Title: Goddess Interrupted
Author: Aimee Carter
Review: I loved the first book in this series and was terrified that this one would suck.
You’ve heard it all before, but we all have those books that read so well and then the sequel comes along and sullies the first book with a horrible plot or strange characters or an increase in themes that make you want to pull out your Angry Feminist Gloves (I’m looking at you, House of Night series). Goddess Interrupted was getting so many mixed reviews that I wasn’t sure if it was worth exploring, but I remembered how much I loved Carter’s voice, so I dove in. Readers: trust the author’s voice if you’re unsure, because Goddess Interrupted is a much better book that it’s been credited as.
Kate is the wife of Henry, who is actually the god Hades from Greek mythology. After passing the set of tests designed to determine if she could become a part of the group of gods as his wife, Kate is ready to get to know the man – god – that she married, especially with her growing knowledge of the gods and their place in her life. Kate’s mother, Diana, is actually Demeter, and her best friend, James, is Hermes. Unknowingly growing up with the gods of an ancient civilization has effected Kate’s fate from first breath. Her life has been pushed towards becoming a member of the realm of the gods – passing the test has shaken her beliefs to the core, causing her to wonder exactly where she belongs.
A summer trip in Europe had Kate and James getting close before Kate’s required six months with Hades came around for the first time. The curse of Persephone isn’t quite such a curse when Kate looks forward to getting better acquainted with her husband, but the problems of the gods challenge whatever progress they had made during the initial Goddess Test. Hades and the rest of the gods are noticing a break in the prison that is keeping the King of the Titans alive, and the King of the Titans is pissed. Their lives; the fate of the world rely on whether or not this imprisoned King can get free, the possibility of one of the gods betraying everyone in order to assist him making things even worse.
Danger such as this does not breed a strong relationship. The trust and bond with Henry seems to have feather-fallen away from where it was. Henry seems to avoid Kate at all costs. Is it a fear of intimacy, a repulsion to the idea of sex after their first night together during the Test? As Kate starts learning the story behind Hades and his many loves, she questions him. A woman before her could still have his heart in a way that she never could. Persephone’s memory has never truly left Hades, it seems. Kate may just be a replacement, and when Hades assures her that staying is entirely her decision…Kate has to decide if it’s worth it to stand by her husband and his family as the world comes crashing down on them despite the way Hades is making her feel. She has to decide if what she suspects is true, or if their communication is blinding both of them from the reality of their feelings.
Since it was so long between books, I didn’t go in to Goddess Interrupted with an idea of how much Kate had really changed from the start of the first book to the start of the second. The large character change was primarily her views on romantic relationships and trusting someone like Hades to be able to be worthy of taking a chance on romantically. The Goddess Test was a tumult of things as Kate learned about who she really was and what people expected her to do, befriending a few gods along the way and making enemies of a few others. Goddess Interrupted, in comparison to the first book, makes character development very important, blending the romantic struggles of a post-marriage Henry and Kate with the buildup of tension in the book’s plot.
Kate has this really great character arc in Goddess Interrupted. She’s not the type of girl to take her treatment without talking, and I think that’s where Aimee Carter does this story right. There’s a large arc that deals in part with Kate learning to accept the reality of her situation – she’s married to a god with a complicated emotional history spanning centuries, and his personality does not lend well to directly communicating his thoughts and problems – as well as the fact that Henry does not treat her with the most respect or understanding during the narrative of the book. It’s about balance.
Kate has moments where she overreacts about simple things considering the larger situation of the gods being on the brink of war, but the reader still sympathizes with her because of Henry’s lack of emotional understanding during the story. Carter doesn’t make either character right. She doesn’t turn Kate’s tale into something that says women are stupid or prone to overreaction. Instead, Carter shows the pitfalls of an immediate love. Kate doesn’t really know her husband. She’s just come from a trip with a guy that loves her as well, and James has the added bonus of being someone that has gotten closer to her in a way that Henry never has. There’s nothing wrong about Kate realizing that, while she doesn’t love James, he treats her in a way that is more emotionally understanding and involving than Henry does throughout the book.
This is why I love the conflict of her character arc: Kate continues to love Henry because they get through this time as a couple and learn from each other. It’s not about Henry being infallible. It’s not about Kate being infallible. Neither of them are portrayed as stupid, or silly, or ridiculous, but simply ignorant of what the other is going through at times because of their own individual worries and focuses. Aimee Carter won me over with this book because the result of turning the last page (save for the cliffhanger ending) is one that has the reader thinking about the importance of communication in lasting relationships, especially with people that may not be ready for them when they first start out.
It took something that commonly isn’t explored in YA paranormal romance and tackled it – and it’s a testament to Carter’s abilities that it turned into an engaging story that did what it was intended to do. With a lesser author, the second book in YA PNR trilogies becomes something that is a mess of ideas and attempts at separating a couple over silly things without much context. Goddess Interrupted has context. It gives its heroine a chance to grow emotionally and gain a sense of maturity in her relationship by the end of the narrative. Kate becomes even more awesome because she’s less ignorant. How can you say no to that?
To be fair, this does extend to the other players in the narrative. James has this constant desire for Kate, but he always gets friend-zoned (rightly so, being that she actually loves Henry). That doesn’t really change throughout. The most interesting part of that is that James becomes a more negative character in some ways because of the ways in which he subliminally tries to influence Kate’s decisions regarding Henry. Carter tries to show her readers that it’s not as simple as both of the boys loving her. Henry’s character arc is developed much like Kate’s because of his involvement in the communication issues, and I love how Carter used this to bring in Persephone.
Persephone is honestly one of the best characters – she’s a character that is endearing by the end of the narrative despite the fact that she tends towards the selfish and the mean. Persephone’s perspective on things is very different from Kate’s and provides a great contrast, but she also has feelings for the man that she fell in love with that are truthful at the end of the day despite the way that she gets bored. Carter uses a lot of her side characters to explore the tendency of the gods to indulge in affairs and how that translates to the modern viewpoint of relationships. Thematic exploration like that works because it is something that is an integral part of the Greek mythologies, but it doesn’t necessarily work in purity for a story line like this or characters like Kate and Henry. It doesn’t mean they represent the Greek gods poorly, but that a modern adaptation of their relationships and a modern girl’s place in them would be conflicting.
The crazysauce going on in Kate’s romantic life also has a major plot backdrop. Carter works to actually progress a growing threat with the King of the Titans, and it is a storyline that is in many ways an improvement on the one from the first book. Goddess Interrupted shows the reader several sectors of the Underworld and the past of the gods; it provides a look at the world beyond the gods and their relationships. Tension actually grows readily in the plot because it’s about a threat that is obviously inevitable but unpredictable enough to cause confusion. I never felt bored with the plot because it worked in conjunction with the romance so nicely.
There were times where I would have liked more advancement, or at least more direct involvement with Kate, but this book is clearly setting up the climax of the trilogy in the third and final book, so I could forgive it for wanting to save the biggest part of the plot for later. Carter characterizes her world as something that is really special and fun, something that does the Greek myths proud without catering to every in-and-out to it. Goddess Interrupted is an improvement to everything the first book was – and considering how I enjoyed the first book, I consider that something very, very awesome.
Readers that liked the first book will either love this one or hate it. They will either see the bickering relationship and call foul or come to respect and appreciate what Carter does with her characters to make them three-dimensional beings. I loved every minute of it; I loved that Carter made me think. Her story and world-building advanced as well, and I think the way that this book peaked above the second in story quality helped reaffirm my enjoyment of the series as a whole. Romance with a strong plot behind it can be fabulous in YA, even if not everyone loves it, and Aimee Carter does some of the best YA paranormal romance. This book proves it, and I am so thrilled to find out how she wraps everything up for these characters and their relationships in the final book, The Goddess Inheritance, which is coming out soon. My only hope is that Carter will continue on this path of increasing her awesome with each book – a reader couldn’t ask for more.
I love this cover in the series. Not as good as the third book, but the design carried throughout the books is beautiful, and the coy smile on the model’s face gives a great nod to Kate’s spunk.
Buy it here:
Kindle Edition: www.amazon.com
Also see: The Goddess Test by Aimee Carter