I did it again. I read the reviews for this book before I had a chance to judge it for myself. And let me tell you… the reviews were not good. For that reason I spent the first half of this book trying to hate it. I even came up with a list of reasons it’s a bad book (I’ll get to that later). But it’s not a bad book. In fact, I think it was a rather good book.
I read this book because it was on my nook, I don’t even know how it got there. I was looking for a quick, easy read and teen books are my go-to for quick, easy reads. Also I’m a sucker for Greek mythology. I was sufficiently disappointed by Meg Cabot’s attempt at the Persephone myth and was hoping that Aimee Carter could do better. She can. Also these books just have such pretty covers.
The Goddess Test by Aimee Carter 1/2
Why did I dislike Abandon so much? The main character was annoying and silly as some teenage girls are wont to be. She spent all her time telling us how terrified she was only to fall for the source of her terror. It’s hard to compare these books because, in a way, they’re so similar, but so different.
Kate’s mother has cancer and was given 6 months to live… that was 4 years ago. Now she is finally nearing the end and has decided to move back to her hometown, Eden, so she can die in peace. Kate is absolutely devastated. She is uprooting the tiny shred of a life she maintained in New York so she can watch her mother die in a small town. She doesn’t know how to live without her mom and she definitely doesn’t want to.
She begrudgingly attends the local high school where she meets James, the outcast, Dylan, the jock, and Ava, the most popular girl in school… and Dylan’s jealous girlfriend. When Dylan expresses interest in Kate (ie: made eye contact with her) Ava lures her out into the woods and leaves her stranded by a river. Unfortunately, as Ava attempts to flee the scene, she bashes her head on a rock in the river (seriously, bashes, blood and brains and everything). Kate rushes to her rescue but quickly discovers it’s no use, Ava is dead. Enter Henry.
Henry is scary but in a mesmerizing way. His eyes are pools of silver that manage to look sad and intrigued and guilty and hopeful all at once. He is, of course, gorgeous. He asks what Kate would give to bring her “friend” back to life.
Kate then unknowingly promises to fulfill the Persephone prophecy. To live with Henry in his mansion for 6 months every year, to rule beside him as his queen of the underworld. This is, if she passes the goddess tests.
Here’s what I came up with when I was still trying to find reasons to hate this book:
1. Everything was a bit exaggerated and moved a little too fast. For example: Ava is unbelievably mean to Kate the second she meets her, Dylan then shows Kate to her class which provokes Ava to lure her out into the woods and leave her to die. Ava’s brain then basically implodes when she bonks it on a rock. Throughout this entire scene I was thinking, “Okay, there’s no way a girl would do that… there’s no way that would happen.” Along the same lines…
2. Everyone believes just a little too easily. Henry comes along and magically puts humpty dumpty back together again and Kate is… less shocked than she should be. He then comes to her house and tells her he wants her to rule the underworld with him and she doesn’t bat an eye. Neither do her friends. Everyone instantly accepts this clearly impossible situation. (Granted, this is explained later).
Those are weak reasons to dislike a book and, in this case, they are both explained later on in the novel anyway.
Here are the reasons I liked it:
1. Kate is a likeable character and her actions make sense. She agrees to live with Henry not because she thinks he’s sexy or because she’s afraid of him, but because she has nothing to lose and she knows he can help her… and she thinks she can help him.
2. She is both selfish and unselfish. Though this is a obviously a fantasy, Kate’s emotions remain very human. She’s just a teenage girl. She isn’t special. Her entire life has revolved around her mother’s disease; she hasn’t dated, she hasn’t made friends, she hasn’t lived for herself. She knows what it feels like to lose someone and she has a serious bone to pick with death. She will do whatever it takes to keep her mother alive, even if it is just because she isn’t ready to say good-bye, but will sacrifice almost anything for the happiness and well-being of others.
3. It isn’t a stupid romance. I immediately expected Kate to fall for the handsome yet terrifying god of the underworld because… that’s what girls do in teen books. I expected her to get caught in a love triangle where she has to decide between life as a mortal and life as a goddess and it’s so hard to decide because both guys are just super good looking. It doesn’t quite play out that way, she’s more concerned with her mother and her friends and the goddess tests than she is with falling in love. While there is a love a triangle, it’s not what you’d expect.
4. The ending was surprising and tied the entire book together. It was a little odd and I had to consciously decide whether I liked it or not, but it worked.
Sure, there were a few plot holes and some questions that weren’t even asked, but overall an enjoyable story and I actually look forward to reading more from this series.