but we need help,” her parents do need convincing, not because “OMG U DON’T UNDERSTAND OUR LOVE” but because they actually do think that Pierce is making something up…and they do believe her when she proves that John can do the things she’s claimed. Her parents don’t instantly accept all that Pierce says, but they’re willing to help her and John once she’s proven that yes, there are supernatural forces at work. And it’s not just her parents; most of Pierce’s family not only worries about her, but also what’s going on throughout the island and the population. I really liked that Alex was willing to try to ‘save’ Pierce from John, but he backs down once the situation’s explained to him. (I’ll get into this further, but I LOVE that Alex ends up as the personification of Thanatos at the end.) I still have issue that Pierce’s grandmother is possessed by a Fury, mainly because, look just because she’s uber-conservative shouldn’t mean that she should be possessed. (Mainly because I GET IT, most grandmothers are conservative. Can we have more grandmas like Lizzie’s from QoB?)OH KAYLA! I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned Kayla in the previous reviews specifically. I really love her—I think she makes a great foil for Pierce and I liked how quickly they bonded. And I also really like that of everyone in the book, Kayla is the one to point out to Pierce how privileged her life has been up until this point; she doesn’t tear Pierce down for it, but I do like that it’s acknowledged how not everyone (specifically, Kayla and Alex) has had it easy in life. And let’s talk about Pierce herself. I really enjoy her as a main character. Her strengths aren’t her intelligence or beauty, but it’s her own inner strength and drive to protect the ones she loves. And it really does come across in the book. Sure, Pierce does dive into situations headfirst without completely thinking them out first, but not only is that realistic for a teenage girl, but it makes sense that if she sees someone she cares about being hurt, uh, run. (Her combo of the whip and the Persephone Diamond, yeah, it was completely ridiculous but also kinda awesome.) And I like that she’s not a wilting little flower who’s going to completely melt at John’s touch and do everything that he says. I’ve really liked the fact that Pierce sets boundaries and rules for their relationship; including the fact that while she is more than willing to fulfill her Underworld duties, she does recognize that living in the Underworld 24/7 is very unhealthy and wants to continue having a life above ground. It’s not a perfect arrangement, but I do like that Cabot does point out the consequences of being in an immortal relationship. And even the little things about Pierce, I like. I’ve actually really liked the fact that Pierce says she’s not book-smart, she’s in the D-Track program at her school for the troubled kids. And yeah, part of it is because I am tired of seeing the ‘intelligent’ heroine who’s so much smarter than everyone else and reads nothing but classics. But also Cabot doesn’t dumb Pierce down—not being book-smart does not mean she’s outright stupid. And then there’s John. *sigh* I do see that there is more characterization to him other than “he’s possessive BUT HE’S SO HAWT!” And I do like that he does change throughout the book. I…still have a problem with him overall, because John’s still extremely possessive and he does have the temper problem. He’s not controlling; for as much as he tries, Pierce does completely shut him down and says “No, I’m not going to sit around waiting for you to save me.” It’s just that there are parts of him that make me side-eye John a lot.I do have to talk about the mythology a little bit since it is a retelling of Hades/Persephone. One of the things I did really like overall is that Cabot stresses what the myth is actually about: life after death. The sun after the storm. It does get a little too “nail on the head” at a few points, but I think that it works. Especially since I think that we do need more stories that emphasize hope after terrible occurrences right now. It is a little jarring to go from “Okay, John really isn’t Hades, there’s a bunch of Underworlds and Isla Huesos is one of them” and then throw in Thanatos as being THE god of Death. On the other hand, I went in thinking that Thanatos was going to be the Big Bad and got a very happy surprise that he’s not—Thanatos is just under the control of the Rector family. I don’t know why Thanatos has to possess someone in order to work (it’s Meg Cabot, just go with it), but I did like that he’s not played up as “DEATH IS EVIL AND WE MUST STAY AWAY FROM HIM.”Yes, I do admit that this series does have its problems; I even said in my review of the last book that Abandon was not a perfect series. But my standing as a long-time Meg Cabot fan aside, I do genuinely think that there are positive aspects to this trilogy, and I think people will generally dismiss it as “Oh, it’s another YA paranormal with a bad boy hero.” And it is. But I think Cabot deserves a lot more credit for writing Pierce and John the way she does and for giving us an aggressive heroine who is willing to stand up to her boyfriend and has people she cares about. It’s not at the top of my favorite Meg Cabot series, but it’s one that I will encourage people to read.*Seriously, if you go and talk to a fan for over an hour after she’s BURST INTO TEARS** over the mere notion of meeting you, YOU ARE A PERFECT PERSON.**…Yes, I cried when I met her. Shut up, I’d been waiting twelve years for that to happen.