Thursday, May 31, 2012

The Goddess Test & Goddess Interrupted by Aimee Carter [Book Inspection] [Giveaway]

The Goddess Test

Plot Sketch: Kate Winters has not had normal teenage years.  Her mother was diagnosed with cancer and was supposed to die four years ago.  But she's held on.  Now that she's pushed on, she's asked Kate to drive her from their home in New York City to Michigan.  To the UP.  To a small town called Eden.  And she's asked Kate, who deferred her last year of high school to be with her mother, to go back to school.  So Kate does.   And there, she meets James, an outcast, who quickly befriends her.  And Ava, the hottest girl in school, who decides it's best to keep her enemies close and invites her to a party in the woods near Eden Manor where her mother once stayed.  Kate follows Ava to the party reluctantly, tragedy ensues, and Kate makes a bargain to save a life other than her own or her mothers, not understanding the consequences of her agreement.  The rest is the tale of how Kate deals with that deal she's made, the benefits, the costs, and the dangers of agreeing to give a god anything if he'll just save someone's life.

Verdict:  While the first fifty or so pages felt really disjointed, the story was engaging enough for me to push through.  It almost felt as if the editing was so heavy in the first part of the story that what was left was not as coherent as it should have been.  But I'm really glad I pushed through because as the story grabbed me even more, the writing seemed to improve (or be less edited? I'm not sure).  The story took on a flow and I was able to fly through pages in between panels at Phoenix Comicon, which is normally not easy for me to do with people and conversations all around me.  I appreciated that the novel was written in past tense because it allowed me some perspective on the characters that I would have lost had it been written in present tense. And while I didn't find this one to be a work of literary wonder, it was good enough.

That said, I felt a lot of the time the characters actions were manufactured to fit the situations and weren't necessarily true to the characters.  And though derived from a little bit of Greek mythology, it's more like Greek mythology fanfic.  Carter took pieces of the mythology and characters from it and made her own story, even her own names - and did a good job with that aspect of it.  But the characters themselves were a little bit dull and stereotypical - even Kate the main character.  I would have liked to have seen them bloom a little more and act in a way that wasn't predictable.  No one acted in a way that showed more character (not that Kate lacked character, but she was seriously lacking in the flaw department for a teenage girl) than you would have expected from them.  Nobody - not even Kate - showed significant growth.  And no one reacted to tragedy the way people react to tragedy, which gave away a lot in terms of credibility for the characters.

 I'll now admit to throwing this book.  And that I think that Aimee Carter is an emotional genius.  Near the end, there's a chapter title that confirms a character's actions in the previous chapter and you think you've got it all figured out and me?  Well I just got so angry when I read that chapter title confirming my suspicions that I threw the book.  And I swore I wouldn't finish the novel.  But I couldn't stop thinking about the characters so ten minutes later I walked over, picked the book up, apologized to the poor thing and kept reading.  I haven't had my emotions manipulated like that since oh... ever.  I'm glad I finished The Goddess Test.  It was a treat with an atypical ending.

Fans of Once Upon A Time and Radiant Darkness by Emily Whitman are in for a treat. Oh, and dog people.  Dog people will like this book.

Goddess Interrupted

Plot Sketch: You know how adamant I am that I not spoil things for you?  This picks up six months after The Goddess Test ends.  And it's a lot bigger on the adventure path than The Goddess Test was.  It's still about Kate and James and Ava and how they have a problem that they have to solve alone.  It's a continuation of the story and if I tell you much more, I'll spoil The Goddess Test.

Verdict:  As far as a second-in-a-series book goes, Goddess Interrupted was a pleasant surprise.  While I still have some of the same reservations about the character development and writing style, I saw a lot more growth and flaws this time around.  The first volume was largely a romance novel, however this one is action-packed and adventuresome.  It's packed full of conflicts both interpersonal and physical, but it still spends a lot lot lot of time inside Kate's head.  Don't get me wrong, I like Kate.  But we spend what seems as much time in her thoughts as in action in the story and that gets a little exhausting.

Despite my criticisms of the works, I did enjoy both books, and would recommend them if you're interested in the premise.  The ending of GI is cliffhangerish enough to make me want to read the next novel, but not too cliffhangerish where I'm beating my head against the wall in anticipation.  I appreciate that.  Carter's take on the gods and how they interact with mortals and their creators is definitely fresh, and worth a try if you're so enclined. Check out the trailer and giveaway below:

Enter to win a copy of Goddess Interrupted (provided by publicist) by leaving a comment with which Greek god/goddess you'd most like to crush on.  I'll throw in a copy of The Goddess Test if you haven't read it yet.  Make sure your email addy is accessible (either associated with your account or in the body of your comment) and tweet this post for an extra entry.  Ends 6.13.12 at 11:59pm Arizona time.