Series: Age of X #1
Published by Penguin Group on June 2013
Genres: Dystopia, New Adult, Science Fiction
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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.
We’re pieces on a gameboard, Dr. March, and some of us are more powerful than others. You. Me. Her. We’re the ones the gods want. We’re the ones they’re fighting over.
I was so excited to read this book it sounded right up my alley with its sci fi/dystopian genre with it’s religious/mythological undertones. When I started reading this book however I got quite worried that there was simply too much going on and that it was going to end up a overdone pile of garbage, however thankfully Mead pulled it together and by the end I was truly hooked and can’t wait to see what happens next.
What this book did well was introduce you into a complex futuristic world which is rife with politics, religious persecution and strong militaristic forces. It’s quite a lot to take in at the beginning but it’s worth sticking with patiently as understanding the background on this universe makes the remainder of this book incredibly enjoyable. I especially found the racist overtones towards those not RUNA citizens interesting along with the extreme religious bans which have been put in place. It’s going to be interesting to see how things unravel in future books on both these points as the stage has been set for some major shake ups.
Both major characters are interesting and complicated. Mae was engaging if a tad reserved and while one could argue that she was a bit boring or stiff, I think she has a real undercurrent of simmering energy which shines through just enough to want to find out more about her past, some of which is explained in this book. Justin was a fantastic character, I simply loved him complete with his drinking and womanising vices. I loved how he is a complete contradiction of intelligence and empathy vs ego and bull headedness and I really enjoyed seeing him struggle between his job and obvious belief in religion based on his personal experience. Unfortunately what doesn’t work is the relationship between these two, I kept hoping I would see the chemistry but I simply didn’t. I’m not sure if its because they came together by chance right at the very beginning of this book and it just felt out of character for both of them as the story progressed, or if I just didn’t think their personalities worked together. Either way I felt the romance was the weakest part of this story and it was a shame.
I found when reading other series by Richelle Mead that book 1 tended to be the weakest. I often recommend Vampire Academy to friends and find myself saying, don’t judge the series by book 1 however make sure you read at least the first 2 books! I also found after reading Bloodlines (book 1 of Mead’s spin off series to Vampire Academy) that I’ve put off reading books 2 and 3 as it just didn’t engage me that much. I am really hoping that this series is similar to her others and future books will just get stronger and even more captivating. I loved the touches of Norse Mythology and the quote mentioned above I just loved and I can’t wait to see how the Gods come out and play on this particular gameboard – I’m expecting it to be brilliant!
– Interesting world and religious/mythological concepts.