Review: Gameboard of the Gods by Richelle Mead
Author: Richelle Mead
Title: Gameboard of the Gods
Release: May 2013
Series: Age of X #1
Reviewer: Mona Leigh
Source: Personal Library
Purchase: | Book Depository
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.
I’ve seen all the hype surrounding this new series, but after reading the book, frankly, I’m left feeling a bit flat. Normally, I’m a strong Richelle Mead fan. I loved her Vampire Academy series and I’m following the Bloodlines series with anticipation. I read most of the Dark Swan books, but lost my connection with the characters about the time of Eugenie’s pregnancy. Her Gorgina Kincaid series didn’t appeal to me, so I skipped it after one book.
But I have to admit, I was curious about this new Age of X series and wasted no time reading it. After the first chapter, I told myself to press on certain that I’d feel a connection with the characters after a few more pages. Sadly, that connection never came.
The world building was sketchy despite the explanations of how the Cain and Mephistopheles diseases ravaged the people. And under the premise of ‘nature abhors a vacuum,’ lost gods roaming the earth looking for converts was a bit of a stretch. Much of the new world concept was like trying to grasp something concrete, but instead, coming away with a handful of fog.
I was never able to connect with the main characters, Mae and Justin. They were mildly interesting, but nothing there made me care about them or want to see them prosper.
Justin has two ravens living in his head courtesy of a lost god, and Mae has a lost goddess trying to claim her. Together, they’re destined to change the world, but Justin hides that fact from Mae. He prefers to insult her or hurt her feelings rather than level with her. Mae has so many residual feelings of familial betrayal that she’s not equipped to handle his brush-offs. They’re thrown together, but neither of them really cares any longer.
This particular story doesn’t jell as well as many of Richelle’s other works, and that lack of cohesion makes it possible to lay the book down and walk away at any point without pondering the outcome. This is disappointing since I’m really a fan and wanted to like this book.