Wednesday, January 2, 2013

The Goddess Test

When I was an upperclassmen in High School and looking for colleges I was fascinated by the many schools I could ultimately choose from to apply to. I wanted to go to school for one of two things, art or English, and I didn't decide for sure until I was 17 -- my senior year. Still, prior to that I went on the numerous college visits that were common for kids of my age and fell in love with nearly every school I visited. It was chilly and cold when I went to visit Sarah Lawrence College and in the morning hours as I meandered and prepared to meet up with the prospective student event I met with a girl. She was my age and interested in a lot of the same things as myself. My parents talked to her father and she and I hung around one another. I remember being fascinated that we both shared the like of reading and I bet she doesn't even have the faintest memory of me. Ultimately, once the prospective student events began we separated and I didn't see her again. I believe there were a few emails exchanged and we talked on Livejournal once or twice but she stuck in my mind, grouped with my experience at Sarah Lawrence College, and I occasionally would think of her through out the years and her writing.

Imagine my pleasant surprise when I saw her name printed on YA books at the Barnes and Noble I frequent. It's been nearly 10 years since I saw her on that college campus when I had all the dreams for the future and now, well, here we are. So now I face a different sort of review: how to write a review of a book by someone you've met and know (even if it was for a brief amount of time) and not have my personal opinion get in the way.

I picked up The Goddess Test and placed it on my nightstand, ready for consumption. It didn't take me long to read and once I was done I sat on it for a bit (not literally) before writing this review. I looked over the reviews of some other readers, positive and negative, and tried to put my thoughts on paper.

I enjoy any books that incorporate mythology with a modern day setting or "normal" people. Percy Jackson, Deathless -- these are two books (series) that I really adore which use mythology and use it well. For The Goddess Test I am not entirely sure if it is done well in the broad sense of the word but it's done well for those who adore supernatural romance in YA genre.

We have the token good girl, Kate, who is new to a school, moving to a town in Michigan with her dying mother, who isn't that pretty but pretty enough and has never really been in relationships or had many friends. We've seen this before. What breaks her from the mold of most YA books (well, most, this isn't unheard of) is that Kate is essentially the caregiver of her mother who is dying from cancer. I appreciated this in the book -- death and sickness can be handled poorly in literature, especially in YA books, but this was well written and had some honest pain filtered through Kate's actions and thoughts. Out of the entire story, Kate's overwhelming stress over her mother's health seemed to be the most lifelike emotions in the book.

Quite quickly Kate gets pulled into this mysterious world where girls are being brought back from the dead and she is making promises with a man who thinks himself a god. This was where I began to have some problems with the storyline and Kate's character. While part of the time she was going, "No, there aren't gods and this isn't real" she was still following through with everything expected of her and didn't seem to truly be having issues not believing things were real. She sort of folded and just went into the world that was "fake" to her with little fight. I feel that if a guy made someone come back to life in front of me I would have had a stronger reaction. I feel that if I was brought into a house and demanded to stay there to pass "tests" and didn't believe in anything that was going on, I wouldn't have gone from day to day so smoothly.

Kate seems to be border lining feminist but falling short. She doesn't want to wear dresses! She is more modern than that! But she is quick to judge her apparent best friend with her sexual activity. Social etiquette and expectations aside, let's focus on the gods aspect of the story.

Kate is surrounded by a host of Greek gods and I appreciate the idea that they continue to live, although they are not still worshiped, however they can slip into nothing once their purpose has disappeared. I enjoyed that Kate had to pass a list of tests in order to become a goddess herself and through out the book you are given few clues about what the tests may be. Every time there was something going on I was thinking, "Could this be a test? Is this possible?"

When it's revealed that (SPOILER) the tests are actually the Seven Deadly Sins I was a little put off... because the Greek mythology is all over those sins and have managed to attack those sins with a need like an alcoholic to liquor. They love their incest and greed and lust and all of that fun stuff. So to have something that is ultimately Christian arrive in a book that is Greek mythology based was... interesting. I'm not entirely sure what other type of tests she could have performed but the tie between two religions seemed a little strange.

Still, despite my issues with The Goddess Test when it ended I was happy for Kate and glad to see what happened with each character had indeed happened. Was I impressed enough to go for the next book in the series? I have to apologize, Aimee Carter, and say that I am not. But, that means little in the grand scheme of things. As I said: this is a good book for those who love YA supernatural romance stories and while I dive into such subjects every couple of books it isn't a genre that I immediately rush to. The book was entertaining and I feel that it therefore served its purpose. Books are meant for entertainment, aren't they? And this book provided me with such while I was very overwhelmed and stressed with other things going on. For that, I am grateful, and I hope to bring this book to my favorite used bookstore so that they may sell it to someone who will appreciate it and love it much more than I am capable of doing. 

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