Modern tech in the Underworld, blatant pop culture references—oh, Meg Cabot, I expect nothing less from you.So that aside, I’m actually liking this series. It’s not a spectacular series, but it’s decent and enjoyable enough. Pierce isn’t an informed heroine, despite falling into shrieking damsel mode at times; there’s actual consequences to Pierce and John’s actions; her family actually worries about Pierce; the relationship isn’t idealized as the perfectest most wonderful fairy tale evah. It feels so rare at this point with paranormal YA, you almost want to hold this up as a shining example.No, it’s not perfect. As I said before, Pierce does have a tendency to slip into shrieking damsel mode. She does at least make an effort to fight back at times, but most of the fights end with her calling for John who then whisks her away. And while the relationship isn’t romanticized as the ideal, there is a discomforting notion that Pierce is totally okay with this relationship. There are moments where the damaging qualities are called into question—the beginning of the book has Pierce bitching at John for not telling her the rules of the Underworld and not seeing things from her perspective. And I really don’t like the whole “He’s so dangerous, but if only he could learn to love!” theme to John’s character. (Oh, and a BLATANT Beauty & the Beast reference. Which is then followed by the discovery that John has servants who are completely loyal to him. Fortunately, they’re human.) Again, while it’s not romanticized as the ideal, but it is disconcerting as the fact that John’s the hero and we need to be rooting for him. It’s not as bad as in the first book, but it’s still a little unsettling at times.And while I don’t think it’s a perfect book, I think that there’s a lot here that works. Pierce isn’t an informed smart girl, she actually has to do research on the Greek myths. There’s a little fail moment on her end with not understanding of the pomegranate seeds rule, but she figures it out fairly quickly. (Oh, and actually grasps the symbolism, unlike some other Cabot heroines, Emerson.) And like I said, she does make an effort to fight back against the Furies, but because Pierce isn’t superpowered, she’s going to have issues. Again, not ideal, but a lot better than a lot of other YA heroines I could name. Plus, I’m clinging on to the fact that Pierce’s family isn’t shunted aside. They actually worry about her; it’s a plot point that her dad is driving down from Connecticut to find Pierce. Pierce is always worrying about what her leaving—for all eternity—is going to do to her family. Aside from two members of her family, they’re actually worried for her. Even Pierce’s cousin Alex worries a little about her, even when he’s off being emo. The only two who don’t really have that is Pierce’s Uncle Chris and her grandmother. Her uncle, I can kinda excuse, as it’s mentioned that he’s not really functioning well in society. The grandmother, though. Does Meg Cabot have something against elderly characters, because this is the third grandmother-esque character who’s a horrible person. I mean, I don’t really like one of my grandmothers, but I don’t cast her as a harpy. (/tangent, but like the bitchy blonde cheerleader, I’m really sick of this.) I would have liked to have seen more worry and empathy from Pierce’s friends, but again, they’re teenagers, so I do buy the thought process of “Oh, you’re okay? Oh, you’re with him? I don’t blame you.”Plotwise, I think this book moves a little more, even though not much really happens in the plot. But there’s a lot more that you do find out in this, specifically some of the backstory and the Underworld rules. And I do have to chalk slight points to Meg Cabot for some of the mythology used, specifically for referencing an alternate version of the Hades & Persephone myth that yes, everything was consensual. (Yes, this is an actual thing and dates back to ancient Greece, IIRC. I need to hunt down my mythology notes.) Oh, and the symbolism of pomegranate seeds—well done, and to that scene in question, where has that Meg Cabot been?So, in conclusion—it’s not a perfect book, I’m not holding it up as a perfect book. But I think it’s definitely different enough from the majority of paranormal YA out there, and I’m surprised with how it’s going. There’s a nice lack of stupidity and fuckery on all ends—not completely gone, but less than expected—and the story’s not bad. I do think that this is another series that I think would have worked a lot better as a single book, but I’m not going to knock it completely. Well done.