Aimée Carter's debut novel, The Goddess Test, is a "modern-day sequel" to the myth of Persephone.1
Highschooler Kate Winters2 moves from New York City to Eden, Michigan so that her mother, who is dying of cancer, can spend her last few months in her hometown. When disaster befalls one of her new schoolmates, help materializes in the form of Henry (aka Hades). Henry who will bring the girl back from the dead provided Kate promises him one thing. Kate will have to reread the myth of Persephone to find out just what she's agreed to do.
I loved the concept behind The Goddess Test and was eager to read it. Both the title and the book description led me to think that the plot of the novel would be much more focused on the test than it actually was. I also assumed that the readers would know about the individual tests as they were happening even if Kate didn't. The fact that they were kept secret until the end wasn't exactly a disappointment, but it was surprising.
Kate is a sympathetic character, Henry is enigmatic (attractive in that tortured-genius way), but the other characters are mostly one-dimensional. I liked the fact that the novel included a key to the characters at the end. While some of the alter egos were obvious, but the identification of others required a solid grounding in Greek mythology and for one to have paid very close attention to details throughout the course of the novel. Even then you might not make the connections, I know I didn't. Then again Carter's versions of the Olympians are significantly nicer and more subdued than those depicted in Greek mythology (maybe she's saying that they've mellowed over time?),23 which is something that impedes identification and may irritate some readers.
Overall, while I enjoyed The Goddess Test, I was disappointed in Carter's inexplicable Christianization of the Olympians (Rick Riordan does a much better job of modernizing the gods in his Percy Jackson books).
Apparently The Goddess Test is the first in a trilogy. The second title, Goddess Interrupted, is already in the works.
As for the cover art, I quite like the fake Greek font for the title, but I'm not keen on it's placement or all the text on the top (yes, I know they want that Clare quote to draw in Mortal Instruments readers, but if they were going to place it where the did, they might have dropped the "New York Times bestselling [...]" bit for the sake of the overall look of the cover since her readers obviously know who she is). The images work well together, but I would have preferred a bit less of a come-hither look on the model's face.
- Carter's Frequently-asked-questions page.
- Did you catch that reference?
- Actually, better might be the right adjective; better as in more virtuous.
ETA disclosure: I received a review copy of The Goddess Test (which I requested after reading a review of the book on WORD for Teens) from Harlequin Teen via NetGalley.