Release Date: June 4, 2013
Publisher: Dutton Adult
Series: Age of X #1
Review Source: Edelweiss
Synopsis: (from Goodreads)My Thoughts:
In a futuristic world nearly destroyed by religious extremists, Justin March lives in exile after failing in his job as an investigator of religious groups and supernatural claims. But Justin is given a second chance when Mae Koskinen comes to bring him back to the Republic of United North America (RUNA). Raised in an aristocratic caste, Mae is now a member of the military’s most elite and terrifying tier, a soldier with enhanced reflexes and skills.
When Justin and Mae are assigned to work together to solve a string of ritualistic murders, they soon realize that their discoveries have exposed them to terrible danger. As their investigation races forward, unknown enemies and powers greater than they can imagine are gathering in the shadows, ready to reclaim the world in which humans are merely game pieces on their board.
Gameboard of the Gods, the first installment of Richelle Mead’s Age of X series, will have all the elements that have made her YA Vampire Academy and Bloodlines series such megasuccesses: sexy, irresistible characters; romantic and mythological intrigue; and relentless action and suspense.
‘Gameboard of the Gods’ is Richelle Mead’s latest adult release, but I’ve also seen it categorized as New Adult. It’s definitely an adult novel, but it does have appeal factors of New Adult and even YA. Justin is thirty-something, Mae is a bit younger, and then there’s also a focus on 16 year old Tessa. I think if you can handle mature YA with some adult content (read: sex between consenting adults), then it definitely works for all of those age categories.
Personally I was fascinated by all the little details that Mead snuck into this book, and how she world-built. It was super interesting to see genetic mixing and bi-racialism as the ideal, and to be in a world where genetic improvements and implants were commonplace for the elite soldiers. On the one hand you have these huge technological improvements and a highly tech based society, and yet there were also the “backwards” nations with low tech and lots of crime. Interestingly the “backwards” nations were the ones who hadn’t eradicated religion, whereas in RUNA (Republic of United North America) traditional religion is outlawed, and other types of religion are regulated. I was completely enthralled with all of these concepts coming up in the book; they’re all quite controversial subjects, and are related to things being talked about today (e.g. chipping people, messing with DNA, etc).
‘Gameboard of the Gods’ features interesting characters that got my attention right away. Justin is a playboy and an addict; he’s also charming and extremely intelligent. Mae is a super badass fighter who’s also vulnerable; she never wants to feel like someone's possession. Let me say that there is a hugeeee amount of chemistry between Justin and Mae. Justin can’t be with Mae because of a prophecy of sorts (so spoilers, it's talked about pretty upfront), which means the book has lots and lots of delicious UST. Tessa, the previously mentioned teenager, is Justin's ward and is trying to settle in to a school where most everyone sees her as backwards.
I’m sure you can tell from my thoughts that this book is very detailed with technology and how things work in every part of the country. I’m not the kind of person who normally enjoys this, but in this book it kept my attention well. Richelle Mead seems to be good at providing lots of information without making it seem too infodump-y. I also loved the contrast of the story: it takes place in a country that disparages religion, and yet the book is full of mysticism and gods/goddesses. There’s a great murder mystery aspect to the story with Justin trying to debunk real supernatural involvement, but this turns out to be difficult. The way it was all presented seemed like a natural progression for certain characters to start believing in more than just scientific fact.
It may seem like this book is ambitious and too busy with so many themes and concepts (murder, genetics, religion, secret sects, as well as issues of nationality versus culture and class structure), yet somehow it all worked for me. ‘Gameboard of the Gods’ is a sci-fi paranormal/fantasy set in a future that seems plausible. I found this book to be very enjoyable and interesting, and I can't wait to see where things go in book two.
Find Gameboard of the Gods by Richelle Mead on Goodreads, Book Depository, & Amazon.