There will be a LOT of spoilers in this review, so you really shouldn’t read this if you haven’t read the book but are planning to.
The story: Kate moves with her mother, who is suffering from cancer, back from New York to the town her mother lived in before Kate was born. She is soon victim to some prank which leads to the girl who set her up dying. A beautiful stranger shows up, making a deal with Kate, he will make sure the girl survives if Kate agrees to be his bride. What she first takes for a joke turns out to be quite serious, Henry is a Greek god, looking for a bride and he sees potential in Kate, so in case she passes a series of tests she will be his wife and a goddess herself.
I can’t say I liked the characters much. Kate turns out to be slow and stupid, sometimes strangely forgiving and sometimes strangely resentful and judgmental. Henry is mostly silent and dark with only brief moments, when he opens up. This could work out nicely as a male protagonist and love interest, but somehow it doesn’t, at least not for me. I didn’t quite understand why Kate is so into him apart from his stunning looks and well – probably the fact that he is a god.
Greek mythology in a paranormal Young Adult story sounded intriguing, a welcome fresh idea after all the vampires, angels and werewolves. But to make it short, I didn’t like it. At all. I think YA books tend to pick seemingly dark male icons and turn them into cute and fluffy toy versions of the actual thing/idea. (We remember the “vegetarian” vampires Stephanie Meyers cooked up.) In this novel there are actual Greek gods. We know them to be brutal and wild, decadent and promiscuous – but here? When testing the new aspiring goddess-to-be, what do they look for? A girl who is free of the seven “deadly sins”. Not even Greek, but a Christian concept. While the mythology of Greek Gods is ALL about them not being bound to social conventions as they are gods and can partake in adultery, murder, incest, rape etc, they actually were the embodiment of wrath, greed, pride, envy and lust. Mixing Greek mythology and Christianity up is one thing, but mixing it up in a way it just makes no sense is just silly.
And again the young readers get to hear a tale of “Why sex is badbadbad (unless you are married).” The heroine actually argues at one point, that it isn’t “lust” if you love the guy. Oh, and by the way, if said guy tells you to quit eating, it is a good idea to follow the suggestion, according to the book. The big surprises are so lame and foreseeable that at some points I reread the last few sentences, because I was sure I had to have missed something if the heroine is that stunned, but no, she just realized, what had been obvious to even the least attentive reader for ages.
I think the point of critique that sums it all up is that the reader is treated as being stupid. No, he surely won’t mind a weird mix of Ancient Greek and Christian beliefs, he won’t even realize. No the heroine can be tricked and talked into anything, doesn’t have to be plausible. As long as it gets the story moving. Yes, we have to spread out a lot of (not so tiny) hints, so even the not so bright ones have a chance to know what will happen next.
I got the second part of the series as an advanced readers copy by NetGalley, which is why I bought the first part to get into the story, I actually thought it was the first part when I requested it. I think the book deserves one star, but since I have high hopes for the second part and actually like the goddess idea I will grant two stars.