From the author's website: "It's always been just Kate and her mom--and now 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.
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.
If she fails..."
WARNING: Spoilers contained within.
Interesting fact for you: I'm a skimmer. On my first go through, I read books really quickly and skim a lot. This means that for this blog, I do a fair bit of rereading to make sure that I give books a fair review here rather than just thoughts on the parts of the book I managed to catch on my first read through. Some books improve for this. Others suffer. A lot. This is one of those books. When I had first finished The Goddess Test, I was fairly sure I was going to give it a six or so. Light fare, enjoyable, with very loose interpretations of mythology. I had really skimmed it quite quickly, however, and I felt I must give it a better read.
Wow, I should never have done that. What had been an enjoyable read because an eye-rolling exercise in anger. The problem is related to the second interesting fact about myself -- I'm a huge mythology fan. When I was younger, I'd read any book on mythology I could get. That included a set of Encyclopedia Britannica that I'd pull out and cross-reference, happily reading about little know demigods and muses and prophets. I enjoyed Greek mythology the best, but would dabble with Roman, Norse, Mayan, and Japanese mythology. Frankly, The Goddess steps all over mythology like it is dirt, which made me want to weep.
Kate is a rather silly heroine. She seems to have no friends or feelings about anything other than her mother. Since she is close to her mother and her mother is dying, this seems somewhat explained, but it is still obnoxious and allows all of her time and energy to be wasted on Henry, a morose, sad sack of a hero, who angsts around his home with all his might. When Henry basically attempts to bargain with Kate so that her mother can live for a while longer, Kate agrees and is forced to live as a horrible prisoner in a gorgeous home with a gorgeous guy who wants her to be his wife (she's sixteen, I think!) and she's forced to attend picnics and wear pretty clothing (which she sulks and sulks about). Oh, and she's forced to study mythology. She is also taking tests, but we, like Kate, are never aware when Kate is being tested, which is annoying and vague.
Luckily, Kate has several friends in the house, including one from her week or two in Eden -- Ava. And Ava is where I go nuts with this book. At one point, Ava sleeps with two different men in a very short period in the book. This in a roundabout way leads to one of the men killing the other man. At this point, these paragraphs happens:
"You didn't hack him into little pieces, but you're the reason it happened." I stopped in front of the bed, running my fingers through my hair. "Ella wants you gone. Frankly, if all you're going to do is waste your time sleeping with every guy in the manor and acting like the world revolves around you, then so do I. You're useless here. The only things you've done are bicker with Ella and get Xander killed."Of course you feel guilt, Kate. You just slut-shamed. And it made me ashamed of you. Ava's sin is to sleep with two guys ("EVERY GUY IN THE MANOR") within the same month. One of them then forces the hand of the other to cause his own death. How the hell is this Ava's fault? It's not.
The moment I said it, I regretted it, but I couldn't take it back. It was the truth, or at least an exaggeration of it. But when I looked at Ava, I saw a scared girl who was my friend, not the heinous, selfish whore I'd painted her as. My stomach twisted, and guilt flooded through me so fast that I felt like I was choking.
Regardless, at the end of the book, we learn that Kate's tests are all related to the seven sins. (Those Greek Gods are really big on the cardinal sins of the Catholic Church!) But the tests are almost deemed unimportant, not being administered by anything besides fate (not the Fates, but just random pure luck), apparently, and rather nonsensical for the most part. Also, why not call the book The Goddess Tests?
Did I like anything at all about this book, you're asking? I liked that (spoiler) the gods totally portray a huge farce to test Kate. That seems like something the Greek gods would do and they wouldn't be apologetic about it at all. I liked that I didn't realize a lot of the mysteries of the book until the end. I read a few reviews which stated that they were all over realizing everything like who the murdered in the book was, but I had no clue. And I liked James. <3
I'm unsure if I'll read the next book in this series. I did enjoy the book the first time I read it, but now I know it's not my favorite.
Verdict: 4. I really had a fight with myself over a four or a five, but ultimately went with a four because while I did enjoy it on my first time through my second read through made me so damned angry. I warn you to never read this carefully.
Thoughts: Calliope? Diana? Really? Why not just name all of your characters different mythological names which have nothing to do with their role? It's a good thing that Kate is really dumb, or she might wonder if Calliope is the muse of poetry, which she is not. This is so incredibly odd to me. At least Diana could be considered a common enough name that this might occur, but Calliope is not exactly your every day name. It's like having a book about Norse mythological characters and naming one of the characters Freyja and then not having the real Freyja in the book!
Also, why do the gods have nothing better to do that hang out at Henry's all the time? One would think that administrating love, the sea, and travel would cause some busy times, but apparently not. Also, why doesn't Apollo heal in this book at all? It's always Hades or Zeus doing the healing.