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 Xseries, 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.
**I received a copy of the book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review**
Finished Gameboard of the Gods a couple of hours ago and I still haven’t got rid of the post-awesome-read bliss. I never really envisioned Richelle Mead writing dystopia.
An extremely exciting futuristic setting coupled with Mead’s addictive writing style and her ability to weave magic with words totally makes an explosive combination. Really, dystopia doesn’t get any better than this!
Loved, loved, loved the post apocalyptical world of RUNA or the Republic of United North America- one of the countries which had risen from the destruction caused by the Decline, which refers to the catastrophic event in which the deadly Mephistopheles virus had wiped out a major portion of the world population and caused reproductive damage to its survivors. The entire setting of the story isn’t revealed until around page 80. Though some people might find that irritating, I think it added an element of mystique to the book that kept me coming up with wild assumptions and concocting baseless explanations for whatever happened in the first 80 pages. Everything was revealed in a systematic manner though, a secret at a time, allowing the story to flow smoothly. The technological enterprises, the layout of the fictitious countries, the caste system, the religious extremism and the characterisation were pure ingenuity.
The RUNA held three things responsible for the Decline: biological manipulation, religion, and cultural separatism. All of the early genetic mixing had gone a long way to stamp out group solidarity, and the loose Greco-Roman models the country had adopted provided a new, all-encompassing culture that everyone could be a part of.
Apart from dystopia there is plenty of supernatural stuff to sate the paranormal fantasy enthusiasts since this is Richelle Mead we are talking about. The entire concept provided a much-needed refreshing break from vampires, werewolves and other mythical creatures, so over-used in fiction these days that they have lost their appeal. Instead Gameboard of the Gods deals with…well you guessed it- Gods! Divine intervention, religious zealots, power-hungry cults, the crazy fanatics who believe in human sacrifice and what not….It was a revivifying change from the usual stuff these days- the teenage drama that sells under the guise of dystopia.
There were no melodramatic love triangles for one, not that the romantic part was lacking in any way. There’s still truckloads of angst and unresolved sexual tension to keep things from getting too drab. The story is told from the POV of three people. There is Mead’s trademark badass female protagonist who can kick butt left-right and centre- Mae Koskinen is a Praetorian (read deadly soldier) assigned to guard disgraced Servitor Dr. Justin March. Mae is dangerous and beautiful and actually makes Rose Hathaway look tame…enough said.
I was in two minds about Justin’s character. There are two sides to him- the one where he acts like an alcoholic/drug addict/sex crazed bastard, and the other where he is the brilliant Servitor, dedicated to serving his country. He is manipulative, as is expected because of his job, and self confident to the point of being arrogant. His banter with Mae was engaging and his wisecracks and side comments made me snort with laughter. Tessa- Justin’s friend’s daughter- or his ‘prodigy’ as he likes calling her is the teenage Provincial or the non-Gemman citizen of Panama City. She is astute and clever and over all a distinctly likeable character.
The plot was spun quite intricately, making it impossible to guess what was going to happen next. The ending was a surprise and a cliffhanger to boot. Overall an excellent read and an intriguing start to what seems to be a promising series. Breathlessly awaiting the next instalment!
Rating- 4/5 stars!