Speculating on SpecFic

Fantastic Literature: From epic fantasy to fairytales to myth-making

The Goddess Test  - Aimee Carter I love mythology – I used up all my electives at University studying it! So I’m intrigued retellings of myths and was very excited to read The Goddess Test. I enjoyed the story line and some of the relationships in it, but I found the Greek immortals to be highly incongruous to what I had expected. This, coupled with the inexplicable actions of the protagonist, retracted from my reading experience and I found myself not enjoying the book as much as I had hoped.I like the pacing of the plot because everything seems to progress naturally and there is never a moment where the story falls flat or progresses too quickly. While I found Kate’s scepticism about Henry being Hades annoying, I can understand it a little bit (although she still harbours disbelief after seeing him use his powers, which is odd) and I like their relatively slow realisation that they have things in common. As they get to know one another, their feelings grow, and I enjoyed it much better than the insta-love that permeates much of YA these days. Henry, his role in the Underworld, and the state of the Greek pantheon in general is slowly revealed so that we get closer to finding out the truth as the story progresses, which prevented me from being too confused about what was going on. I also like that there aren’t any glaringly obvious clues to who was behind the killings of the other candidates, and when it was revealed I was as surprised as anyone else.My favourite aspect of the book is definitely the relationship Kate has with her mother. So much of YA has absent or uncaring parents, but in this book Kate and her mother have a wonderful bond, and I have to say Kate’s mum is pretty cool. She wants her daughter to find happiness and encourages her to stop shutting herself off from the world and make friends. Kate, on the other hand, cares so much about her mother that she will do anything to save her, and struggles with the idea of saying goodbye. The author has a very clever way of keeping Kate’s mum in the story so she has a confidant – and through this we get glimpses of what Kate’s life was like before her mother’s cancer developed.I understand that re-tellings allow authors to take liberties with their characters, but I feel that Carter has made her Greek Gods and Goddesses unrecognisable and only superficially related to those in myths. This would have been acceptable if the book was focussed on how the Greek immortals are different from the myths that humans tell, but from what I gathered this is all skipped over and we’re meant to believe that the lying, manipulative, promiscuous Greek Gods never existed. The Gods that Carter describes are surprisingly tolerant and apologetic, and while they are not above manipulation they certainly seem to feel very guilty about it. Their tests to determine if one is worthy of immortality seem contradictory to me: they want some kind of paragon of purity in every sense of the word, but they themselves are anything but. Couple this with the horrible way Kate treats Ava for sleeping around and the improbability of Henry being a virgin after millenia of existence, and you’re left with a book that is almost laughable in its naivety and borders on preachy.I’m also not entirely convinced that I like Kate. I like her pragmatic nature and think that she is a good narrator, but her reactions to things are a bit odd. Even after seeing Henry bring one of her friends back from death, Kate reneges on her part of their agreement and convinces herself that there wouldn’t be consequences. When something horrible does happen, she claims she thought he was only joking. This is really weird – if I knew someone with power over life and death, I’d do what they told me to quick-smart! Even after she is warned that other candidates have been mysteriously injured or killed, and that she should be suspicious of anything out of the ordinary, she wants to open a Christmas present sent to her anonymously. Kate also completely flips out over a test on Greek mythology, even though she has been told that her tests to become immortal are unlikely to be knowledge tests but rather tests of character, and she will most probably not even know when they are being conducted. Kate is irrational and doesn’t listen to anything anyone says and then has the gall to be surprised when the unexpected happens.I feel The Goddess Test has been a worthwhile read – I enjoyed the plot and the sweet romance – and I will be continuing with the series. I am, however, hoping that the situation with the Greek immortals is dealt with in subsequent works (I want to know why they are so different from the mythology) and I hope the characters, especially Kate, flesh out a bit more. I feel that fans of YA will enjoy the book, but advise those who love Greek mythology to approach it with an understanding that the mythology has been heavily altered.You can read more of my reviews at Speculating on SpecFic.