Aimée Carter’s GODDESS TEST series has always been a bumpy ride for me, with its sometimes baffling take on Greek mythology and its focus on petty bickering even in the face of potential worldwide catastrophe. Yet I always felt there was enough of a seed of a good story here that I wanted to see how Carter would finish it out, so I decided to read the final book, The Goddess Inheritance. I’ve now gotten a little over halfway through the book and am giving up. I’ve decided I simply don’t care anymore.
We pick up as Kate is on the verge of giving birth in captivity — having been kidnapped by Calliope and Cronus at the end of the last book — and the other gods having just realized she’s actually missing. Then she does give birth, in the most Mary Sue manner one can imagine, i.e. with none of the commonplace annoyances that come with childbirth. Labor only lasts a few minutes. She’s cleaned up instantly by magic, and her body restored to its original state a few minutes later by magic. And then she and the baby are separated and she doesn’t have to do any of the work of caring for him, and the baby doesn’t even come across as having any personality or quirks — his purpose in the story is really just as a plot device and bargaining chip.
I’ll leave out some of the details to avoid too many spoilers, but suffice it to say that Kate is reunited with the other Olympian gods, including her husband Henry. They are at war with Cronus, who is destroying entire major cities in his wrath. Kate knows why Cronus is angry, but takes a long time to tell anyone what’s really going on even though there are so many lives at stake. And those millions of lost lives never really feel real to the reader; these disasters are all offscreen, as are the gods’ battles against Cronus. Gods fighting Titans over the fate of all humanity should be interesting stuff! But Kate just gets told about all of it secondhand.
I could blame the other gods for not keeping her in the loop, but I really feel like this was a mistake of the author to not give the point-of-view character anything interesting to show us. Instead, what we are stuck reading about are endless arguments and conversations about the same topics, around and around and over and over. And the only idea Kate ever has is to try to sacrifice herself, over and over and over, even though that clearly didn’t work so well the first time.
I’m also increasingly weirded out by the fact that Kate isn’t weirded out that she’s married to her uncle. She’ll talk about her father this, her uncle Philip that, without ever seeming to really touch on the big elephant in the room, which is that Henry is her uncle too. This is mythologically accurate, of course, but Kate was raised as an ordinary modern girl for seventeen years. This would not be so easy to take in stride. Either she should be disturbed by this, or else Carter should have written it so that they aren’t really uncle and niece. Certainly she was willing to alter mythology in many other ways, so why not this?
Finally, I realized partway through this book that I had forgotten some of the lesser gods’ pseudonyms and wasn’t sure who was who anymore, and their personalities weren’t distinct enough in this installment to figure it out. And on the heels of that, I decided I didn’t really care.
Overall, I found the GODDESS TEST series to be uneven, and this final installment is plodding and weirdly detached from what would seem to be the most important plot points, namely Cronus’s war against the gods and his murder of millions of humans. Kate has become much less likable than she was at the beginning of the series, and spends most of the book making huge mistakes without thinking them through. I do not recommend The Goddess Inheritance.