Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Nobody's Goddess by Amy McNulty

In a village of masked men, each man is compelled to love only one woman and to follow the commands of his “goddess” without question. A woman may reject the only man who will love her if she pleases, but she will be alone forever. A man must stay masked until his goddess returns his love—and if she can’t or won’t, he remains masked forever.

Seventeen-year-old Noll’s childhood friends have paired off and her closest companion, Jurij, found his goddess in Noll’s own sister. Desperate to find a way to break this ancient spell, Noll instead discovers why no man has ever chosen her. She is in fact the goddess of the mysterious lord of the village, a man who refuses to let Noll have her right as a woman to spurn him.

Thus begins a dangerous game between the choice of woman versus the magic of man. The stakes are no less than freedom and happiness, life and death—and neither Noll nor the veiled lord is willing to lose.

Rating: 2,5/5 stars

“What I wanted to do now was selfish, and I had been selfish enough to doom all of our kind. But still, my mouth opened.


This quote alone describes the plot perfectly.

Books like these are hard to rate. What do you do when the story is great, you have fascinating world-building, an interesting premise, even a cool and dark love interest (ala darkling) but the main character is so annoying, so dumb and selfish and learns nothing through the novel that all you want to do is slap some sense out of her? Repeatedly. With a hammer.


This is what happens with Nobody’s Goddess, the story could have been fantastic, a four star read for me, if it hadn’t been for Noll.

The narration can be confusing and slow for the first four or five chapters. That’s because right as we start we’re hit with tons of world-building, but little explanation. 

Boys with masks? Goddesses? Death? Old crone? Castle and earthquakes? 

But after that, the world-building slowly comes to us.

A thousand years ago, women were slaves of men (imagine women in history and you get a clear picture) so the first Goddess appeared and she saved them by turning all women into Goddesses themselves. All men would love women (one man for each goddess) and follow her every command. They would be masked until their goddesses turned seventeen and went through her returning, the ritual by which a woman takes off his man’s mask. If she returns his love, he is free of ever wearing the mask again. But if any woman looks upon a man’s face without his goddess’ love being returned, then he would die.

It can be a bit confusing at first, but once the story truly begins it starts making sense.

Noll is sixteen years old, and no man has found the Goddess in her, and she’s beginning to think that no one will. To make matters worse, she’s in love with her childhood friend Jurij… who found the goddess in Noll’s sister’s.

Noll’s desperate, she doesn’t want her sister to have the man that she loves. But if Elfriede doesn’t love Jurij and unmasks him in her returning, she’d kill him. So Noll goes to the Lord’s castle (the mysterious ruler of the place who buys keeps the village going) to try and convince him to leave Jurij free so she can be with him, and that’s when things began going south.

I found Noll to be an annoying character, mostly because she was such a hypocrite. These kinds of people really bug me, and Noll took it to extreme lengths. No matter what she did or who she hurt, she was never wrong, she never made a mistake. In her mind, all things that went wrong were someone else’s’ fault. 


Her obsession with Jurij wasn’t love. She was friends with him when they were 12/13 but she had never seen him in a romantic way until he was in love with her sister Elfriede. Noll acted like a petulant child, wanting what she couldn’t have.

“’How do you know you’re in love with Jurij, without ever seeing his face?’ It was a silly question. I knew I loved him just the same. But it was different with me.”

Why? Why was it different for her? They had been friends but that was it, and despite her claiming to love Jurij she didn’t really know much about him. At least, not much that she shared with the reader. All she thought was how Jurij just HAD to be with her, but no why she loved him, or what she even liked about him. We know very little about this poor guy, and yet it’s all she can think about?

“The idea of a man weak at the knees and lost without me made me almost as ill as seeing Jurij acting that way with Elfriede. Even if it might have been different if Jurij acted that way with me.”

The concept of men with no choice was one of the most interesting aspects of the story. It doesn’t strike you at first because the narration is from Noll’s point of view, and so she’s used to the privilege but the thing is, men here have no choice.
A woman can refuse her man if she wants to and send him to the commune, or chose to live with him (to have children) but still not love him. Men have no choice, they can’t stop loving their goddesses, even if they don’t love them or even want them near. It’s a sickness and a curse, they are forced to be eternally devoted to them, but they don’t have any say in the matter. When their goddesses give their command, they have no choice but to obey even if that means killing themselves.

It was frankly awful, but super interesting to explore in literature. Now here we have Noll, who thought that the idea of seeing her best friend stripped of his free will was awful!... Unless he was following Noll’s command, then it would have been ok.


Noll justifies her way of thinking by remembering the first few weeks when Jurij had found the Goddess in Elfriede. Her sister was disappointed, she barely knew the kid (and he was two years younger than her) so she didn’t want him to be the only man who would ever love her (only one man for each woman). During that time, Noll’s sister would ignore Jurij or wish he would just go away, and Noll was pissed that she was rejecting her man!

But what happens when a man finds the Goddess in Noll?


She can’t stand him! She doesn’t want him near even though she hardly knows him. So, her sister was an asshole (and totally didn’t deserve Jurij) because she had been reluctant to accept her man, but when Noll doesn’t want her man she’s totally in her to treat him like crap because, where is her choice???

I found a few aspects predictable, and others still confusing. But in the end, the idea of a matriarchal society with POC characters had a lot of potential, if it hadn’t been for Noll.

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