Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Review: Gameboard of the Gods by Richelle Mead

Gameboard of the Gods (Age of X, #1)
Gameboard of the Gods by Richelle Mead
Publisher: Dutton Adult
Publication date: June 4th 2013
My rating:   4 stars


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.



Being a long time fan of Richelle Mead’s I was eager to get my hands on a copy of Gameboard of the Gods.  While it was slow for me in the beginning, I did eventually settle in and from there on out I didn’t want to put it down.  Had it not been for work I would’ve burned right through the near 500 pages of this book. 

We are introduced to a futuristic world where the Republic of United North America, the RUNA, is in power, put in place after the Decline.  In this shining, new, wonderful world the three things the RUNA hold responsible for the Decline: biological manipulation, religion, and cultural separatism, are mostly against the law.  Justin March used to be at the center of this world when he was the much revered servitor, an investigator of “religious groups and supernatural claims” with brilliant deductive skills, and enough charm to seduce the truth out of anyone.  Justin was exiled from the RUNA four years ago, but when a chance comes up to get back into the fold, and back into his beloved country, Justin jumps at it.  He’s brought in after a series of troubling murders hint at supernatural and religious involvement, his area of expertise.   

Mae was born into the privileged castes, but is now a member of the elite Praetorian Guard known for their lethal skills and enhanced abilities. When a loss of control lands her in hot water, part of her punishment is to retrieve Justin from his exile in the provinces and bring him back for duty.  Mae is a staunch believer the RUNA’s ideals.  She doesn’t believe in gods or anything supernatural.  But as the investigation goes on Mae makes discoveries about the world and even herself, that shake up everything she’s was raised to believe.

Beginning Gameboard of the Gods was something that required patience.  I spent some time getting acquainted with the world and its dynamics, and had some trouble keeping everything straight at first.  There was no tutorial explaining A or B, and as a reader you’re sort of dumped into the middle of things having to piece it together as you go.  Slowly things started to come together and I felt the suspense and intrigue amp up little by little. 

I loved Mae from the beginning.  I connected with her character, and felt like I fully understood her motivations.   She was hard working, loyal, fierce, and everything to admire.  Of course there’s a romance between Mae and Justin but it is fraught with trouble.  However, none of it is her fault, AT ALL!  (I kind of sound like a scorned woman, right?)   

Justin, oh Justin…..*sigh* I have conflicted feelings about him.  He has a mind reminiscent of a modern day Sherlock Holms, complete with vices.  He’s extremely observant, ferreting out crucial information through scant details, and coming to conclusions that never fail to impress everyone around.  He’s charming, and that combined with his good looks is a potent combination for the opposite sex, something he takes full advantage of.  Mae is different to him, but there are problems.  Richelle Mead never makes romances easy, does she? Think back on Dimitri and Rose and their history.  Justin and Mae have some heated connections that keep us hoping.  Some samples:

"I tie an excellent knot. And then I'll drag things out as long as I want, do whatever I want. You don't beg much, do you? But you will...you will, and you'll love it."*

“You know, the first time I saw you—before the alley—my whole world came to a stop. Everything else in that room faded to nothing, and there was only you, with your beautiful neck and your winter sunlight hair and eyes that commanded the room.” *

Still, Justin is nothing like noble Dimitri.  His womanizing grated on my nerves, and while I understood the issues with Mae, it still bugged me.  In the end it seemed like all the fighting against the inevitable was pointless, but I guess we’ll see in the next book. 

The mystery of the Patrician Murders is solved and so that part of the story is wrapped up nicely, but we are left with unanswered questions and a whole new world for both Mae and Justin as far as their beliefs and assignments.  I can’t wait to see how things progress between these two as well.  For my part, if I were Mae a nice frying pan over his head would’ve made me happy!

I will be meeting up with Richelle Mead today (Wednesday) at an author event.  I have some questions for her about this series and the Bloodlines series, so I’m really excited to see her again.  I’ll be reporting back to you lovely readers on Saturday! 

*Quotes taken from an uncorrected proof and may change in the final copy.
 




35 comments:

  1. Great review Rachel! I'll also be there for the signings tomorrow, so I'll see you soon :)

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  2. Actually, I found both Mae and Justin incredibly frustrating, but in a way, I understood them both and I felt that the characterization is this book's strongest point. And ohmygod the worldbuilding! I loved it! I'm still stuck there, really.
    Wonderful review, Rachel! Have fun at the event.

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  3. I haven't read Richelle Mead's previous books (though I really have to!) but I'm looking forward to this one. The premise sounds really cool, just like my kind of book. Great review, and have an awesome time at the signing!

    Richa @ City of Books

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    1. Thank you, Richa! I hope you like it. :)

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  4. The way you talk about the characters captivated me. Thanks for the review, Rachel.

    -Dannielle

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  5. Gahhh YES. I cannot wait to actually read this one, Rachel, because I swear Richelle's books never cease to amazing me. I think that Mae and Justin sound like irritatingly awesome characters (much like Rose and Dmitri), which is what sold me on the VA series. I'm definitely going to need to read this one, stat! Great review :)

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    1. I think you'll find this very different from Mead's YA series, Melissa. I can't wait to see what you think. And thanks! :)

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  6. Great review Rach. I was wondering if to try this one of not but I'm still not sure. Maybe I will! Glad you liked it though. x

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  7. Hmmmm. I'm not quite sure about this one Rachel! You gave it a 4 which is a good thing, but I do worry about Justin's womanizing. I feel like I may have an issue with it. I think we're going to have to have another email discussion about this book wherein you give me all the details so I can make an educated decision about reading this book! Richelle definitely never makes romances easy, but I was never all out frustrated with Rose and Dimitri, I just hurt for them. I feel like frustration may play a big role with Justin:)

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  8. Fantastic review, definitely going to grab this :D How many pages into the book before it started getting better? I certainly hope it wasn't half way through the book before it got good :( I do love Richelle Mead though and I'm so envious that you could meet with her, I've met her once and she was so fab!

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    1. I'd say for about a third of the book, maybe more it's a little slow going. It does grab your attention right away though, so I can't say it was boring, just that you had to pay more than the usual attention while reading, Angelica. :)

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  9. I'm so sad, b/c I love Mead's VA series, but this doesn't appeal to me at all. And it's not that I want her to keep writing the same story over again, I just don't think I would fall in love with GotG. But maybe I will give it a try. Great review, Rachel. Enjoy the event!

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    1. This is very different from VA, Andrea, so if this may not be for you. Thanks! I hope I do. :)

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  10. Oh my gosh where I have I been! I thought this book was an erotic romance. Lol. The blue and white cover looks a lot like another book that I know is erotic romance. So I just assumed. Ooops.

    Great review! This sounds amazing.

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  11. Oh God, I totally forgot that this was RM's Adult title. That quote was pretty hot, now I can't wait to meet Justin. I'm so glad that the story was wrapped up with no cliffy but still had some what-happens-next question. Great review, Rachel! Have fun at the signing :)

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  12. Glad to see that you liked it! I was a bit hesitant because I haven't read any of Mead's adult novels but I like the sound of this futuristic world. Maybe I'll give it a go. Loved your review :)

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  13. Ohh, 4 stars! *averts eyes* I haven't had a chance to read this yet, but you can bet I'll be swinging by to see what you thought when I'm done.

    *peeks*

    Wendy @ The Midnight Garden

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  14. Loved that second quote. I LOVE LOVE LOVE this book so much! My review'll go up tomorrow and basically we feel the same. I am so jealous of you meeting Richelle who is my favorite author among J.K. Rowling, Colleen Hoover and a few more and I'd probably faint infront of her. Anyhow, I hope you had a great time with her today. I am dying from jealousy haha. But it's a good one -- I really hope you had fun and I can't wait to see what happens next either ;) thanks for sharing love! PS. I think *hope* Richelle will get these two together. She loves a HEA and I'm pretty certain we'll have to suffer a lot, but will get our HEA for these two lovebirds :)

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  15. I'm really torn when it comes to this book. I've heard both good and bad things about it and I think I could survive everything if I just get through the start. I need something fast and action-wrapped after all these exams! Great review Rachel :)

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  16. I don't have too much patience for slow starts, but I'm glad you enjoyed this one. I think I'll wait till the whole series is out before picking it up, but it seems promising! Great review, Rachel!(:

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  17. My review goes up tomorrow and I totally struggled with the start of this one but it gets really good at the end and the storyline is on its way to something totally unique! I am so jelly you are meeting Richelle! Doing my best Napoleon Dynamite accent... "Lucky"

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  18. I loved VA, though I'm unsure about how much I will love this new series by Mead. Previous attempts to get into adult books by YA authors I love haven't gone so well. Nonetheless, I will be trying this one out. I'm glad you liked it and I hope the next books are even better, since they most likely won't start out as slow.

    -Taylor @ Reading is the Thing

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  19. Rachel! I'm almost finished with this one! I really like it. Fantastic review!

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  20. Unputdownable is always good and Justin and Mae sound almost as good as Rose and Dmitri (though I was always team Adrian)! I love Richelle Mead's books so definitely wanting for this one :D

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  21. I'm so excited for this book! Like I can't even control my excitement.

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  22. I'm pretty sure I'll enjoy this one, but I do think I'll have to wait for the right moment. From what I can tell, most people seem to have needed to concentrate during the start, so I'll probably put this off until I'm a little more relaxed. Lovely review, Rachel!

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  23. I was actually thinking of DNFing this book because, like you said, it started out really slow. I now know that it definitely gets better though, so i'm not giving up on it yet!

    - Ellie at The Selkie Reads Stories

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  24. I LOVE me some Richelle Mead so I'm going to have to get a copy of this! Awesome review Rachel, I hope you have a great time meeting her I'm only a teeny bit jealous! ;)

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  25. I think I would really like Mae and Justin as well.

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  26. Ok, so confession time: I haven't read anything by Richelle Mead yet. *hides face* But I most definitely plan to pick up one of her books soon! I'm glad that you managed to enjoy this one overall, Rachel, even with that slow start. I can only imagine how confusing everything would be, being dumped into such an unfamiliar setting. I'm glad you were able to catch on quickly though. =) Mae seems like a character I would love, although I'm not too sure about Justin. Womanizing guys always irritate me so much. (And ahem, that frying pan reference did not go unnoticed by me. ;))

    You're so lucky to be able to go to a Richelle Mead signing! I hope you have fun, and I can't wait to read all about it.

    Lovely review as always, Rachel. <3

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  27. I'm glad this one picked up for you after the slow start. And look forward to hearing back from you after your chat with Richelle :) Great review Rachel.

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  28. Think this is the second review I've read where someone has said that they stuggled with the start of this book. I don't hink I'd have a hope of understanding what was going on! Glad you enjoyed it though!

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  29. Sounds pretty cool - but I need to catch up on Bloodlines before I get started on this!

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  30. I have never read Richelle Mead, but have thought too. I think I will wait on this book though, until more of the series is published. I don't like info dump books unless I can immediately read the next, follow up book.

    Hyacinth Marius (Everett Bankruptcy Attorney)

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