I read Aimée Carter’s The Goddess Test last year and was disappointed in it, but saw enough potential in Carter that I was curious about the sequel, Goddess Interrupted. As it turns out, it’s better than The Goddess Test in one major way, but has problems of its own. Overall, they come out about equal and I’m giving them the same star rating.
The biggest problem with The Goddess Test was its bowdlerization of the Greek gods. Carter had rendered the gods nearly unrecognizable by making them believers in a strict Christian morality. Here, she fixes that to a large extent. The gods’ lurid histories are restored to them. It’s just that, as Aphrodite puts it, they have a tendency to be self-righteous. For this mythology geek, they’re much easier to stomach as hypocrites than as sanitized versions of themselves.
The problem, instead, is one of focus. Carter is better at writing, and more focused on, social drama than action or epic conflicts. In The Goddess Test, this intimate style works — it’s an intimate story, part romance, part country house mystery, part examination of grief. While I disliked the portrayal of the gods and the final twist, for the most part the emotional content rang true and was compelling.
In Goddess Interrupted, Carter has an opportunity to make this a more epic story, but this potential goes unrealized. Cronus, the evil Titan, has awakened and is on the verge of being freed. If he escapes, humanity is doomed and all the gods will fade. But the social drama remains the focus of the novel. There’s a lot of angst — Kate angsting about whether Hades will ever love her as much as he did Persephone; Hades angsting about both Persephone and Kate. There’s a huge amount of bickering too; characters bicker over who had affairs with whom in the past, who’s prettier than whom, and so on. I can’t complain too much about this after rejoicing in the gods being more authentic this time, of course. After all, these were the gods who started a war over a certain golden apple. The problem is balance. The Cronus threat feels secondary to these dramas.
The Cronus plot does come to the fore in the action scenes, but there are too few of these, and too much of the action is narrated to Kate and the reader after the fact. During several of the clashes, the other gods leave Kate at home because she’s underpowered. Other times, she is blocked from getting a full picture of what’s going on. For example, once she can’t see well because Cronus (in mist form) is in the way, and in another scene she loses consciousness before the battle’s outcome is decided.
Goddess Interrupted ends on a cliffhanger, yet I find I’m not dying to continue. I would be willing to read future books by Carter, but probably not in this series.