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.
Synopsis from Goodreads
It’s really complex, and kinda sexy.
This book surprised me a little. Not because the writing wasn’t great (we all know that Richelle Mead can write, right?) but because I’ll admit that I was expecting something a little more like VA. A little more teen, a little less adult. But this is for a more mature audience. There is a fair amount of swear words, plus more than one sex scene (I wouldn’t have complained if there were more of these…), not to mention the drug and alcohol abuse. It is all handled well, though I would not recommend this for the younger crowd. I especially loved to see that Mead can write something different, because I’ve never had the chance to read any of her other series. Now that I see she can be somewhat versatile, I may just give her other books a shot.
I can already tell you that this is going to be an extremely complex series. There are so many threads to the plot, all wrapping around each other. At the beginning, I was handed clue after clue; definitely more clues than leads, and most of those leads were false! My head was starting to spin a little from all the foreshadowing. THROW ME A FRICKIN’ BONE HERE! I needed something, ANYTHING, solid to keep my feet on the ground. It was hard to keep from getting confused until… they all started coming together. This was the part where I was really drawn into the story.
The characters are all so brutally broken. One way or another, they are all dealing with their inner demons (or gods). Mae is a strong woman – and I don’t mean strong is the classic “well-built-character” sense. I mean, she is stronger and faster than your standard human. She is a praetorian, which mean she has been modified by the government, and serves in its military. Except she loses her temper at a funeral, and now she’s being punished; she’s on babysitting detail. Dr. March has been exiled from his home country, and has since been drinking and drugging himself up in the hopes of dealing with his problems. But will Mae become one of those problems, or will she be part of the solution?
One of my favourite aspects of this book is that it offers a different view of religion. In this future world, religions have been mostly disbanded, and are closely monitored. Churches and temples must apply for licenses, and have very strict rules to follow. And while the government has decided that gods are simply fictitious figures, the gods themselves may have something to say about that.
The story takes place in RUNA; The Republic of United North America. The capital is Vancouver, which is kinda awesome coming from a Canadian’s perspective. There can never be enough books with Canada as their setting! Although the world is built so incredibly well, I halfway expected there to be some sort of reference to the present day Vancouver that I may have recognized. Or to Windsor, which is also mentioned. I have spent a significant amount of time in both these places, and to me the setting in the book came across as simply generic. The name could have easily been changed to any other, Chicago, New York, Timbuktu or the Wubbulous World of Wingding, and it wouldn’t have made any difference (although that last one may have lost Mead a little credibility…). Despite the where, the who, what, when, why and how were great.
I can’t stand a loose thread, and, by the end, this book had plenty. I am desperate to see how they all tie in!
A copy of this book was provided by Netgalley.