I requested Goddess Interrupted as I'd seen potential, amidst the frustration, in The Goddess Test. I thought that, given time, hard work and thoughtful application to her prose, Carter might be a good author one day.
Unfortunately, that didn't quite happen here and part of me understands why. A lot of the reviews for The Goddess Test focus on:
GAH! The mythology! WHAT HAVE YOU DONE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
A VIRGIN!? A VIRGIN!? ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!??!?!A VIRGIN. I mean, I'm not getting over that any time soon!
So I appreciate Carter's efforts to address some of that a little in the novel. Well, no not really, but I'm trying really hard to be nice here.
But the underlying themes of fidelity and sexual repression were always highly problematic and they've only devolved in this novel.
We see this through the characters of Ava and Persephone who are judged and censured very heavily by the main character, Kate. Ava stays pretty firmly in the camp of irredeemable slut. As for Persephone: one moment she's the Whore of Babylon and the next she's just a selfish, confused woman. Note: Neither of these are accurate or even good characterization!
Kate says over and over that, no matter what, she would NEVER have cheated on Henry. That's nice, Kate. You're all of, what? 18? Easy to make absolutes when you're 18 and it's your first time in love. So very, very easy.
Persephone was a confused, naive girl when she was married off (didn't chose) to the Lord of the Underworld. She never loved him, she hated her job and she withered up without the sun and freedom. She stayed that way for THOUSANDS of years before finally falling in love with a man and deciding that she'd had enough of a loveless, passionless marriage. Yet everyone, even the other gods who saw her and how miserable she was, judges her as a shameless hussy.
How long does Kate last in her passionless, loveless marriage? *Pulls out fingers and toes to start counting* well, let's see. They married just before her six month vacation where she didn't see or hear from Henry. And when she gets back shit breaks out and so when she finally decides to leave him it would have been... a day. Yes. it takes her a day of actually being with Henry before she hangs up the crown and decides to ditch him.
The double standards, which exist all through this book, are aggravating.
In the the first book Ava is punished by Kate. You see, Ava had been in a relationship with one man. Then she'd ditched him and started seeing another guy. Guy #1 bursts in on guy #2 and they fight. One of them almost dies. Whose at fault? Ava. Obviously. Men can't be expected to control themselves when it comes to sex and it was CLEARLY Ava's fault for... whatever.
So we see Calliope turn evil and she does it because her husband, Zeus, has cheated on her throughout antiquity. It was really satisfying to see everyone angry and annoyed with Walter. To see him take personal responsibility for his actions and how they've affected Calliope and to see him take part in her punishment... no, wait. Sorry, none of that happens. Actually, Calliope is handed over to him so that he can punish her and and try to force her compliance. She disgusts him. Charming.
The fail, unfortunately, doesn't stop there.
We have frustrating characters, too little plot for too many novels, bad pacing, vague action scenes and feminist issues with how the main character is treated.
I could spend all day complaining about how often we had to have Kate reassured that Henry loved her, or how frustratingly annoying Henry is or how unnecessary James is as a character. About how Henry WASN'T a virgin because he'd had sex. Once with Persephone. And it was terrible. You know, I think that's actually worse than if he were a virgin...
But most of all, I'm STILL just really disappointed. Because this is still watered-down mythology and a poor excuse of a Hades/Persephone retelling. It's still a copout in so many ways and it's still thoughtless in its narrative and treatment of characters.
I won't read the next one. I think Carter's progress as a writer is limited in the world she's already built. But I do think I've seen evidence in the text that leads me to believe that she's better than this. I guess I'll have to wait until she leaves this series behind to find out if that's true.