Oh my god that summary. That summary is so fucking far from accurate I can't even. WARNING: this is going to be long and angry and full of unmarked spoilers.
Oh my god, I thought I was done being angry about this book. Seriously, like once I hit that last stretch and the ending clusterfuck began and it became abundantly clear that not one significant thing was going to change, I just pfft, stopped caring. Like,
I realized that all this time, I'd been waiting for this book to be more. I'd thought Carter had pulled us in for the long con. I was waiting for the other shoe to drop, for Carter to jump out of the bushes and yell, "GOTCHA! Hahaha, really had you going there, didn't I? You really thought that I was going to follow through with a fucked-up relationship and "bitches, man" for an entire trilogy! OH YE OF LITTLE FAITHE!" And I was angry because it was taking so GODDAMNED LONG and Kate was being such a GODDAMNED MORON and WHY WOULDN'T THE OTHER SHOE JUST DROP ALREADY?
And then I realized that there was no long con. There was no other shoe. No Carter in the bushes, waiting to Melissa-Marr us, no redeeming moral to the story. It just is. The Goddess trilogy really is a series about a woman who finds true love through abduction, imprisonment, emotional blackmail, and a path to marriage so contrived that "arranged" doesn't even begin to do it service. It is a book about a girl who's not even allowed to get out of her teen years before she's manipulated into being wedded and pregnant. It is a book in which men motivate every woman's action, in which their very special love for particular penises makes the world go round, and the inter-gender hate flow. It is a book in which the primary antagonist is written as a hateful, unlovable, irredeemable bitch. It is a book in which we are supposed to accept all of these things uncritically.
And I was just out of fucks, man, because how do you even argue with that? I've spent two reviews
trying to argue with that, and what more can I say about how vile and awful and fucking infuriating and depressing this whole concept is?
I thought I didn't care anymore, I thought I was just out of fucks, and then I went on Goodreads to collect my summary for this review, and all I see are four and five star reviews for this book, and I just...
This book is FUCKED UP, you guys. FUCKED UP. I mean, from page one, page fucking one, the story is just irreparably fucked. Kate is fucking PREGNANT. PREGNANT. I know that we knew that already, but it's different, seeing the way it's played out. You open the book, and this emotionally stunted, fucked-up eighteen-year-old girl is giving birth, and it's just like, jesus fucking christ. This is a kid. This is a kid, giving birth, in a book intended for other kids, to a child she WAS FORCED TO BEAR. And you KNOW that this is not going to be about just how awful and emotionally scarring that REALLY is, or whether or not Kate is prepared for its repercussions, or even if she wanted this child in the first place. No, this is pregnancy as a plot device, the most inconsequential, fairytale motherfucking depiction of teen motherhood you will ever see, with a perfect baby, and a body magicked back to normal two minutes after giving birth, and nary a negative thought seen or heard about this motherhood thing, EVER.
But why would there be? Because what this really is is Kate, giving birth to her happy ending. This is Kate giving birth to her reward, that thing that no woman's teenage girl's life would be complete without, right? The story will end and Kate will be eighteen and married for eternity, with a child she was forced to conceive and carry, and what more could a woman ask for? Isn't he just the most precious and important and perfect thing on the planet? Man, guess that forced pregnancy thing really worked out for the best, huh? A+, FIVE FUCKING STARS, YEAH?
And this is the second fucking chapter.
I just, I don't understand how we've gotten to the point where this is acceptable. Where something this horrifying and awful and traumatic can be portrayed in a positive light, and we are fucking okay with that. But that's what this entire series is: fucking horrendous, awful things happening to this girl and being portrayed in a positive light.
But oh god, if there's anyone who tank any sympathy that I would have garnered for her after the awful things she's been through, it's Kate. Kate is...really kind of a bafflingly awful character. She is still, after three freaking books here, insecure on a level that I think is borderline insane, and I'm not even being facetious when I say that. Three books, and this girl is still, STILL, teetering on the edge of an emotional breakdown, should the people she bases her life around leave her. She's still an utter fucking misogynist, and STILL has such a martyr complex that for a good 50% of the book, all she does is offer to sacrifice herself for other people. This girl is a train wreck of misplaced anger and spunky agency and romantic paranoia that makes her unlikable and almost unreadable, and the book does not one damn thing about it. And it's not like it doesn't know, the book is aware of at least some of this, because characters lampshade things like Kate's willingness to sacrifice herself for other people. And yet it doesn't change.
That is what I was waiting for - emotional development on Kate's part. Isn't that the whole point? Why else give her such massive, infuriating character flaws? But if a shift in perspective came, I missed it. I suspect that if Kate was to have developed at all, the catalyst was perhaps supposed to have been the ending, but if that's the case, I hardly even know what to say. "Too little, too fucking late" comes to mind. I spent 90% of the book in the mind of Asshole Kate, what do I care if she somehow miraculously evolves too late to really change a goddamn thing, and right in time to ride off into the sunset?
Really, though, Goddess Inheritance is just shit with its female characters in general, which I suppose isn't surprising; the series' subtitle should have been Internalized Misogyny in Action. Aside from so-fucked-there's-not-even-a-proper-word-for-it Kate, Ava/Aprodite and Calliope/Hera are the major female players, and as usual, their roles are an infuriating mess.
If we're to go by the narrative, I would say that Avadite has probably the most thankless role. When we last saw her, Ava's husband had been captured, and she was being blackmailed into betraying Kate to Calliope to presumably keep him from death or harm. Nine months later, and apparently Ava has been hanging around and tending to Kate while she is Calliope's hostage, but somehow also reporting back to Walter (Zeus) and the Council (Olympians) as a spy?
I don't really understand this, on a number of different levels. For one, you would think that if you had sided with the enemy to the point that you're pretty much a permanent resident in their HQ, you wouldn't just be able to pop back over to the "good guys'" base to chat and catch up without somebody noticing or trying to stop you. And yet, this is how Inheritance starts: Ava, at Olympus, chatting with her "daddy", Zeus. In person. Updating him about what's going on with Kate, and curling up in his lap for comfort and support.
Yeah, literally. This grown-ass, immortal, ancient goddess is curled up in her father's fucking lap LIKE A CHILD, that's not demeaning or infantalizing in the least, right? BUT I DIGRESS.
Afterwards, Ava is somehow able to pop back over to Cronus' headquarters and resume tending to Kate, without anyone being the wiser, apparently. And I'm assuming she does this a lot, because she's been keeping Zeus appraised of Kate's condition for NINE MONTHS. Yet nobody noticed, nor did the other side take advantage of this apparent lapse in security. Excellent.
For two, was Ava's being a spy supposed to be some sort of secret? To us or Kate? You wouldn't think so, given how the book opens on Ava reporting to Zeus, and yet the public reveal that Ava has been acting on behalf of Zeus the entire time is treated as some sort of twist. That could perhaps be because it was surprising to Kate, but that doesn't really make sense, either. By the time we get to the point where Ava is publicly revealed as a spy, Kate has seen Ava relay information over the Council at least once, has heard that it's a regular thing, and has been on the receiving end of Ava's help multiple times. Buuuut somehow she still hadn't put it together?
Here's why that's so confusing, though: through the whole book, Kate treats Ava like absolute shit for helping Calliope. And okay, it's not like Ava is blameless, here, and I'll be the first to say that I hate that she was man-tivated into that position, but as far as Kate is concerned, Ava's doing all these things because her husband is being held captive. His life is at stake, and while I don't think it lets her off the hook entirely, I do think it's deserving of a little empathy, right? Fuck, Kate even agrees that if their roles were reversed, she would have betrayed the shit out of Ava for Henry.
But apparently none of this matters, because Kate just mercilessly flings hatred in Ava's direction for the entire goddamned book.
Seriously, the level of nastiness levied towards Ava by Kate is just astounding, so much so that even other characters notice, and speculate on whether or not her resentment is being magically bolstered by Calliope. Kate comes to the conclusion that it's not, though; she just really hates Ava for a great laundry list of things resulting from her betrayal, and no amount of Ava apologizing or taking care of her child or helping her escape will ease that resentment. No, Ava literally has to sacrifice herself for Kate before she is able to consider forgiving her.
Well, that's not exactly true - and this is where that did-she-or-didn't-she know about Ava being a spy comes into play. It's actually when Zeus reveals that Ava was working on his behalf the entire time that Kate first begins to start to forgive her.
I genuinely do not understand this.
How does that make Ava's actions any better? How is allowing Kate to suffer for strategic value somehow better than acting under duress because someone else's life is at stake? Not to say there isn't an argument to be made for the former, but from Kate's perspective? SERIOUSLY? How is THAT somehow more acceptable? "Oh, well, gosh, I guess if she was doing it pragmatically for her dad instead of emotionally for herself, well, that just makes it all okay."
No fucking sense.
But that's Ava's arc! Blackmailed for her husband, used by her father, ultimately killed in the climax to atone for her "sins" and possibly teach Kate a lesson about her misogyny, depending on how much credit we're actually giving the book. Kate does take it very personally, because HOW DARE YOU KILL SWEET WONDERFUL AMAZING APHRODITE?
Careful, Kate, change positions any faster and we're all going to have to be treated for whiplash.
Then there's Hera. Oh my fucking God, Hera. Or, sorry, Calliope, and yeah, the god-name thing is still stupid and confusing. Anyway, Hera. Fucking Maleficent had more nuance. The Evil Queen from Snow White looks at Hera and goes "Goddamn lady, you need to chill. And perhaps consider taking up a hobby." If there's a character that's more of a traffic jam of awful sexist stereotypes and tropes, I haven't seen them...
Lots fucking more at You're Killing.Us