Titles: The Goddess Test and Goddess Interrupted
Author: Aimee Carter
Series: Goddess Test #1 and #2
Genre: YA, fantasy, mythology
Publisher: Harlequin Teen, 2011 & 2012
Source: Library and NetGalley
Read for: Review, Once Upon a Time VI
The Goddess Test
Kate's mother is dying of cancer, and she wants to spend her last days in the town she grew up in, Eden. Kate's life has revolved around her mother's disease for the last four years, so she doesn't feel as if she is leaving much behind when she leaves her hometown of New York. However, when she gets to Eden, strange things begin happening, starting when the most popular girl in school takes her to the mysterious mansion at the edge of town. Kate finds herself offered the safety of those closest to her if she agrees to risk her life to become the wife of the ruler of the Underworld, Henry. However, in order to become queen (and to get her reward), she must pass a series of tests that no one else has survived.
For me, this first book was interesting, but not stellar. It took some time for the mythology to appear other than veiled references to Persephone and the obvious fact that Henry was the King of the Underworld. I was disappointed that Kate's tests were not blatant -- she didn't even realize she was taking them at the time, instead simply blundering through the Underworld and trying to avoid whoever was responsible for all the girls before her failing the Tests -- and ending up in the Underworld permanently. I expected quite a bit of drama and suspense surrounding these tests and instead ended up with Kate being confused and trying to figure out why she was there.
With that said, the writing was good and the characters were likable. I would have liked more plot and more sense of organization of the story, but I liked it enough to move on to book 2.
Warnings: One "scene," some language
Kate is returning back to the Underworld after her six months of summer, and she can't wait to see Henry, despite the fact that she heard nothing from him the entire time she was gone. Unlike her sister, Persephone, who dreaded the six months spent in the Underworld, Kate is excited to see Henry and glad the summer is over. However, when she gets to the Underworld, everything is in chaos. Calliope, jealous and bitter that Kate managed to pass her tests, is working to release Cronus, a Titan that nearly destroyed the gods of Olympus before they managed to imprison him -- and that time, Calliope was on their side, helping them. To add to the trouble, Kate can tell that Henry is still fixated on his first wife, Persephone.
This second installment in the Goddess Test series was more enjoyable for me. First of all, there is much more mythology in Goddess, Interrupted. We get to meet Persephone and Adonis, and we learn more about the relationships between the fourteen main Olympians. The book also is significantly more action-packed. I remember looking down at my Kindle and being surprised that I was only 50% through the book, because the scene seemed so climactic, only to get to new and more exciting scenes later on in the story.
I also like the way Henry, Persephone, and Kate's relationship was presented. So often in YA literature, love is presented as a one-time, utterly exclusive thing. I'm not saying that it shouldn't be that way -- certainly now that I am married I am focused on my husband only, not diverted by anyone else past or present. However, before people settle into their commitments, I think there are often those conflicting, overlapping emotions that take a while to fade away. Henry still had feelings for his first wife, and it was difficult for Kate to deal with them, but those feelings didn't negate the way he felt about Kate. Hopefully as they get to know each other better and become more and more committed (after all, they did have an arranged marriage) he will eventually be completely immune to those former feelings for Persephone. I'm getting off on a tangent, but I guess what I am trying to say is that I thought the way the love situation was dealt with was very realistic, which I appreciated.
One complaint I have with this book was the CLIFFHANGER! I know it is a second book, and that trilogies make money on that kind of thing, but most books have some form of closure. This one was ruthless.
Warnings: Language, violence, some references to bedroom activity
Overall, while this series is not absolutely electrifying me, I am enjoying it. The books are fun and the added taste of mythology is something I always enjoy. I will be reading the third book in the series.