Thursday, May 5, 2011

Review: The Goddess Test

(Goddess Test #1)

Aimee Carter
Paranormal Young Adult
297 Pages
Harlequin Teen
Available Now
Received via NetGalley for review

Kate has known this time was coming for years. Her mom was supposed to only live a couple more months, but she's held out for four long years, though now her body is finally giving out. Wanting to return to the town she grew up in, Kate's mom moves them from New York City and sets Kate up at the local high school.

After an unfortunate run in with resident popular girl Ava, Kate finds herself in the presence of dark and mysterious Henry, a young man offering to fix some of the problems in her life in exchange for her spending six months of the year with him. Unwilling to believe he has any power to save those she cares about, Kate reluctantly agrees, and then finds herself at Eden Manor with Henry who now claims he rules the dead.

He also informs Kate that she must pass seven unspecified tests in order to uphold her end of the bargain, and in doing so, she will gain immortality and be able to rule the Underworld at his side. Though she at first rejects her circumstances, Kate begins to have a change of heart the more time she spends in his presence, and suddenly her passing these tests becomes of the utmost importance. But there is someone that doesn't want Kate to pass, someone who will go to extraordinary lengths to ensure she not only fails, but fails in a way that takes her life with it.

The Goddess Test is a story that elicits from us a mixed reaction, both warming us with a quiet and sweet romance but also weighing us down with the tangible despondency of two heavy-hearted individuals for whom life has never been simple or easy. Circumstance forces Kate and Henry into a delicate situation where fear and affection are entangled to a spectacular degree, and we as readers must carefully sort through the tenuous threads linking them together with them, hoping and willing both to soften the hardened exterior their complicated lives have forced them to build. This story is not one with a frenetic pace where the action catapults us from page to page with blurring speed, it is rather one permeated by a sense of unease–an underlying tension resulting from Kate and Henry's fragile relationship as well as the inordinate pressure both face in terms of the seven tests propelling us forward at a slightly slower but no less riveting speed.

Kate is a character with whom it's a bit difficult to relate in the beginning, projecting an attitude of complete indifference her first day at a new school while proceeding to pull a second layer of emotional armor down around her even thicker than the first shortly after our introduction. Her only focus and area of interest is her dying mother, and while we can certainly sympathize with her difficulties, her armor does have the desired effect and keeps us at bay. She's almost self-sacrificing to a fault, jumping into a situation with Henry to save enemy-turned-friend Ava but then refusing to see it through with fairly disastrous results. In order to right her wrongs, she again offers herself up to extend her mother's life, and while her actions are admirable, she does mope a bit upon first arriving to Eden Manor after her decision is made, causing the distance between her and us to grow instead of lessen as we feel a connection to her slowly slip from our grasp.

About halfway through however, Kate begins to make the best of her situation, engaging in her new life and those who are now a part of it, and we finally begin to be drawn deeper into the story. While she does adhere to her personal credo of "no one else will be hurt because of me" throughout, her gradual change in attitude toward Henry is a pleasure to read, and hope for a positive outcome for both of them together and individually begins to penetrate the cloud of melancholy surrounding them, each admission of growing emotional involvement causing it to dissipate ever so slightly. By the end, Kate is a far more interesting character, and one whom will be more enjoyable to read about in future installments now that she's dropped her guard and made herself more accessible.

Interestingly enough, despite a premise that suggests otherwise, those who pick up this book expecting strong references to Greek mythology will most likely be a little disappointed as that element is surprisingly subtle. Gods and goddesses are alluded to but they don't play a major role, and even Henry's position as Hades is subdued as both the growing romance and the mystery surrounding the deaths of Kate's predecessors remain the primary focus. It only detracts from the story in that our expectation for a greater mythological prominence is high, but the story is entertaining in and of itself even with that noticeable absence. With the shift in both Kate and Henry's demeanor from one of grim depression to one of reserved excitement for the future at the end, the second book has the potential to be more immediately compelling, and I do look forward to its release.

Rating: 3.5/5


  1. My main interest in this book was the Greek mythology - I am very disappointed to know that it plays a small role in the book :( I am not sure whether I want to read the book now. Thanks so much for the review!

  2. I'm with Misha on feeling disappointed that more wasn't done with Greek mythology.

    I've read so many reviews for this book that I feel like I've read myself even though I haven't. Kate's growth seems very admirable. Thanks for your thoughts Jenny!

  3. I feel a bit happy now that I haven't requested this title on Netgalley. I'm afraid I would have been a bit disappointed after reading several glowing reviews. Great and honest review :)

  4. I have heard that Carter's interpretation of Hades was a bit of a disappointment--as in he wasn't dark enough. I'm a bit old school when it comes to the Gods and Goddesses. You can't really expect them to act like they are human when they are not, and part of me questions whether or not you could really get to that dark place when you're portraying one of the most well known mythological figures of all time as a teenager.

    Awesome, Awesome review as always, Jenny!

  5. Great honest review! I'm definitely still picking this book up but it's nice to read a review that doesn't say every aspect of the story is perfect. Thanks for the review! ;)

  6. So sorry to find this out. I really thought that Greek mythology would play a majore role in this story.

  7. I love a good mystery and while I am a bit disappointed that the Greek mythology is not as prominent as hope for, I still very much want to read this for myself. Great review as always, Jenny!

  8. I am not excited as everyone is about this book and I'm not really planning to read it .. but thanks for the review Jenny =)

  9. I loved this book! Henry took me by the heart. I always have this thing for dark, broody, guys. I love all the greek mythology. I thought it was an interesting twist on the book. Nice review Jenny!

  10. I read this a few months ago..I think...I thought it was very cutesy. I liked it for the YA aspect..:) I liked your thoughts on the characters development. I know Ill be reading the rest of the series

  11. Misha - I was a little surprised how little there was, I'm hoping there's going to be more in the next book now that Henry's brothers and sisters don't have to be as secretive around Kate:)

    Missie - It definitely took me a while to warm to Kate, but by the end I was a much bigger fan of her:)

    Ladybug - It's still an interesting story and had some great elements, I was just slightly underwhelmed. I do have high hopes for the next book though:)

    Carissa - Both Kate and Henry were both a bit depressing for a while. Henry was dark, but not in the sinister, temperamental way you might expect of Hades, he was more brooding. I didn't mind that, I just wanted more of him, I felt like I didn't really know him at all.

    Loren - You're welcome! And you should definitely still pick it up, there are a ton of people who loved this one!

    Nina - I did too, I was expecting more and I'm such a big fan of mythology, so that was just a touch disappointing.

    Jan - You definitely should! I read this one after I read Abandon, and I enjoyed the mythology in that one so much that it may have colored my opinion of this one and it's seeming lack of gods and goddesses.

    Elodie - You're welcome, it's not for everyone:)

    Savy - I'm looking forward to more Henry in the next one, I'm hoping we get to learn a little more about him unrelated to Persephone:)

    Tina - I will too, even though I wasn't wowed with this one, it was definitely good enough to make me want to continue the story!

  12. I almost feel like the book would have been better received if it wasn't a Greek myth retelling. I got a Beauty and the Beast vibe that I think could have worked better. The Greek myth part was so subtle that I don't think it would have affected things all that much if it weren't there. I totally agree with you about the characters' despondency making it difficult to connect with them or their story.

  13. I love the cover and greek mythology so I can't wait to read this one. Thanks for the review!

  14. I'm kind of bummed that Greek mythology doesn't play a bigger role in this story, because that is what initially sparked my interest in the book. I still may read this book during the summer when I have more time. Thanks for the honest review!

  15. Small - I agree, the mythology element was lost in the shuffle of everything else. Maybe it will play a bigger part in the next book?

    Danna - You're welcome:)

    Christina - It was a bit of a bummer since I was so looking forward to it, but it was still a fun read:)

  16. The main reason why I requested this title was because of the mention of greek mythology. Thanks for the heads up, now I know not to look for it. I'm actually surprised given that the title of the book is "Goddess Test". Nonetheless I'm still interested.

  17. I love your reviews! I can really make a sound decision on whether a book ends up in my pile. Thank you for being very thorough and fair!

  18. I would only read it cos of the story behind it. I always did like Hades and Per

  19. Great review!

    Thanks for the warning on mythology not being huge.

  20. I think I would have liked this one a lot more if it hadn't had anything to do with Greek mythology... I guess that's sort impossible, but do you know what I mean? Like maybe it could have been magic instead somehow... like a curse that forced her to stay there, because the total lack of Greek mythology and the really lame tests in the novel totally bummed me out. Still, there was something to the writing that made it a very enjoyable experience as I was reading it.

  21. Rummanah - I knew there were characters in the book who were supposed to be certain gods and goddesses, but honestly, the allusions to there positions were so subtle I missed all but one entirely:)

    Felicia - Thanks! There were some really strong elements in this one and then some things bothered me a bit, but overall I enjoyed it:)

    Blodeuedd - I love the Hades and Persephone myth, it's my favorite:)

    Juju - Thanks! And you're welcome, I think maybe if you go in not expecting it as much it won't be such a noticeable absence.

    Ashley - Agree completely!

  22. Sometimes I can't believe how simimlar our tastes are. I also gave it a 3.5. I liked it, but I had my issues - mostly with Hades...

    But yes I liked it and will read the next one too!

  23. I thought the mythology would be a bigger part but I'm still interested in reading since I read Abandon not too long ago.

  24. Thanks for honest review. Very good point about her emotional armor.
    Brandi from Blkosiner’s Book Blog

  25. Hee hee... granted my 5 star rating might have been much, but I did get caught up in the world and in the players. When I do that and don't want to leave I usually end up giving the world 5 stars. I do agree that the mythology was minimal, but it was also explained why in the story. The part I didn't enjoy was Calliope. As Hera, she doesn't make sense at all. I don't see Hera falling for Hades EVER. If she was who I thought she was (a muse b/c of the name) then I would have accepted her role in a much better way. I still love the Hades/Persephone retellings especially when Hades is brooding and not evil. :) Great review. Glad you did still like it. :)

  26. Great review, Jenny. :) I was also disappointed in the lack of Greek mythology-- and that a lot of the characters who we found out were gods and goddesses didn't live up to their namesakes much. But the romance was sweet and it was an enjoyable read.

  27. I really liked Carter's representation of Hades, but I'll agree the Greek mythology was a bit light in this one. I definitely found it entertaining though. Great review :)

  28. Great review. I've been looking forward to this book for some time. I'm surprised that the Greek mythology doesn't play a greater part. Now I'll know to brace myself for that before I read it.

  29. Danny - We rock. That is all:)

    Jenny - I liked the mythology element of Abandon a bit more than this one because it was more apparent and John/Hades was a bit more temperamental like I was expecting of someone in his position. Still enjoyed this one though:)

    Brandi - You're welcome:)

    Melissa - It was definitely a quick read and I had fun reading it which definitely counts for something. Once I was on board with Kate about halfway through, I settled into the story a bit more and am looking forward to the next one:)

    Kat - Thanks! I agree, I didn't recognize any of the gods and goddesses at all. When they were all listed at the end I was like "really?"

    Melissa - I did too, I'm excited to see where things go in the next book:)

    Madigan - Just don't expect it to be prominent and I don't think you'll be as disappointed!

  30. Great review! I want to read this for the mythology, though I may get it out of the library. Love the sound of this book!

    Thanks for your comment! Isn't City of Bones amazing?! I can't wait to read the rest of the series! Ah, love the paranomal-ness. ;)

    (I came to look at this to recover from the pecs... [; I'm getting there...)

  31. I just finished reading this one, and after reading so many five starred reviews, I was a little disappointed with it. My thoughts were a lot like yours, Jenny. I thought the Greek Mythology could have been given a bigger focus, and the romance just didn't work for me at all! The book had a great premise, but it just fell a little short for me.

  32. Thanks for your honest review. I, too, am bummed about the lack of Greek Mythology and romance! Oh well, I have it via NetGalley. I still planning on reading it eventually.

  33. I liked the story but I wish I'd been given a warning that it doesn't have a huge element of Greek mythology. I think that's what made me disappointed about the book.

  34. I had the exact same concerns as you did about the music aspect of it! I'm not a huge music person, so I was afraid that it would be difficult for me to relate to it.
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  35. Mythology has always been one of my favorite subjects, however the reason I enjoyed this book so much was because of the simpler side of the story. I thought Carter did a good job at easing the relationship into something. I think in this series my favorite book is The Goddess Legacy (book 2.5) because in that book it does actually revolve around the Greek Myth portion of the characters in Carter's Goddess Test series. I think The Goddess Test was a good intro but I completely agree with most of the points you made in your review too - there is a lack of Greek mythology focus - Kate's a little too self sacrificing it seems and you nailed it about her emotional armor!