Mina V. Esguerra is back, now with her new book, abbr. IGoL, and she is back with a bang. Contrary to her past novels, IGoL is not just a contemporary romance. It is also a YA book (her first! And I’m pretty sure that it’s not gonna be the last as it’s only the first book in the series!)
Here’s the synopsis:
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.)
This book is probably one of my 2012 favorite reads so far. I mean, there’s so much about it that I know I should love, beginning with the little touches of Philippine mythology throughout the series (hello, Ms. Maquiling!), to a set of diverse characters that will not only make you fall for them, but make you want to be like one of them (I mean, seriously. Who doesn’t want to be a God/Goddess in their own right, even if it’s just temporary?)
I’ve read so many books before this, but you will notice that I don’t blog regularly. But as this is the Mina V. Esguerra, of course I have to review this one.
Let’s start with Hannah Maquiling, the series’ heroine. Being a half-blood (or a demigoddess), she was assigned by the Sun of God, Joaquin “Quin” Apolinario, to be the Interim Goddess of Love as the real one has gone missing, and someone has to take over in that position. Even though she’s never been in a relationship herself in the past, she gladly accepts the offer because it’s Quin we’re talking about and she has a huge crush on him. But what kept my interest even longer was reading Kathy’s storyline. If this is a film, Kathy’s role is probably just a small one; a supporting role — which is being used to drive the plot of the story. I’ve always liked character-driven stories, but this one I just couldn’t get myself to care care because I think it works both ways. It elevates the events of the story, and it also gives growth to Hanna’s character as the Goddess of Love. And it’s not just the three of them. This one, unlike Mina’s previous works, consists of many characters — diverse set, actually, that made me love it even more. Moreover, to the girls out there, there are so many guys you can squeal about in this novel. You get to choose. It’s like Team Edward or Team Jacob all over again.
Anyway, before I’d finish this, I’d like to say something else.
In my past book reviews to Mina’s works, I kept saying that I love her writing style because she keeps it really light. I would just like to correct myself. Mina’s writing style is not exactly light. The truth is that there’s magic in her way of writing that even those messages that should give the reader a feeling of heaviness, even by just a little bit, she can make it so light for the readers.
One example of those is this:
I didn’t see her much when I was growing up, so it was easy to forget that she and my mom came from the same place. Of course, they’d have similar habits, share the same vocabulary.
“Why do I remind you of her?” I asked, almost expecting her answer to be similar.
“When we were younger, I was always getting into trouble, and your mom would always try to help me,” Tita Carmen said. “But I wasn’t always happy about it. And she’s ask me why I was so annoyed, when she was only trying to help.”
Yeah, that was my mother. She was always doing right by someone, offering good deeds even if they didn’t want them. There was this one time —
“Wait.You think I turned into my mom?”
Because wait one second! My mom was the ultimate “will martyr myself for friends and family and bitch about it to my daughter when I’m punished for my good deeds.” I love her but it’s true, and I sat through one too many of these conversations. It was exhausting sometimes, getting that peek into my mother’s life.
So true! Sometimes, it’s hard for us to accept the fact that we are turning into our parents, because there are things about them we don’t want to be like. That’s the kind of thing about Mina. She can keep you giggling, blushing probably, and smiling or laughing even when you’re alone. But one thing that I really noticed: she can keep you nodding with the use of her words; agreeing to what she was telling you, and letting you see yourself in a way you probably haven’t even noticed — through her characters. Because that’s the kind of writer she is. She narrates the story lightly, but she’s actually, and definitely, heavyweight. ;)
Fearless Forecast: I have this feeling that we will get to meet the real Goddess of Love, and she will be an adversary for Hannah. Also, I think QotC is the next book in this series, and I’m guessing it means “Queen of the Campus.”
Well, those are just my guesses. Don’t take my word for it. I’m really like this when I got hooked to something: I don’t stop thinking about the possibilities of the story and its future.
I can’t wait to read the rest of the series, and I’m recommending this one to those of you who wants to see a glimpse of the Philippine mythology. I really believe, wherever you are, whatever kind of mythology you were used to believing at as you were growing up — Interim Goddess of Love has got no way of failing you!