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The Goddess Test
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48 of 50 people found the following review helpful
on April 28, 2011
Format: Paperback
I want to start this review by saying that I'm not a teen. Nor am I your typical girl. Which I think means I am not exactly the target market for this book. That said, the premise was interesting, and I was really curious to see how the story would spin out in the novel.

The intro to the book is a scene with Hades/Henry, and it seemed an odd place to start. I didn't really `get' it, though at the end of the book, that scene makes sense. Once you get into everything with Kate, and her mother, the story really starts to flow and I have to say that this is a very well written book. Kate is a likable character - she is been nursing her sick mother, and agreed to move to virtually the middle of nowhere to grant her Mum's dying wish, even though it's the last place she really wants to be.

Really, we just want Kate to catch a break, and this seems to happen when she finds a friend in James. I really liked James, he was quirky, and unique - the kind of guy I would have been friends with in high school as well. Her other friend ends up playing a mean prank on her, dying, and then getting brought back to life by Henry/Hades, and that's when the real story starts.

Not a whole lot actually happens in the story, and like Kate, the reader is left to wonder when these tests are going to start happening. She endures very little actual hardship, in actual fact, life with Henry seems pretty rosy to me - great clothes, great food, and she gets to spend all her dreaming nights with her mother, who is healthy and whole in Kate's dream time. All in all, I consider her a fairly passive character. She doesn't make any huge choices beyond her initial agreement to Henry to spend 6 months with him if he brings her friend back to life, and by the end of the novel I am angry for her, and wish she would feel something more lukewarm than what she does.

I have a few issues with this novel, and perhaps if I were the target audience, I might have been able to ignore them. I actually like my Greek mythology though, and for anyone who is familiar with it, this book is probably going to grate on your nerves. Carter takes liberties a lot of the time - these are not Greek god/goddesses as you might know them, they are perhaps the politically correct, heavily moderated versions of them. Henry often refers to himself as `lord of hell' which just makes me cringe. That's not the only time that boundaries between religions are blurred, though I won't go into details as I don't want to spoil the story for anyone.

For the most part, this is an evenly written book, and if you can forgot about the fact it's meant to be based on Greek Mythology, then you can enjoy it. Unfortunately, I can't say that I was rooting for Henry to win Kate over. James was definitely my love interest of choice - as this is book one in a series, it will be interesting to see how that potential love triangle plays out.

That said. I'm still undecided whether I will pick up the next book. Again, without going into details as I don't want to spoil the read, the climax of the book was unforgivable for me. It frustrated me no end and I can't say that it left me with a lot of trust in the author. Sadly.

I really think that this book will appeal to the teen girl market though, or anyone who can put aside their past knowledge of Greek mythology and read the story for what it is, rather than what you might expect/hope it to be.

I gave it 3 stars, as it was a well written book, though obviously, I don't agree with a lot of the choices the author made. She can certainly write, so there is a good chance I'd pick up something else by her, though maybe not from this series.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on July 11, 2012
Format: Paperback
Originally posted on my blog: [...]


My 5-word review: I expected to be amazed...

This was my first book from Harlequin Teen Panel and I was so excited to get it, with its beautiful cover and all the hype. But I was sorely disappointed. I had expected to read something filled with mythological references and enough action to satisfy a bored, carsick teenager. Instead I found a dull romance with weak and depressing characters and a senseless plot.

I read the first few pages of The Goddess Test as soon as I received the book, and since there was also a chat with the author at the Teen Panel, most of us (me included) said we loved it. And I did. In the beginning. First off was the extremely suspenseful prologue, and then you were introduced to the protag with the dying mother and then there's the guy in the middle of the road who disappeared(!). All very intriguing. I loved the indescribable affection Kate has for her mom, and when she goes to school, all the characters seemed so vivid: the bubbly but jealous Ava, the mysterious jock Dylan, and of course, the unpopular nice guy James. Kate herself seemed highly relatable. I saw myself in her: the way she put up a wall and was disinclined to make friends (she was going to move back soon anyway), her quietly strong personality (I know that sounds like a compliment to myself LOL), and how she never really did learn how to swim. The scene where Ava tries to leave Kate by the river, but hits her head on a rock and dies, and is brought back to life by the hot and mysterious Henry (in exchange for her reading about Persephone and "being ready") is both scary and gripping. Unfortunately, that was the book's high point and it just went down from there.
The Goddess Test (Goddess Test, #1)
Awesome alternate cover

Now I hate trashing books and I also hate spoilers, so without going into too much detail, I can say that
compared to the beginning, the rest was very slow-paced and romance was the main element, which bothered me. It might just be my dislike of romance novels in general. It's possible that it's my own taste and not the author's sudden change of writing style, but you know what? I enjoyed Virtuosity. I adored Geek Girl. Heck, Pride and Prejudice is one of my favorite classics ever. So why not The Goddess Test?
* The slow pace. For most of the book, you're just slogging through each of her insignificant little problems where I could have been spending time on Henry's job as Hades, or more of the backgrounds of other characters (I know virtually nothing about Ella) or even a little more action in there somewhere.
* It just flew through the tests. I do like how she quietly inserted them in during every day life, but quickly narrating them in order to hide that they are tests also makes them seem really easy.
* Henry. I'm sorry but Henry just seemed like a watered-down version of Edward from Twilight - the same dark, pessimistic mood, the same extreme protectiveness, the quiet, fierce, inexplicable love.
* Speaking of which, the love. Inexplicable is exactly the right word for it. Just like Edward/Bella, Kate and Henry are just suddenly attracted to each other for some unexplained reason and before you know it, they're deeply in love. Why? How? *shrug*
* The end. The way the gods' identities and the judgement and the explanation of the tests was hurried, you'd think there was a tornado coming through when Carter wrote it. Could've at least told us why these gods were these specific people.

Overall, I'm very disappointed with how this book turned out. I'll want to read Book 2 (or rather Book 1.5) just to see what happens, but I've kinda lost interest. Sadface.

Goddess Interrupted (Goddess Test, #2)More About This Series: Well, I guess we're trying to cash in on the ".5" book craze, so there will be a free e-novella called The Goddess Hunt out March 1, 2012. Book 2 (Goddess Interrupted) will come out March 27, 2012 and the third in the trilogy (Goddess Inheritance) comes October 2012.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publishers in exchange for my honest thoughts.
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72 of 88 people found the following review helpful
on May 12, 2011
Format: Kindle Edition
**LOTS OF SPOILERS** I am too worked up to write anything without them.
The Olympians are looking for a new wife for Hades. (Persephone left him.) They have been looking for almost 100 years. This is their last chance before Hades fades (which is like dying but he couldn't die, being immortal and all).
The prologue leaves no doubt as to the identity of Kate, our lead girl.
Fast forward from there. Kate is 18. Her mom is dying of cancer. They are moving to a small town so the mom can die in peace. Kate goes to a new school. A mean girl pulls a terrible prank on Kate. Ava (the prank-puller) is dead in Kate's arm. A man offers to help Ava if Kate promises "one thing." Of course Kate says yes. I mean, he could be a doctor or something. She needs help. What else could she do? Leave Ava dead and be a suspect for murder?
For us readers though, there is no doubt who Henry is. I mean--black cloak, black hair, black big dog, and he goes "I'm Henry, and this is Cerberus" and "Have you ever heard the story of Persephone?" And then he proceeds to raise the dead.
OK. So Kate promises and now she has to go live with Henry/Hades and try to pass the test, the description and timing and nature of which is unknown.
OH Great! Now comes the exciting test and we will see how Kate wins, right? WRONG! NO NO NO! You don't get anything about the test again until the end of the book.
I offer you my friends the list of THINGS THAT ANNOY ME.
1. Kate. She seems pretty silly. OK, she cares about her mom. I get that. But I don't know why she cares about Henry or Ava THAT MUCH. Her decisions are just strange to me. Sometimes she is just plain dumb. She knows someone is trying to kill her. When she finds a mysterious present and Ava warns her not to touch it, she goes "it's a Christmas present, Ava. Ever heard of them?...I'm sure it isn't going to bite me."
And why the Greek gods are having a Christmas dinner is beyond me.
2. Kate and Henry quickly fall in love for no apparent reasons. On top of that, James (aka Hermes) also "intends to ask" Kate to be his wife too. Kate has no clue that James feels that way. Even after she knows, she still strings him along even after she marries Hades. At the end of the book they are going off together on a trip or something. I can see a love triangle forming in a sequal.
3. Henry is a sensitive boy/man. No. This is not the Hades you would expect. He did not kidnap Persephone! He cares about Kate. "I care so much that I do not know how to tell you without it seeming inconsequential compared to how I feel. Even if I am distant at times and seem as if I do not want to be with you, it is only because this scares me, too." WHOA. ISN'T THAT TOO SOPPY FOR THE RULER OF THE UNDERWORLD?
4. The 14 Olympians are present. Some of them you can spot pretty easily (James, Diana, Phillip). Guessing which Olympian they are is another matter. There is nothing particular about James. Diana? Is that an easy one? She must be Artemis. WRONG. She just borrows the Roman's name from Artemis. Phillip is the only easy one. He likes horses. How are we supposed to guess who is another god when some even serve in the manor as servants? Since when the Greek gods are so humble. Gone are the lustful, selfish, amoral Greek gods, now they take up Christianity and that how they test the new goddess!!! They are so out-of-character.
a. Zeus, Hera, Athena, and more are basically servants.
b. Hera is lusting after (or in love with) Hades. I mean, WHAT? She is the GODDESS of MARRIAGE. Why not Hestia or someone more possible? Apollo would be a more likely choice.
c. When Hera wants to kill, she runs after the victim with a knife, very goddessly.
d. Demeter likes Hades here. I mean, SHE HATES HIM. Remember Persephone, her other daughter!
e. Dionysus, Apollo, Ares are all described as cute, tall, gorgeous. No other discernible differences are there.
f. Zeus is giving a test about LUST! Look who's talking!
5. One last thing. The tests (there are seven) are silly. Henry gives Kate a whole bunch of clothes, some of which she dislikes anyway, and she gives some to others. That's the test for GREED. She passes! What a great girl! The last one by Demeter makes no sense. That one by Aphrodite also makes no sense. I still have not figured out how she passes that one.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on June 20, 2011
Format: Paperback
I really wanted to like this one. I really wanted this to be good. It was modern day, with Greek Gods, and tests and it looked promising so I wanted to enjoy this book. For the most part, I did. However, there were some things I just didn't like. So many things.

So Kate decides to give up anything and everything to this guy Henry, whom she just met, all to save her "friend" Ava who was stupid enough to kill herself. Kate and Ava just met, but Kate is willing to do all of this for Ava. It was just... unlikely to have really happened. It was a bit odd there, but I decided not to question it.

The thing Henry wants? He doesn't say. He just brings Ava back to life, tells Kate to look up about Persephone, and her answer will be there. Basically, he wants Kate to stay with him for half the year. A bit creepy, if you ask me, but let's play along. After all, he is Hades, lord of the underworld, as he has proven already, and it's best not to question that.

Kate also has to go through several tests along the way to see if she's worthy to be immortal and live with Hades for the rest of her life. To be honest, I was expecting something good. Some huge tests of something. I was close to finishing the book and still hadn't seen anything about a test, except a hint at gluttony. Still, I'm waiting for tests of some sort. Maybe since there's a second book, the tests will go into that book. Maybe. Or maybe I'm just kidding myself into thinking that tests that are going to kill nineteen other girls are really that hard. Because they aren't. They aren't real tests. Yay, you passed the test of greediness by telling your friends they can share jeans you got. Um... okay... how does that prove anything?

By the way, how in the world do GREEK GODS have CHRISTAIN SEVEN DEADLY SINS as tests? Um... not only is that completely and horribly wrong, but the gods themselves are so filled with the seven deadly sins it's not even funny. (Wait, if Greek Gods are Christian now, who is Jesus?) But wait! The gods aren't the same as we've learned! They're totally different! Hades is a big softy who never shows that he's harsh or evil. Hera, the freakin' goddess of MARRIAGE, lusts after other men. Zeus is one to judge on lust-talk about ironic. It's just... so messed up in so many ways.

I'm all up for rule breaking and doing something different. As long as it still holds to some sort of tradition. To have Hera, the goddess of marriage, not be faithful is bad. Just bad. It's like saying that Ares, the god of war, is a war protester interested in peace and love. It's so against them, so against their character that it makes no sense. So having Hera want another man, be in LOVE with another man, that's bad.

Loved the fact that the big gods, such as Hera and Zeus, were servants. Now that is ironic and so would not have happened at all.

Kate and Henry's relationship... while I could see her starting to fall for him and I liked that it wasn't "Oh, I love him" type of thing, it was so odd and strange to see Hades like the man he's shown to be. Very few occasions did Kate see a Hades that we all know and love, the mean, harsh, I'M THE KING OF THE DEAD guy. That was when he was actually doing his job of handling the dead. And the ironic thing? Kate didn't see "her man" in that guy! Of all things! Um... Hades is the Lord of the dead, pissed off at his brother because of that position, and not a happy camper. At. All. He's harsh, mean, etc. He's not a big softy that Kate says he is. He's not a romantic, which he is in this book.

Still wondering what made these girls all go crazy or just die. Because those tests were not that hard. At all. >.>

But out of everything, what really pissed me off was the end. Here Kate LOVES Henry/Hades, and is willing to marry him because she wants to. Yet, what's in the back of her mind? James. She wants to know about James. She heard he likes her and wanted her as his Queen, if he was to take over the Underworld. She views James as just a friend. But wait! There's some hidden doubt in the back of her mind where she's wondering about James. Um... if you LOVED Henry/Hades as you claim you did, you wouldn't be wondering. You would know you love Henry/Hades and no one else will do. But, she decides to question it. And then proceed to ask James to go with her on a summer vacation. Which is only setting it up for a love triangle and a huge mess. This is going to end badly. And what I hate more than anything is love triangles. Even more when there's no need to have one, which is the case here. There is NO NEED to have a love triangle. She knows she loves Henry/Hades. Why put doubt in the girl because some guy also likes her? Ruining the book just because it's "popular" to have a love triangle in a book and because everyone else is doing it. >.> Honestly.

Overall, it's an okay book. I don't mind a few things. I liked that it was different and Greek Gods. I hated how the Greek Gods were totally different and no research was put into it. I liked the romance starting to show. I hate how Henry was such a wuss. There is so much more I could say I liked or didn't like. Would I recommend it? Eh, maybe. Most likely not. Would I read the second book? Maybe. I would check it out at a library before I bought it though. I don't think I'll waste money on the second book when I know it's going to be clichéd. (And yes, it's set up to be clichéd.)

(Edit)I don't mean to say I don't enjoy it because I did enjoy this book. I just thought it wasn't as good as it could have been. If you know your Greek God history, you'll be a bit disappointed with the Greek Gods here. If you aren't entirely sure of the history, you might enjoy this more. For most of the book I did enjoy reading it. At least with the relationship between Kate and Henry/Hades.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on September 3, 2012
Format: Paperback
Review Copy Courtesy Of: My Local Library

Kate's dying mother, Diane's, last wish was to move back to her hometown of Eden, Michigan to live out her final days. Kate is less than thrilled leaving what little life she had in New York to move to a small town in Michigan's upper peninsula. She will, however, do anything to fulfill her mother's final wishes and make her comfortable.

Kate's first day of school has her making friends with James and quick enemies with Ava. When Ava pulls a horrible prank on Kate, Ava is the one who's life is in danger. When tall, dark, and mysterious Henry appears, he tells Kate that he can undo the damage that's been done to Ava but it will come with a Kate She agrees but decides, after the fact, not to accept the deal, after all, who wants to give up 6 months of their lives to live with someone they don't know. It all seems way too far fetched to be reality; that is until Ava ends up dead and Kate end's up feeling indirectly responsible.

After seeking out Henry to get explanations, he proposes a new bargain, one that if she accepts, will give her more time to spend with her dying mother. And one that will toss her into marriage, a life of a goddess, and ruler with Henry. To top it all off, she must also pass 7 tests.

The strength that Kate has in "The Goddess Test" is remarkable. She has to deal with a very tough family situation involving the only family member introduced, her dying mother. Her compassion and unselfishness towards Ava and their eventual friendship makes Kate a very likable character. Her budding romance with Henry is slow going but under the circumstances I would have expected nothing less. I became emotional during many interactions between Kate and Henry near the end of the novel. The passages were written so well and the emotions felt so real.

There is no question that I absolutely LOVED this novel. The weaving of Greek mythology into the plot gave this book a unique quality and was very interestingly developed. Please note that if you expect correct versions of the Olympians, you'll spend too much time brooding about the liberties and inaccuracies, and not enough time absorbed in an excellent book. This is a pleasure reading book of fiction, not a high school or college textbook.

The story is paced nicely; not too slow nor too fast. Each character has their story to tell and Ms. Carter does a great job. The plot twist at the end is fantastically played out and done so well that I was blindsided. This novel is an excellent debut and I'm looking forward to read more from this author. I will review Book 2, Goddess Interrupted, as soon as I'm able.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on July 14, 2011
Format: Paperback
I was initially attracted to this because I'm a classics person. I have a degree in it, so being just a tad interested in The Goddess Test is practically a given. Naturally I had my doubts that Greek mythology would turn out well in a YA market ever plagued with cliches and tired plot devices, but I decided to give it a chance.

The Goddess Test feels like it had three main inspirations: Twilight (without the strange addictive quality), Wicked Lovely (without the occasionally gorgeous writing) and Impossible (although, strangely, possessing more heart). Kate Winters moves from big metropolitan center because her mother is dying and wants to do so in her tiny Upper Peninsula town, and when she gets there she's surly to all and loved regardless (sound familiar?). Henry needs a bride to help him rule the Underworld, because apparently he's too inept to do it himself, but he's gone through so many potential brides who fail to pass muster that he's getting kind of depressed (ringing a bell?). Apparently in order to become an immortal and worthy of being Henry's bride, Kate must go through seven seemingly impossible tasks (must I go on?).

Anyway, due to some odd shenanigans, Kate agrees to becoming Henry's potential bride without really realizing that he's not a guy waiting to throw her into an unmarked van. This brings up a bunch of questions on its own, but while the process in getting Kate to the palatial estate is certainly convoluted, this is nothing compared to the attempts to reinvent Greek mythology to fit into modern ideals and the YA mold.

The attempt to repackage Greek mythology is contrived and rather awkward. Hades as sweet, brooding, virginal Henry is a tough sell, and the idea doesn't really ever get off the ground. Why? Because in Greek myth, Hades was a ruthless kidnapper and rapist, that's why. One attempt by a mortal to seduce Persephone away wound up with said mortal getting stuck to a chair in hell for all eternity, and the guy hadn't even done anything yet. It's a stretch to recast this larger than life persona as a cookie cutter YA love interest and, what's more, make him innocent and sympathetic. It's even harder to understand why Greek gods would care about things like the seven deadly sins, or why morals would play a part in deciding whether or not Kate gets to become one of them. The Greek gods, traditionally speaking, didn't care about sin. In fact, they committed all of them gleefully and repeatedly. Why Kate has to be a paragon of virtue to be included is beyond me.

This repackaging isn't helped by the writing, which reveals information like whispered gossip and accidentally drops clues through eavesdropping or casual asides that are hastily covered up because Kate shouldn't know about this or that because she might become upset. Naturally Kate shouldn't know that someone's out to make sure she won't succeed, and Kate shouldn't know who wants to take Hades's realm away from him, but we can't make that info clear without accidentally dropping a clue and quickly covering it up or snapping at her that she can't know that yet. This could be debut book roughness, but it doesn't help matters at all.

The strongest aspect of the book is certainly the relationship between Kate and her dying mother, but as others have noted that relationship is cheapened during final revelations. The slow build between Henry and Kate is also handled as well as it can be, although I think there is a fine line this book is trying to walk between Kate being held against her will and choosing to stay of her own volition. It doesn't necessarily work, especially when the book starts attempting to reveal that she always had choice to begin with. At the end, it's hard to believe Kate had any choice available to her whatsoever.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Format: Paperback
Oh boy. Where to start?

I really loved the premise of this book, and got about halfway through until things stretched out far too long and became...not boring, exactly, but I was losing interest quickly. With the dead coming back to Henry's mansion, I saw the Ava twist a mile away - same with Mom coming back. The test idea was brilliant but poorly executed, and I felt that Carter didn't quite find her voice.

A shame, really, because this could have been so much better than it turned out to be. Had the test part come up sooner and the lull between going to Henry's and the tests been shortened significantly, I think that the novel would have turned out loads better. I may or may not read the next one to see what happens, but I'm really pretty torn up that this didn't turn out as well as I'd hoped.

(Original review posted at crossposted to librarything, goodreads, and shelfari.)
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13 of 17 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon April 19, 2011
Format: Paperback
Also appears on The Screaming Nitpicker. My copy was provided to me by the publishers via Netgalley. BEWARE! I spoil the entire novel and then some in this review.

As her mother dies of cancer, eighteen-year-old Kate Winters takes her to Eden, Michigan so her mother can die in peace in her quiet hometown. Kate's plans are to stay until her mother dies and then return to new York City, but it doesn't work out this way. She meets Henry, who calls himself a Greek god, and will keep Kate's mother alive a little longer, along with bringing a dead girl back to life. In exchange, Kate will spend every fall and winter for the rest of her life with him and undertake seven tests. If she passes the tests, Kate will become a goddess and Henry's wide. If she fails, it's probably because someone murdered her.

Since there's only one or two good points to this novel, I may as well get them out of the way. At first, I kind of liked Kate. Despite being whiny at first about being in a small town and some guys maybe-liking her, she sucks it all up when she gets stuck in a tough situation. I admired that. She did something not many people would do: risked her life and have away half of the rest of her life because she cared so much about her friends and family. The emotion Kate felt when dealing with her mother's impending death felt real instead of over-exaggerated. She also cared enough about having her choice that someone died because of her determination to have a choice. By the end of the novel, I not longer liked Kate at all. More on that later.

There were two points in this novel that could have been expanded into something more interesting: Kate's feelings for Henry and one other point I can't even remember because this book lacked so little originality. Having Kate be in love with Henry when he didn't return her feelings would have been awesome because that's CONFLICT, and it's also a conflict few young adult authors are willing to touch. She would have been forced to deal with it and that's something that keeps people reading. Nope, just shortly after Kate's realization, Henry reveals he's in love with her too. Point that could have taken this book from "just another YA paranormal" to "that book where the heroine's love stays unrequited" is null and void. Ugh.

Wait, I take back what I said about the book lacking originality. It does have some originality in there: It is original in how badly it slaughters Greek mythology.

You see, when you write Greek mythology, it should resemble Greek mythology when done well. That means that the gods lack morals, do what they want, screw around, and do stuff that is inappropriate for young children to read about.. If you don't, the biggest Greek mythology fans will make you rewrite the book by hand and use your blood as the ink in your pen. The people who are supposedly Greek gods in this novel act nothing like the gods people know from the myths. If you have to put a table at the end of the book that tells you which character was which god or goddess, YOU'RE DOING IT WRONG. You're also calling your reader an idiot who can't figure out who's who. Maybe you should try showing the reader within the confines of the story which person is which god/goddess instead of listing it off later.

Another thing you shouldn't do is mix mythologies. Greek and Christian mythology have nothing to do with each other. Heck, the stuff in just one Greek myth would violate at least fifty Christian principles. The Greek gods are not going to base their tests off the seven sins of Christianity. They have no morals, so why would they use tests of morality to decide whether or not a girl became a goddess? This makes no sense. Some may also find disturbing undertones when realizing that the men did great quests or physical and mental feats to earn immortality and for girls, it's apparently a test of their morality.

Oh, another bit of nonsense! We all know who Hera is, right? Goddess of marriage? Wife of Zeus who did not take adultery lightly? Yeah, she's in love with Hades here and kills all the girls who have even the slightest chance of becoming his new wife. It makes no sense at all for Hera to be the villain because according to who she is, she is the last one that would commit adultery or break the vows of marriage. She was never in love with Hades and screwing around with the myths for the sake of the plot will not win over any fans of Greek mythos. Then again, considering that these gods and goddesses are nothing like the "real" gods and goddesses...

No one in this novel gets any depth whatsoever. Henry, James, Ava, Kate, everyone else--they're pretty much caricatures. They get touches at certain moments, but it's all for nothing. The plot plods along, the functional writing keeps up with that slow pace, and the chapters always end with cliffhangers that are closer to frustrating than enticing. If you're observant, you'll see twists and the big shocker ending coming from a mile away. I started seeing hints of it halfway through when all these people Kate knew in Eden start showing up in Henry's home as people who will help Kate pass her seven tests. The prologue has to be one of the most blatant hints in the novel.

And the ending. Oh God, the ending. The reader will either love it or hate the crap out of it. In the circles I run in, most hate it, including me. The implications that Kate was born just so she could be raised and "given the opportunities" to become Henry's wife are very uncomfortable. Kate's reaction wasn't anything close to in-character. This girl, who cared so much about having a choice that it killed Ava a second time, suddenly finds out that it was more like she had an illusion of choice instead of an actual one. And she's okay with this? (Just a side note, but Demeter hated Hades. She would never do what she did for him in this book.) Yeah, that's not the Kate I knew.

This could have easily gotten a worse rating. The few good parts were pretty good and the bad parts were bad on a level I wasn't sure existed. This is just another title in the young adult fantasy crowd, one girls will pick up and fall in love with despite all of its inaccuracies and uncomfortable implications. Anything that could have made this novel something new was killed off before it could even sprout. I thought about picking up its sequel Goddess Interrupted in 2012, but I'm not sure I want to now. That would be a waste of my money.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Format: Paperback
High school senior Kate Winters is devastated by her mother's impending death from cancer. To grant her mother's final wish of being able to die at home, they relocate from New York to the tiny hamlet where her mother grew up. Once there, Kate discovers that many of the students at her school are actually Greek gods. After Kate's classmate Ava plays a mean hazing prank on her, and loses her life in an accident, Kate begs Henry, otherwise known as Hades, God of the Underworld, to bring her back to life. In exchange, Kate agrees to live with him for half of the year.

This was a book that I wanted to love, that I tried to love, but that didn't quite win me over. I love the Persephone myth and I had assumed that being the love interest of Hades would put Kate in the Persephone role. I expected her to embody some of the things from the original myth, particularly the idea of eating/not being able to eat. I thought it would be great if Kate gained some skill in working with the dead and/or comforting the grieving, especially considering her own history of having dealt with her mother's cancer. And, part of the Persephone story is the idea that she has to finally learn some independence from her mother. Persephone, in addition to being the Queen of the Underworld, is also the goddess of spring, so I hoped that Kate might gain some kind of superpower over plants. Nothing I had speculated could have prepared me for the actual book, however.

To start with, Ava seemed like a terrible friend. I could understand why it was noble for Kate to make a sacrifice to bring her back to life -- she's bringing Ava back to life, even though she totally doesn't deserve it. But, then, Kate continues to stick by Ava's side, who is as unrepentantly bitchy and difficult to like as ever.

Kate must pass a series of tests to prove herself worthy. If she makes it through, then she'll be granted eternal life as Henry's bride. If she doesn't, it's implied that she'll die. I kept waiting for the tests to start... and more than half-way through the book, we learn that several of the tests have already been applied, and Kate doesn't even know what they are. What a let-down! Much later, it's finally revealed that the tests are based on the Seven Deadly Sins. Again, I was really baffled as to why the Greek gods would want to use a Biblical test on Kate.

Henry seemed dark and brooding, which seemed appropriate for someone who works in the underworld. I love a male hero who is shy and sensitive, and was excited for him to slowly win over Kate with his gentle charm. That never happened though! There is such a thing as wanting to be a gentleman to a fault, experiencing some misunderstandings and miscommunications between romantic leads, and even being terribly inexperienced and lacking confidence. Henry seemed to take things beyond that level though and really came across as a cold fish. Of course, it's understandable that he's terribly hung up on Persephone, which obviously didn't work out well for him. But he doesn't seem to like Kate, at all. After months of living in his mansion, Kate screws up the courage for a kiss, which is really more like a dry peck, and he doesn't even kiss her back. He doesn't even seem tempted! Later, much later, under the influence of a aphrodisiac potion they sleep together, but even that does not seem terribly passionate.

More than anything I wanted this book to be much more literal in its' interpretation of Greek myths. I was so ticked when I read the endnotes and saw that Calliope, one of the servants in Henry's house assigned to work with Kate is supposed to embody Hera. That makes no sense! Shouldn't Calliope be... well, Calliope, the muse of poetry? Ella, another servant who runs Kate's wardrobe in the mansion delights in stuffing Kate into uncomfortable corsets, which struck me as quite odd as well. Wouldn't Greek gods have a preference for hymations and other loose, flowing Greek clothing?

After three years of cancer treatments, Kate is still shell-shocked at the thought of losing her mom. Later, when it turns out her mother was a goddess all along, I wondered why the whole "I have cancer" game was necessary. If I was in Kate's shoes I would be so, so angry at having been put through three years of hell, by a mother who knew darn well that she was not, in fact, dying of cancer, since she was an immortal being.

For readers looking for a darker, more lyrical take on the Persephone story, I would recommend Laurie Halse Anderson's Wintergirls. Readers looking for a decent paranormal romance will find many of the same themes, especially the girl who must undergo tests to achieve immortality, in Melissa Marr's Wicked Lovely series. Younger readers looking for a clean take on the Greek gods with a look at the Seven Deadly Sins will flock to Carolyn Hennessy's Pandora series.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon June 11, 2011
Format: Paperback
My Rating: Two ratings: Technical - 2.5 / 5 wings; Enjoyment - 3.5 / 5 wings.

My Opinion:
I could go on for days reading about all the Greek myths that are available. The gods, particularly Hades, Artemis, and Athena, were my favorite aspects of the myths. So, to have them make an appearance in THE GODDESS TEST made me quite giddy. Then to discover that TGT was based upon the Hades/Persephone myth? Well, I requested the book yesterday (3/3/11) on NetGalley, got approved right away, and spent the rest of the night reading it on the computer.

The threat of a horrible headache (from reading on a computer for way too long) and a 13 hour day of classes in the city, however, did not deter me from my reading goal. Why then, you must all be wondering, did she give the book such weird ratings? It was difficult. While I enjoyed the novel, was engrossed with what was happening (minimal skimming), there were technical problems which lessened my enjoyment. There were a few points where I would have preferred to close this book and never open it again because some of the scenes or characters were too ridiculous.

The mother/daughter relationship is what ultimately engrossed me with the tale from page one. I found myself continually tearing up in the beginning as Kate attempted to cope with her mother's illness and the fact that she would be alone soon. I have a wonderful relationship with my mother, and love her very much, which is why I had such ease relating and absolutely adoring the start to TGT. Had I been in Kate's position, I do not think I would have been so composed, which is why I respected her as a character also.

Alas, that relationship is soon cast aside as the paranormal swarms into Kate's life. I read that some reviewers felt the relationship Kate had with her mother was cheapened towards the end, but I did not think so. I was disappointed that Kate's entire attention span transferred from her mother to an emo punk, but she's a teen, and I think what happened was supposed to ween her off her dependency.

I had high hopes for Hades, aka Henry. I wanted him to be badass, I wanted him to woo Kate off her feet and seduce her into the role of Persephone. To bad it did not happen, and Kate was the awkward wooer. I was disappointed about how two dimensional Henry's character was at the start, and even towards the end. While I read all the scenes with him, he came off as apathetic in my mind--dull, even. I am also not buying the fact that he would let Persephone stumble upon such a fate in this book, reinventing a myth or not. Persephone's fate aside, Henry's characterization could use a lot of work in order for him to come alive for me.

Now that I'm talking about characterization, I might as well mention that this was my primary problem with the novel. None of the characters felt alive to me. Even Kate had her moments where she felt more like a paper-cutout and less like a real person. The only instances where the book and its characters truly felt genuine were the moments of interaction between Kate and her mother. The rest... I wish the secondary characters had more to them to make me care, because damn it, I wanted to care.

Suspending disbelief was a close second. I could not believe some of the friendships that were so easily accepted by Kate. There were no reasons whatsoever for Kate to feel such loyalty to some of the characters she just met. There was no reason for her to sacrifice her life for a girl who wanted to harm her.

Complaints aside, I think me reading this book in one night reveals that I still enjoyed myself. I think that's why I've given this book two ratings. For the enjoyment factor, it was definitely a 3.5 star book, and I want to recommend it to most people I know, but for the technical aspects, it is clear that this is a debut author's book. Some elements incorporated into the story needed to be fleshed out more, and because they weren't, they worked against the novel.

The weaknesses are what will make or break this book for some readers. I already know that most readers I usually agree with when it comes to disliking a YA will probably not enjoy TGT. I also know that many will adore it, because the positives will probably outweigh the negatives for them. To be completely honest, I'm still not sure how this book kept me going, but it did, and I want to know what happens in book 2.

Would I recommend THE GODDESS TEST to readers? Yes and no. Those who generally have similar tastes in YA books as me probably won't enjoy this novel as a whole, unless they have some weird "holy crap" moment like I did. For those readers, I would suggest checking the book out at the library or seeing if they can borrow from a friend/request from NetGalley if they still want to read TGT. I do not think an excerpt will be adequate, because the first few chapters were so beautifully written that I wanted to 5-star this book initially. As for everyone else, yes, yes you should get this book, and you should get it fast; it's a great read, and one you'll probably adore.
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