Coming tomorrow: Preternatural Book Club. We’ll be talking about chapters 5 and 6 of Dead Witch Walking
by Kim Harrison. Join us!
Ready to talk a little YA today? A little Greek mythology? Read on for guest reviewer Charlotte Hunter’s take on The Goddess Test, the new Young Adult book by Aimee Carter released April 19 by Harlequin Teen, and check out the contest at the end of the post!
ABOUT THE BOOK: Every girl who has taken the test has died. Now it’s Kate’s turn. It’s always been just Kate and her mom–and now 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.
CHARLOTTE’S REVIEW: The Goddess Tests is one in a growing number of YA books to plumb Greek mythology in search of a juicy story, in this case the legend of Persephone who, beloved of the god of death, was condemned to spend six months of her life in the underworld.
In Eden, Michigan – where, it turns out, the gods have taken up residence, the charms of the Upper Peninsula apparently surpassing those of Greece – eighteen-year-old Kate Winter braves a series of potentially deadly tests designed to prove her worthiness; success holds the possibility of ensuring her mother a peaceful death, saving the life of another teenaged girl, gaining immortality, and winning the love of and marriage to the god Hades, aka Henry.
Alas, Carter stumbles badly as she tries to engage our sympathies for Henry. Lost and lonely ever since he was abandoned by Persephone – an arranged marriage that failed, it turns out, rather than the violent abduction of legend – his character remains stubbornly one-dimensional throughout, proving that gorgeous looks, brooding eyes, and occasional fits of inexplicable temper and tenderness do not an sexy or intriguing hero make. Nor does Carter show any more adeptness at explaining how Kate’s feelings for Henry evolve from terror to love. This happens only because we are told it does, not because Henry seems to do or say anything to earn Kate’s regard. And the mystery of the much-dreaded tests, aspiring to labyrinthine twists equal to those in which ancient Greek myth hid the terrible Minotaur, pass for the most part
without the reader knowing they have done so; revealed in anticlimactic hindsight, suspense sags.
Kate is the heart of this story – melancholy, skeptical, generous, cynical, hopeful; she yearns, as we all do, for a life filled with hope, in which love is free of grief. Her adventures in “Goddess” – the first in a series – will please those who enjoy new takes on well-worn themes, and Carter’s prose, particularly in the first quarter of the book, will at times delight those who appreciate graceful, evocative language. The remainder of the story, however, will grieve those who value characters possessed of depth and believability and who yearn for storytelling that possesses consistency within complexity.
Suzanne here again. Thanks, Charlotte! When not conducting research or teaching about diversity issues, Charlotte Hunter writes adult and YA mysteries in which fantasy always plays a part.
I haven’t read The Goddess Test yet myself, so I can’t weigh in. Reviews have ranged from scathing to ravingly positive on Goodreads, so win a copy here and judge for yourself! You know the drill: +1 for comment, +1 for blog follow, +1 for Twitter follow @Suzanne_Johnson, and +1 for Tweet or Retweet. If you’ve already read The Goddess Test and want to weigh in, we’d love to hear your thoughts!