Genre: YA Paranormal/Fantasy/Mythology spinoff
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
# of pages: 304 (pb)
The Goddess Test @ Parental Book Reviews
Recommended for: HS & Beyond
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.Raise your hand if you check out reviews of a book right before you read it. I must have read at least fifteen reviews for The Goddess Test on Goodreads and the blogs and many if not most of them said the same things: the mythological characters (Greek gods, in other words) are portrayed very differently from the real myths, Hades in particular doesn't seem very Hades-ish, and there's a bit of religion-mixing with regard to the plot.
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.
Now here's where I come in: yeah, all of those things are true, and for me, they totally worked.
Yep, there was something very 'cool' (for lack of a better word...it's been a long day) about this book, about its plot, about the characters. I thoroughly enjoyed it and read it pretty fast, too!
For one thing, The Goddess Test was consistently (read: always) interesting. The main character, Kate Winters, was one of the more cheer-worthy heroines I've encountered lately. She possessed a lot of the qualities I like to see in a protagonist: she was kind and considerate of others (read: 'I'm not the orbital center of the solar system') and she had a sense of loyalty that would make Lassie herself seem like a flake. However, the girl really needs a self-esteem injection. It didn't always seem like she was the most balanced character, because several times throughout the story she would let other characters completely walk all over her, which made her seem kind of weak. But I thought the way she wanted to help her mom (and Henry) really sweet.
Henry/Hades was actually my favorite character. Depending on how many other reviews you've read of The Goddess Test, you may have noticed some disappointment over his portrayal. Honestly, I kind of liked the way Henry was portrayed here, even if he didn't seem very Hades-ish. And there was one thing about him in particular that I really liked, but hardly see anymore in YA lit, so that was fun. However, the synopsis labels him "dark" and "tortured," which I did not think he was. Actually, he was more gentlemanly and distant; I didn't get much of the 'tortured' vibe.
When you think of Hades...you think Hades and Persephone, right? Maybe? Well, The Goddess Test is not supposed to be a retelling of that myth. Just thought I'd reiterate that, because I definitely expected it to be. I actually thought this book had more in common with the myth of Cupid and Psyche (girl goes to a big palace-y place and befriends the staff...has to pass all these tests...falls for an elusive guy she doesn't know all that well...angry/jealous family members wreak havoc...). The tests that Kate had to pass were kind of downplayed throughout the story, and you didn't really even find out what they were until the very end. I would have liked to have seen the tests take more focus, but I have a feeling there will be way more in store for Kate and company later!
My word to those fellow mythology lovers who gobbled up Percy Jackson and are looking for the newest must-have myth-based book: go into The Goddess Test with an open mind. Ms. Carter certainly is a creative girl who has a fascinating story to tell, so I wouldn't expect the "god/goddess" characters to be too similar to their real myth counterparts. If you have to, imagine them as completely separate characters.