Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Goddess Test by Aimee Carter AND Starcrossed by Josephine Angelini

Double Feature is an occasional feature where I discuss/review two books, often comparing and contrasting characters or elements that were similar or different.  I try my best to not include spoilers, or to give a spoiler warning before them, but because these reviews are more in-depth than regular reviews, it is possible there might be some plot points given away.  Read at your own risk.

The Goddess Test by Aimee Carter
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Publication date: April 2011
ISBN: 9780373210268
Source: Library

Starcrossed by Josephine Angelini
Publisher: HarperTeen
Publication date: May 2011
ISBN: 9780062011992
Source: Review copy provided by publisher (and NetGalley)

The Goddess Test (Harlequin Teen) Starcrossed

Summary of The Goddess Test (GT)
For all her life, Kate has been with just her mom, and now her mom is dying of cancer.  Her last request is to die in the small town she grew up in.  Her new life is only complicated more when she meets Henry, who claims to be Hades.  But, when he brings a girl back from the dead, she begins to wonder if he's telling the truth.  And if he is, could he save her mother too?  Kate will find out when she faces trials and tests that every other girl who's tried before has failed.  Will she succeed and save her mother's life?

Summary of Starcrossed (SC)
Helen has spent all her life trying to hide from notice.  That becomes increasingly difficult as she gets taller and more gorgeous.  Oh, and when she realizes she has unusual powers as well.  All that changes when the Delos family moves to Nantucket and she feels overwhelming feelings toward them, especially Lucas.  Feelings she might not be able to control.  As she learns more about them and the mysterious dreams she's been having, she gets caught in a centuries old battle that could take her life and the lives of everyone she cares about.

The Mythology:
GT: This one was actually pretty light on mythology, despite having more of a presence from gods.  It didn't seem to include too many details and too much history at once.  Yes, Kate had to spend lots of time learning the myths, but fortunately we didn't.  I both liked and disliked that, because I wasn't overwhelmed with info, but still would have enjoyed a little more.

SC: A lot more mythology made it into this book.  It was very clear that Angelini has a thorough knowledge of Greek mythology.  I really liked the way she described the Houses and the Furies and all the history that goes along with it.  At times, however, it was a little too much and got a bit dull.  Still, the mythology had more involvement in the story and the characters than GT did.  I liked how it took a different path than most mythology books now - less about the gods involvement and more about the heroes.

The Romance:
GT: It was really sweet, actually.  I was glad that it avoided the deadly trap of insta-love and instead developed over the time Henry and Kate spent together.  It felt a little like Beauty and the Beast in that things went much more slowly.  While I often didn't like Henry for some of the things he did, I thought he was a pretty nice guy and not the typical "bad boy" that you'd expect from a Hades character.  Surprisingly refreshing.

SC: I was not terribly impressed with the romance in this one.  While I saw some of the appeal of Lucas, I was annoyed with him for the most part.  He really did jerk Helen around a lot and he had a little too much of a stalker-y feel sometimes for my preferences.  I liked the way Helen and Lucas interacted and the fun they did have, when they weren't fighting or trying to kill one another though.  
Things I Liked about GT:
I thought the story was really interesting.  I liked the different take on the Persephone myth, which wasn't precisely a repeat of history, but more of a continuation.  It was unique in that respect.  Also, while I was confused and wish I knew more for a lot of the book, I did find the ending to be surprising and yet satisfying.  It was a solid book that offered more than I expected and had a sweet romance to top it off.

Things I Liked about SC:
I quite enjoyed the way this one developed.  It was very complicated and interesting and took several turns I didn't expect.  I liked the minor supporting characters, particularly Claire and some of the Delos family.  They felt like people I would want to be friends with.  It was fun to have Helen learn about her powers and how she tried to get control of them.  Plenty of double crossing and mysterious motives made the ending very good too.  An all around solid debut. 
Things I Didn't Like about GT:
I was a bit annoyed sometimes when they talked about people who were already dead being killed again.  I thought that was a little too unbelievable and made it hard to accept some of the story.  Yes, eventually it made sense, but I still thought it was weird and it drew me out of the story.  The writing is also not the best I've read, but has a lot of potential.  I'm impressed enough to read the next book and was really glad this one didn't end on a cliffhanger that made me need it NOW.

Things I Didn't Like about SC:
I think perhaps it felt a little too much like a first book, with some overdone phrases and too many pages of description.  I think it might have been a bit more solid if some of the info had been cut.  The story felt very similar to Twilight too - girl meets mysterious boy who wants to kill her, has a big "special" family that wants to stalk/protect her, etc, etc.  Some of this was good (I liked the Delos family) and some of it annoyed me (the waffling, sometimes creepy love interest).  But, I'm interested enough to want to read the next book to see what happens. 

Percy Jackson and Heroes of Olympus series by Rick Riordan

Also a little like Goddess of Yesterday by Carolyn Cooney

s-factor: !@
here and there

mrg-factor: X
some implied stuff left to the imagination mostly

v-factor: ->
a couple of incidents, not too graphic

Overall rating: **** 


s-factor: !@
regularly throughout, but nothing too strong

mrg-factor: X
some talk, but nothing on page

v-factor: ->->
quite a bit of action fighting

Overall rating: ****

I'm really have a hard time picking one I liked more than the other. Anyone else read both?

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