Title: Goddess Inheritance
Author: Aimee Carter
Review: The Goddess Test series is one that I’ve come to really enjoy upon my reading. Despite the fact that some of its themes are less-than-perfect, I really love Aimee Carter’s authorial voice and have found her ability to create complex romantic relationships one to be appreciated. This led to me waiting a good while to finally read the concluding volume of the trilogy, The Goddess Inheritance. Goddess Interrupted ended on a major cliffhanger that had me excited and wary of the direction of the final storyline. It provided a major source of conflict, but it was also something that made me think…huh…this may not be going where I hoped it would. Having finished the series, I can safely say that I still really enjoy Aimee Carter’s writing, but I think the direction of the narrative veered to a place that made me uncomfortable in some spots as a reader.
There’s something about Kate Winters…and it’s not just her position as a goddess, or as the wife of Hades. It’s the pregnancy; it’s her closest friend among the gods that has since become a traitor; it’s the separation from Hades as Cronus holds her captive under threat of harming the people that she loves. Kate’s life is far from charmed when she factors in all of the heartache and, frankly, the utter shit that she has to go through. The life of humanity as a whole has become endangered because of this tiff between the gods an the king of the Titans himself. In some ways, Kate has to accept that her place within the realm of the gods helped the danger along.
Yet Kate is also the only one with a chance at saving humanity. She was the only one that showed Cronus an ounce of kindness, back when she explored the Underworld and first learned of his imprisonment. She treated Cronus like someone with emotions. Screwed up emotions that involved damaging parenting and dictatorship, maybe, but emotions none the less. It left an impression that made her the only thing he cared about taking for himself that wasn’t entirely about revenge. Sure, Cronus wants Kate at his side because it would be a betrayal to all of the gods aligned with Zeus – but it’s also because some part of him just wants her.
This sparks Kate into action. She has no love for Cronus, but she is aware that he holds the life of her child in the balance. He holds the lives of the world in balance. Even if she escapes from his clutches, she still needs to use her slight influence on him to find out necessary information. The final battle between the gods and the recovering Titan is destined to end in loss and destruction. Kate knows it’s dangerous, but the true consequences of saving the world could mean the loss of everything she hopes to live for. The love of her husband, her child, and her family.
I think that my love of this series and the way that the second book grappled with complicated relationships had me hoping that this installment would tie it all together with an epic struggle that really spoke to what the themes were in the series. Aimee Carter was never perfect with each book, yet I enjoyed the hell out of them and found them to be really special in their presentation of a myth that YA has been retelling a lot over the past three or four years. The Goddess Inheritance was a satisfactory way to end Kate’s story and romance, but I think that Carter suffered from some issues in her usage of conflict and character throughout the story.
What I’ve always loved about Kate as a character is her ability to survive and pull through things. Occasionally she feels a little too introspective in her character voice and makes you remember every complicated and sad emotion involved with a situation, but she comes across as a character that feels real and very much what she is: a teenage girl who is thrust into a world of power that she is only beginning to understand as everyone else around her plays a game that’s centuries old. Seriously, Kate has a lot of strength within her despite falling into many traditional guidelines of YA romance. I found the second book to really showcase how Kate was able to explore her power as a character after being regulated to a role in the world that was important but effectively powerless compared to her totally immortal peers. Her voice grew and she learned to stand up for herself in her relationship, as well as explored the world around her while it rumbled of scary events to come. I think The Goddess Inheritance loses some of the character momentum as Kate reverts back to some older thought cycles. She constantly questions herself and her placement in the world – understandable, but hard to handle when people are dying all over the world at the hands of a Titan. She also takes to calling Calliope a bitch – a lot – because of Calliope’s betrayal. Calliope’s need to become a surrogate mother to Kate’s child is mainly behind Kate’s rage.
I think this is where I really lost Kate. While I don’t find Carter’s series to be the most feminist one in YA, there’s certainly an argument to be had for putting a female character in an expected power and seeing how she handles that as she enters a world that is ancient and patriarchal by nature. It’s not intended to be feminist, nor would I say it fits the criteria enough for me to argue for it, but I could see how a reader could find it empowering in that respect if they identify with Kate’s particular situation. The “bitch” thing bugged me for two reasons. 1.) It’s frequency in the text was much higher than I anticipated, and the word in general is extremely negative because of its connotations towards females in general. When a female calls another female a bitch, it feels as though she feeds into the idea that women of power and control are by nature “bitchy”. 2.) The context of the name-calling made sense, but it didn’t feel like it justified the frequency. I could understand how any character, male or female, that tried to take Kate’s child away would be met with hatred and anger. The issue was that Cronus was portrayed as evil but in an accepted context; even though he is just as much of a threat to Kate’s life and family and personhood, Calliope’s threat is the one that incites name-calling throughout the text. I think it also turned me off because I felt like introducing motherhood to Kate as a character felt a little bit too Old Skool romance novel – like how the ending/epilogues would usually contain babies or pregnancy. Not that this is the epilogue of the story, but in the sense that Kate as a character wasn’t free to be able to enjoy her romance without the pressure of traditional womanhood, even if there wasn’t a direct narrative push for her to go that route.
It’s important to note that this all made sense for Kate’s character at the time – I just think that the direction Kate took as a character on the whole bugged me because it felt like she gave up her feelings of empowerment more than I thought she would. Seeing that in her insecurities and her fears towards Calliope just didn’t help my comfort level with her character. That being said, I felt like she got better at the end of the story when she started to realize that she did have power despite not being as measurably strong as the other gods. The end of the story also feels like an attempt at compensating for previous issues by making Kate align herself with several female characters in a way that seemed very positive. I don’t think it quite worked out in the end, but it helped me to feel better about Kate as a character, to the point where I still had a positive opinion of her throughout the series.
Plot-wise, the story felt like it had a lot of interesting things going on. The first half was confusing because of the emotional focus, yet it tied together towards the end as Carter began building up to the climax of the story. A lot of the leading events to said climax had a tendency of repetition because of the nature of the infiltration and Kate’s internal struggles, so it was nice to see that Carter still knew how to end the story with a bang. The Goddess Inheritance ends on an emotional high that is hard to match. Carter knows how to make you feel everything when she wants you to. You know something tragic will happen. Carter just rolls in and proves that it can still be surprising, sad, and traumatic. I think the series really plays well on the drama of the large situations. In some ways, it’s a lot like Josephine Angelini’s Greek myth series Starcrossed because of the dramatic high notes, though it’s much more internal and focused on the dynamics of the protagonist’s self-perception. I think Carter ultimately does a stellar job with the plot as things finish up, but the beginning stutters in a way that will have some readers wondering if the series should have gone the direction that it did. It’s not until the end that the reader realizes that Carter is aware of the consequences of this kind of world-ending conflict, and that realization really shifts how one reads this book and the series as a whole.
The Goddess Inheritance is a solid series finale that summarizes the emotional impact of Aimee Carter’s writing. The Goddess Test series is one that I’ll keep on my shelf and probably return to in a few years when I want something that is readable, emotional, and romantic, but it doesn’t quite live up to the skill in plot and characterization that the first two books of the series put out there. Some of the less-polished parts of the narrative came out as the author began to prepare to wrap up the plot; it showed a little too much before Carter regained footing in the narrative. That being said, readers of the series will be satisfied by the book’s romance and the overall conclusion of the story line as things are completed. Love and loss come together and make it all work, even if some of the story’s parts feel like they strayed from the intended path.
Buy it here:
Kindle Edition: www.amazon.com
Also see: Goddess Interrupted by Aimee Carter