I’m a Mina V. Esguerra fangirl. I’ve read and reviewed all of her books and even did and interview and giveaway last year. She’s my favorite Filipino chick lit writer and I keep recommending her books to my girlfriends because all of her novels are so light and fun. I knew she was planning to release Interim Goddess of Love in 2012 and I was really looking forward to it, not only because I’ll read anything she writes, but because she’s tackling a new genre. All of Mina’s other books are contemporary romance with women in their twenties as main characters. This time, she decided write a contemporary young adult novel, with a hint of Philippine mythology in it.
Here’s the summary from Mina’s website:
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.)
I initially thought the “goddess of love” bit in the title and the premise was figurative. It’s not. Hannah is a descendant of one of those unions between a mortal and a god so she has enough magic in her to be the interim goddess of love. Basically, she has to help out fellow students in Ford River College with their love problems. If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you know that one of my frustrations is not having enough Filipino YA novels to read. Which is why I’m thrilled that Mina has written Interim Goddess of Love and has two sequels scheduled to be released this year. I loved the college setting of the novel because Ford River reminded me of my own college. If you want to get a feel of what college (or university or uni in other parts of the world) is like here in the Philippines, then read this book. I know I keep saying this about Mina’s novels but I could really relate to the characters because they’re all Filipinos. Interim goddess role aside, I could connect with Hannah’s college experiences. It felt like I was back in my own school – attending core curriculum subjects, hanging out with friends in the cafeteria, participating in school organizations and getting to know classmates. Based on just the title, you know that romance is a focus of this novel and I think that’s pretty realistic because most college teenagers tend to worry about their love lives. Here’s a snippet that I really liked:
Some girls can’t stand to be around the guy they like. They get really nervous, and rather than make fools of themselves, they just stay away. I was the opposite; the more I liked a guy, the more I wanted to be around him. I was the type who’d join the same org, or pick the same elective. Sure I was probably looking like a fool five times a day over a bunch of things, but I liked being close to someone I admired.
The act of doing something about the feelings, no matter how futile the exercise, was still way better than sitting around just hoping they’d notice the girl who never said anything.
Hannah has never had her own boyfriend but she’s not willing to be a wallflower either and I liked that about her. The huge cast of characters in this short work of fiction may be confusing for some people but that’s one aspect of Interim Goddess of Love that I really enjoyed. Thank you, Mina, for giving us so many swoon-worthy guys in one book! I couldn’t decide which guy I should root for. This installment is about Kathy’s romance but in the process of finding her true love, we get hints about Hannah’s possible love story as well. I think the number of characters sets up the sequels quite nicely – I’m hoping to read more about the other characters in the next books. Interim Goddess of Love is a promising introduction to Mina’s YA work and it’s just as charming and fun as her other books. After finishing this, I went online so I could bug Mina about the sequels. I can’t wait to read them and I will recommend this one to anyone interested in reading Filipino fiction because I have a feeling they’d enjoy reading Interim Goddess of Love as much as I did.