Thursday, May 26, 2011

Debut YA Review: The Goddess Test by Aimee Carter

Allow me to say this, before I get into the review: I am a huge mythology buff. The nature of human storytelling simply fascinates me, and thus I happily indulge in stories from around the world, including retellings and re-imaginings.

Naturally, as of late, this means lots and lots of retellings of Greco-Roman myths in various forms. At this point, I think I’ve seen pretty much everything. I’ve seen the gods continue to sire their half-immortal children into the modern age; the Trojan War redone as a high school football rivalry; and a hilariously bad comic book where they show up at the crucifixion to have a smack down with Jesus, among countless others.

I bring this up because there are, obviously, lots and lots of ways to bring the ancient Greek deities into the modern age, and do it well.

The Goddess Test does not do it well.

The story of Aimee Carter’s debut book is that of a teenage girl named Kate, who – after moving to a new school to support her dying mother (again with the dying moms, really?) meets the “dark, tortured and mesmerizing” Henry. Henry claims to be Hades, God of the Underworld, and promises to make Kate an immortal – and his wife – if she can past a set of seven tests.

The problem is, I get the distinct feeling that Ms. Carter has never read a book of Greek mythology, and instead scanned a series of links and titles in Wikipedia to create her godly characters. The gods as depicted in this book lack pretty much any interesting traits and are, instead, each boiled down to baffling singularities that don’t resemble their mythological selves in the slightest.

My first warning flag went up in the prologue (bad sign) where Henry/Hades is show talking with an empathetic woman named Diana, who keeps saying that she cares about him and acts like a close, loyal friend. The only problem is that a quick glance at the character list says that “Diana” was in fact Demeter, who, as anyone who knows Greek Myths would tell you, has no reason to be so affectionate with Hades and every reason to despise him instead.

Along that same vein, Henry is insufferably mopey. I know there’s a big market for brooding bad-boys in these sorts of books, but really, if anyone needed to be slapped with a “Cheer up emo kid!” sticker, it’s Henry. Again, nothing like the mythological Hades, and the other gods are just as bad.

Top that off with yet another bland heroine full of pretentious fake angst and, well, it’s pretty bad. The best I can say about it is that, for a teen PNR, it’s actually pretty well-written; but the characterization and (to be frank) bastardization of Greek myth is just too painful to make it worthwhile.

Final verdict from me: if you’re looking for a good Greek Myth read, grab the Camp Half-Blood/Percy Jackson/Lost Hero stories by Rick Riordan instead. They’re a much, much bigger bang for your buck.


  1. Weird comment, I know, but...

    I really wish bad books didn't haven pretty covers. I have this weird obsession with book covers and spines, but it defeats the purpose of my quirk when the words inside just don't mesh up.

    I'm adding this to the list of books not to recommend to my cousin. Thanks for the review!

  2. Great review! It's so true. I was wincing with the Greek mythological references (or lack thereof). I absolutely love Rick Riordan's novels.

  3. Elizabeth - I know exactly what you mean. I love book designs and think covers should be a work of art, so it's always disappointing to me when mediocre books have such gorgeous covers.

    Lucia - To tell the truth, I only just finished the Percy Jackson series. I'm totally late to the party. ^.^; But I have fallen in love with it, and I am glad you liked the review.