Simon & Schuster Books for Young Reader, $9.99 trade paper, ISBN-10 1442477180 , May 2014
High school romance is tough—even for a bona fide love goddess. Can Cupid succeed as a mortal matchmaker? When Eros (aka Cupid) is expelled from Olympus for defying Zeus after falling in love with Orion, she is banished to what she believes to be hell. We call it New Jersey. If she ever wants to go back to the comforts of her old life, she will have to find love for three couples—without using her powers. Eros, now calling herself True, immediately identifies her first project in Charlie and believes finding him love will be a piece of cake. Charlie is new at school and eager to break out of his old image of band geek, so it’s lucky for him when he falls in with the right crowd on his first day. But music is still his passion. That is, until he meets Katrina…Katrina is floundering after the death of her father and takes refuge with a boy who, while not entirely supportive, will be there when she needs him, unlike her mother. Too bad True thinks any girl Charlie talks to is perfect for him. Can she get out of her own way and help Charlie and Katrina connect, or will she be stuck in New Jersey forever?
File this one under “not as lame as it sounds.” While a read-through of the concept makes Scott’s (who is also Kate Brian, btw) latest sound like a girly Percy Jackson riff, it’s actually a solid contemporary romance with a little mythology thrown in to make it lighter. Charlie and Katrina, the intended soulmates, each have problematic home lives. Since the death of Katrina’s father, her mother has shut her out emotionally while expecting too much of her in terms of keeping the household running. Katrina, who got most of her moral support from her dad, has dealt with the sudden lack of parental affection by getting into an abusive relationship. Charlie’s problems aren’t as dramatic, but he’s struggling to gain the approval of his father, a football coach who wants all three of his sons to be sports enthusiasts. On its own, this romantic comedy would run extremely short on comedy.
Enter True, whose situation is similarly dire: not only is her return to Olympus on the line, her lover’s life also hangs in the balance. However, her attempts to acclimate to life on Earth and match Charlie with the perfect girl without the use of her psychic love powers bring in the needed levity. The fact that she’s been observing humans for thousands of years and yet doesn’t understand that you can’t just take food and drinks away from other people without asking strains credulity somewhat, but her personal growth happens so organically that she feels realistic as a character. For mythology fans, getting past the Eros gender swap and a few other tweaks to the traditional structure of the gods and their relationships may take moment, but romance fans will eat this with a spoon.
Recommend to: Romance fans, light fantasy fans
To buy or not to buy: A good buy for most YA collections.