The Goddess Test by Aimee Carter
My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars
The Goddess Test is a story about Kate- an 18 year girl who has spent the last few years in New York caring for her mother who is very ill. When her mother is close to dying she uproots them both to a small town to be closer to where she had lived as a girl, and there at her new school Kate meets James, a nice but lonely boy who wants to be her friend, and Dylan and Ava, the beautiful popular kids who are initially not nice at all to Kate. Kate is an almost unbelievably kind and patient heroine- very stubborn, principled, and incredibly selfless (a lot more so than I would've been in her situation). Exactly the kind of girl you would want fighting on your side. You get the sense that she has had a hard life the previous few years, sacrificing friends and school to spend time with her mother, and is now facing the hard prospect of being alone.
This book is essentially a re-telling of the myth of the Greek Gods, especially the story of Hades and Persephone. (Recap!) Hades was in love in Persephone and kidnapped her away to the underworld, but her mother was so upset that it plummeted the world into winter. They formed a bargain where Persephone would spend 6 months of the year with Hades and 6 months of the year with her mother. This book shows us thousands of years later, and Hades (now named Henry) offers Kate a chance to help her mother through a bargain- she must spend 6 months of every year with him, and earn her immortality as his queen by passing 7 tests, of which she is not allowed to know anything about.
In some ways this also reminded me of Beauty and the Beast- being locked up with someone you initially don't like to help a parent. However, Henry isn't the beast in this. He is a very good and lovable character, very kind and eager for Kate to be happy, as well as desperate to protect her from the unknown traitor among them who has killed previous girls that have come close to passing the tests. He is not your stereotypical ruler of the underworld at all, and I did actually feel really sorry for him. As it turns out, Kate is not only trying to pass for her mother's sake- she needs to pass to protect Henry as well. The ending is full of many revelations, and surprises, and links back again to the prologue, which doesn't make sense until right at the end.
I liked this because I loved the IDEA of the story, but I was a little disappointed in the execution of the telling of it. It's difficult to explain what I mean without posting spoilers but I'll try. What I loved was the idea of a story based around Kate being locked up with Henry for 6 months, and gradually starting to fall for him. I wanted to feel the progression of the relationship between Kate and Henry, and be there with them for the significant conversations- to start to fall in love with Henry myself through what he says and how he acts. Instead, Kate more or less just tells us that time passes and she and Henry spend a lot of time together in the evenings chatting and playing cards and that she grows closer to him. As such I felt a little detached from the situation and the characters. I could understand her starting to fall for him, but I couldn't feel why.
I hope I don't put you off reading this book as I did really like it, and it did feel very fresh and new, with plenty of shocks, surprises, twists and turns. I would recommend it to fans of an unusual love story, and I will be reading the next book in the series- Goddess Interrupted when it comes out next year. This looks like it will be where Kate has to spend 6 months away from Henry, and where (I suspect) she will grow closer to her friend James and be forced to question her feelings all over again.
Verdict- A good book, I liked it.
Need a second opinion?
Goddess Test Review at Magic Of Reading (Leanne) 5 stars
Goddess Test Review at The Reader Bee (Christy)