Review: The Goddess Test
After the train wreck that was City of Bones, I’m not quite sure why I decided to pick up another YA novel to read next. YA lit seems to have taken a horrendous dive into melodrama and mediocrity. When I was within the genre’s target age range, I was devouring books like Robin McKinley’s The Blue Sword, Tamora Pierce’s Song of the Lioness and The Immortals series, and Pamela Dean’s The Secret Country. I didn’t actually switch to non-fantasy lit until I was older, mainly because I just didn’t really care about “normal people” stories.*
Nowadays, YA lit seems to mainly be written by late teens and twenty-somethings, women who spent too much time on fanfiction.net or thought that Twilight was the greatest thing to blunder into the public light. Eric keeps asking me why I punish myself with books I know I’m going to hate. While I was reading City of Bones, I would periodically stop and complain about whatever ridiculousness I had just encountered. He kept asking me, “If it’s that bad, why are you still reading it?”
The Goddess Test was a welcome change from the horrendousness that I’d just experienced.
Aimee Carter’s debut novel, The Goddess Test, just came out this last May. I pre-ordered it on my Kindle, then delved into it as soon as I finished the other couple of books I had on my to-read list (The Gathering Dark by Jeff Grubb and the aforementioned atrocity I struggled through a few weeks ago).
The Goddess Test tells the story of Kate, a senior in high school (one year behind) who moves to a small town called Eden with her mother, who’s dying of cancer and wants to draw her last breath in her childhood hometown. Kate is, through a short series of events, drawn into the troubles of Henry, who turns out to be the old god of the Underworld, looking for a new bride to replace his Persephone, who left him for another man (essentially).
Now, I want to make this clear: I know my mythology. I did take a little issue with the concerns the upper echelons of the pantheon had with the seven deadly sins (seeing as classical mythology is full of the gods enacting those sins and for some reason everyone being cool with it). But that’s not the point- ultimately the story is about a girl dealing with loss, and overcoming a trial that had been a roadblock for her entire life. The relationship between Kate and Henry, although I would have liked to see a bit more development, is believable – although it’s clear that ultimately they will likely fall in love, Kate makes the much more realistic (and intelligent) choice of trying to earn his friendship, first, instead of trying to win his heart.
Although I disagree with this theme that I find recurring in YA lit, that of the girl trying to “heal” or “fix” the male protagonist, Kate does need a reason to live, and while Henry doesn’t quite become that, he does give her a goal to strive toward.
This was a quick read – I finished it in a little more than a day – but enjoyable. It wasn’t the greatest book I’ve ever read, but I actually stopped playing Frontierville on Facebook for 24 hours so that I could read uninterrupted. For someone who needs a pleasant read by the pool for a couple of days, I’d definitely recommend this.
* The closest I got, in fact, was a series called Fearless by Francine Pascal, the first book of which was published in 1999. I don’t remember much about them, only that I devoured the first dozen or so, and quit reading shortly after encountering the most graphic sex scene I’d read in my life (which, in hindsight, wasn’t that graphic… but then again, I was only eleven or twelve).**
**This also is a bit of a theme with me; I ended up reading books with material that wasn’t really… suitable for my age group, but what could I do? The lit meant for my age was way below my reading ability, and I hated it.