Friday, August 12, 2011

Review: "The Goddess Test" by Aimée Carter

The Goddess Test by Aimee Carter
Reading Level: Young Adult
eBook ARC: 297 pages
Publisher: Harlequin Teen, 19 April 2011
Source: Netgalley

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. (quoted from Goodreads)

As far back as I can remember, I have been in love with mythology. When I heard The Goddess Test was a new take on Hades (but without Persephone), I was immediately intrigued. I love when authors are able to successfully take a myth (or fable, fairy-tale, what have you), turn it on its head, and create something magnificent. Aimee Carter is one such author and she did a fantastic job giving the Hades-Persephone tale a new and refreshing spin.

Aimee sure knows how to populate a novel with wonderful characters! Kate, as our heroine, was no less than amazing. She was caring, strong, smart and resourceful. Though her struggles were many - and her situation unusual - she remained true to herself and tried to see the best in everyone and everything around her. And when Kate wants to know the truth of something, she goes searching for answers instead of waiting for them to come to her. Fantastic. Her relationship with her Mum was sweet and touching; Kate was so willing to do anything to make her as happy and comfortable as she could be under the circumstances. I also liked her relationship with Henry and how the pacing of it was fluid and realistic. Though she was promised to marry him (if she passed the tests), Kate still took the time to get to know Henry, making it possible for her to truly care for him.

Speaking of Henry... another aspect of The Goddess Test that I really enjoyed was how Aimee depicted the well-known character of Hades. Quite frequently Hades is seen as this villainous Lord of the Underworld who takes pleasure in playing with and torturing the souls of mankind. As a god who kidnaps a beautiful young woman (Persephone), forces her to marry him and keeps her trapped for half the year against her will. I, on the other hand, have maintained the belief that Hades is just lonely and terribly misunderstood. With that said, Henry was pretty much how I always imagined his character to be. He can be powerful and firm when need be, but is ultimately a tender guy who is quite lonely and vulnerable. I loved every single moment Henry was in the picture. I found myself hoping like mad he would be able to find true happiness by the end.

The other supporting characters were also a wonderful compliment to the story and Kate herself. All of them were well fleshed out and interesting. Ava was a difficult character for me to like at times, but I think she had her charms. James was fantastic and I found myself wishing I had a friend like him; any time Kate needed him, he was right there. Kate's friends, teachers and even servants brought such lively humor, serious drama and touching moments, that I found myself completely engrossed in this enchanting novel.

The Goddess Test was an amazing ride! Though I was able to predict some things, I was still pleasantly surprised by others. I kept an eye out for Kate's tests, but I got a bit confused and gave up looking for them, which was a little frustrating. I mean, wasn't that one of the reasons why she was in Chateau Henry to begin with? Thankfully, everything was cleared up and resolved most satisfactorily by the end. So many amazing twists and turns, mysteries and wonders, relationships and emotions! The Goddess Test is a fantastic, well-written debut novel full of wonderful characters and an engaging plot. I highly recommend it to any and all ready to get lost in myth, mystery and romance.

Now I just need to wait (im)patiently for the sequel, Goddess Interrupted. I'm so excited to see where Aimee takes us next!

A favorite quote: "Whatever obstacles you face, remember you can get through anything if you want to badly enough."

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