Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Goddess Test by Aimee Carter

Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Age: Young Adult
Species: Human, Demi-god, Greek Godesses and Gods
Rating: 3.7/5
Interest: Myth of Persephone/ Cover Lust/ 200 in 2011

It's always been just Kate and her mom—and her mother is dying. Her last wish? To move back to her childhood home. So Kate's going to start at a new school with no friends, no other family and the fear her mother won't live past the fall.

Then she meets Henry. Dark. Tortured. And mesmerizing. He claims to be Hades, god of the Underworld—and if she accepts his bargain, he'll keep her mother alive while Kate tries to pass seven tests.

Kate is sure he's crazy—until she sees him bring a girl back from the dead. Now saving her mother seems crazily possible. If she succeeds, she'll become Henry's future bride, and a goddess. (Summary from goodreads.com)

The Goddess Test by Aimee Carter was a light and enjoyable remake of the myth of Persephone. Having a slight obsession with this myth and all version of it (that I can get my hands on.) I feel confident recommending it to any readers inexperienced with the story of Persephone and Hades.

When first picking up The Goddess Test I worried about Kate's character. Her mother is dying of cancer, which is a horrible thing for anyone to ever have to go through. She's moving to a new town where she doesn't know anyone, basically waiting for her mother to die. I was so scared she would be a character who either bemoans her situation or gets easily overwhelmed with having to care for someone and being introduced to the "formerly fictional" world of the supernatural. Kate wasn't like that at all. She dealt with her situation calmly and made decisions to the best of her ability with all the information she had. Kate was practical almost to a fault and self-sacrificing for the things she loved. She was very kind and forgiving, but with a temper. SPOILER: I was so proud of Kate's final decision to leave for the six months in order to experience life on her own. Not many girls would want to live away from the mansion or their "boyfriend" so I was really happy with that. SPOILER.

Henry, Hades, was an odd character. I couldn't really pin down his emotions. It felt like each time he was experiencing a powerful emotion, it drowned out all the lesser ones. For instance, he was concerned for Kate's life, angry at his staff and realizing he cared for Kate all at once. The anger, the most powerful emotion was all that was displayed. I'm sure he felt more than he let on, I just couldn't see it very easily.

I picked out the gods and goddesses administering the test to Kate almost as soon as they were introduced. If any reader is familiar with the main Olympians then they should be able to guess their characters without a problem. It was a little difficult to decipher when a "Goddess Tests" were being administered, mainly because it wasn't clear what she was being tested on. Later, when Kate is being judged the exams become very obvious. SPOILER: I didn't like that they made it all about the seven deadly sins. To me, that has more of a Christian affiliation than a Greek one, though historically it isn't tied to either religions. The seven cardinal sins  don't fit into the story for me. I wish it had been something more like the 12 labors of Herakles only individualized to Kate. SPOILER.

I specifically loved the turn Carter did on Persephone. Having Hades let Persephone leave him for a mortal and Persephone giving up her immortal life for said mortal was brilliant. Not only because it spawned the goddess tests and all, but because it means Hades has loved and suffered. As a god, he doesn't have to empathize with mortals. Making him so vulnerable, kind and human-like endeared him to me. I also adored Kate's mother for being so willing to sacrifice for her daughter. It simply moved me to tears for reasons I can't explain unless you've read the book.

The timing of the book was a little bit off. Certain parts of the novel, like the beginning or between tests felt rushed and glossed over. Yet some parts Kate's isolation, her mythology lessons, seemed to lag. I think it would have enhanced the novel to expand on Kate's new friendships and her time at the school from the start, to underscore how alien she felt in "the afterlife." In contrast, bits of Kate's time at the manner could be chopped to give it a more consistent flow.

 Overall The Goddess Test by Aimee Carter is a sweet and good YA novel. I look forward to more in this series. If you have time definitely add this book to your to read list.

Teaser Line: "I care so much that I do not know how to tell you without it seeming inconsequential compared to how I feel. Even if I am distant at times and seem as if I do not want to be with you, it is only because this scares me, too."

Series Order:
1. The Goddess Test
2. Goddess Interrupted (To Be Released April 2012 in US)
3. TBA

Happy Reading,

2 comments:

  1. To describe this book I would use the words, cool, unique and intriguing. Basically, a teenage girls' mother is dying, she moves to Northern Michigan to live out her last weeks. Girl starts new school and is immediately sucked into a deal with Hades. She really does not have a clue what is going on and has to wing it. Everything is happening behind the scenes in this one and it's very cool when all is revealed at the end.

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    Replies
    1. Very true! Kate's journey is a little rushed (enough to leave some in a tailspin) but her story is a good one. It'll be interesting to see how Carter develops the story in Goddess Interrupted.

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