March 12, 2012

Interim Goddess of Love


by Mina V. Esguerra 

First off, I am not on a Mina fan-fest. It just so happened that I am reading light, easy books these days and Mina's books perfectly fit the bill. Interim Goddess of Love is no different. Now, on to the not-so-standard review. :P

The blurb says this:

College sophomore Hannah Maquiling doesn't know why everyone tells her their love problems. She's never even had a boyfriend, but that doesn't stop people from spilling their guts to her, and asking for advice. So maybe it shouldn't be a surprise when the cutest guy in school tells her that she's going to have to take on this responsibility -- but for all humanity.


The Goddess of Love has gone AWOL. It's a problem, because her job is to keep in check this world's obsession with love (and lack of it). The God of the Sun, for now an impossibly handsome senior at an exclusive college just outside of Metro Manila, thinks Hannah has what it takes to (temporarily) do the job.


While she's learning to do this goddess thing, she practices on the love troubles of shy Kathy, who's got a secret admirer on campus. Hannah's mission, should she choose to accept it, is to make sure that he's not a creepy stalker and they find their happily ever after -- or at least something that'll last until next semester. (As if she could refuse! The Sun God asked so nicely. And he's so, well, hot.)

To be really candid, it took me quite a while – maybe just about half of the book – to get into the groove of this one. There was just something about the YA setting (college, campus, teenagers) that didn't exactly jive with Philippine deities. To me, the infusion of one into the other initially felt awkward and forced.



For example, I couldn't really grasp the idea of a bunch of college students playing being gods and goddesses, possessing powers peculiar to their roles, naturally. As for Hannah, she becomes the interim goddess of love because Original Goddess has gone AWOL and because Hannah was chosen by the sun god, Quin. Okay. I didn't know goddesses can just up and quit (which apparently was what Hannah's predecessor did) and that a replacement can be commissioned in her place, handpicked by another god on the basis of abilities.

Halfway through, however, and to be fair, I tried to think of IGoL as a retelling of sorts – because retellings, especially of mythology and folklore, I do appreciate. When I look at the novella from that perspective, I found that it was easier to digest, and I began to recognize the uniqueness of the story. Why, it's not all that different from alternative Filipino legends and other similar retellings! Hannah and her boylets – Quin, Diego and Robbie, the latter being my favorite for being muy simpatico – just became.

That being said, I guess the best part about IGoL, really, is the infusion of Philippine mythology and legends into the plot. Without this element, I acknowledged that the novella would be just another blah YA contemporary romance. So, on that score, it would be safe to conclude that it's the idea of the Philippine divinities themselves being incarnated as college kids that is the selling point of the book.

Alamat ng araw at buwan, anyone? :)

Rating:  ★★★

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