Book: The Goddess Test
Author: Aimee Carter
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Release date: April 19, 2011
Source: NetGalley ARC
Series: Goddess Test #1
Summary: (from Goodreads) 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.
First impressions: I loved the relationship between Kate and her mom. The book opens with Kate driving her mom from their home in New York to the mom's childhood home in Eden, Michigan. Her mom is dying from cancer and wants nothing more but to be at peace. Kate is really struggling with this, and it broke my heart. I liked Kate instantly.
Lasting impressions: It's a fun take on the Greek gods and goddesses. It's hard to say if I would have gotten some deeper meaning from it if I was more familiar with the gods (since the last time I studied them was in 8th grade), but overall my lack of knowledge didn't really detract from my enjoyment of the book. I was really caught up in the story and flew through this book.
Conflicting impressions: It was kind of a bummer that Kate didn't know what the 7 tests are until the end, because it meant that we didn't know either. This wasn't a deal breaker for me, but kind of made me wonder when the end was coming. We had no frame of reference for when the final tests would take place, so I ended up not really caring about them since I also knew we wouldn't get clues as to what the tests were.
Overall impressions: Kate is kind of a pushover, which made some of the scenes ring a little false. As soon as she gets to Eden, she is forced to accept an invitation to a bonfire party by the head cheerleader, Ava. Kate doesn't want to go, because she wants to spend as much time with her mother as possible, but ultimately accepts.
Ava ends up trying to teach Kate a lesson about who exactly is Top Dog in Eden, but the plan goes sour. When Kate is given the opportunity to rectify the situation by striking an odd deal with Henry, she jumps at the chance. I didn't really have a problem with Kate trying to save Ava. Just because someone is a bitch to you doesn't mean you want to see them suffer, even if they are a stranger. I thought this spoke volumes about Kate's compassion and desire to do the right thing.
Meeting Henry, however, is when things get weird. Good weird, but still weird. This mysterious guy asks her to devote 6 months of the year to live with him at his secluded estate and she agrees? Okay, suspension of disbelief, blah blah blah. When push comes to shove, though, Kate backs out and Henry flexes his karmic muscle and then she really has to agree or things are going to get scary weird.
The only thing that ends up spurring Kate through this twisted reality is the thought that Henry could save her mother. Since I found this relationship so believable, I also believed that she would do anything for her mom. I decided to just go with the flow and accept that Kate would do all of these things she didn't want to do, just for her mom. Sure there are lots of lingering questions - Why would her friends let her go? Why wouldn't anyone in Eden wonder what happened to her? - but mostly I could forget my doubts.
After Kate moves in to Henry's house, however, things slowed down. There's no real timeline pushing the story forward. There is a vague threat on Kate's life that I found a bit unclear, so it didn't suffice for me in creating much tension. Mostly I just wanted to know more about the tests.
When the end finally happens, though, the resolution worked for me. I found myself quite satisfied with how they chose to reveal the tests and how Kate had done on each of them, though it could have been expanded just a bit more. I liked how everything wrapped up at the end, and overall I found the story sweet and kind of magical. I think Small Review nailed it with her comparison to Beauty and the Beast because it definitely had the same elements. Girl sacrifices own freedom to save a parent, girl likes overbearing freedom denier despite herself, girl ends up with Stockholm Syndrome.
No? That's not it?
I still found the book to be fun, exciting, interesting, and quite a page-turner. I gobbled this book up in two sittings because I liked Kate and wanted to know what would happen to her. If you like fantastical tales or even fairy tale retellings, I think this book will appeal to you. I'm looking forward to finding out what happens next.
Rating: 4/5 stars
Want a different perspective? Check out this review by Rabid Reads.