Gameboard of the Gods

This is a review of “Gameboard of the Gods” by Richelle Mead. It is the first novel in the Age of X Series. This is an adult dystopian series.

The world has been brought to the brink of ruin by religious extremists.

Justin March is an exiled Gemman living in Provincial Panama. Panama is nothing like home. Everything feels dated. He longs to return to his homeland, the Republic of United North America (RUNA). Justin yearns for the life he once had, the technology, the refinement and the civility of society in the RUNA. He’d do anything to return.

Mae Koskinen is a beautiful and extremely dangerous Praetorian; a soldier enhanced with an implant that makes her close to invincible. As punishment for an infringement, Mae is stripped of her Praetorian Guard uniform and sent to Panama on an errand. That errand is to locate Justin March, and pass on a message. A message that contains an offer he can’t afford to refuse.

Justin’s expertise is desperately needed to solve a murder mystery. There have been multiple murders, and they all seemed to be tied to one another. Each one seems to be done at a similar time of the month, in a ritualistic way. Even more baffling, the murders seem to have supernatural involvement, and everyone knows that religion is fanciful, and supernatural happenings are, well… bullshit. Justin has got approximately one month before the killer strikes again, if the pattern of the previous murders are followed.

But just because the RUNA is offering Justin exactly want he wants, it doesn’t mean he won’t ask for more. He bargains with his employers to bring the Panamanian daughter of his close friend, into the RUNA as a student. Tessa is a highly intelligent, if very sheltered, young woman, and Justin knows that she’d blossom in the RUNA, with everything it can offer in terms of education.

Both Justin and Mae have very intriguing pasts, and both are not very forthcoming at all. Justin has to solve the mystery surrounding the murders, or it’s back to Panama for him. Can he pull it off?

I love a lot of Richelle Mead’s other works, so it is not surprising to me that I really enjoyed this novel. I loved the plot intricacies. The subject matter, especially the parts involving religion, really made me think. I love the world Mead has created in this series, and I look forward to the next installment. Mead always creates characters that are interesting, a little flawed and that have oodles of charisma. They’re easy to admire and identify with. Justin is as charismatic as Adrian from her YA Bloodlines Series and Vampire Academy Series and Dorian from her adult Dark Swan Series. He’s got charm, intelligence and sex appeal. But he’s not perfect. Mae reminds me a little of Glynn from Isobelle Carmody’s Legendsong Series. I like how the reader explores Mead’s world through different perspectives. In “Gameboard of the Gods” we get to explore events though the eyes of Mae, Justin and Tessa, which adds depth and understanding to the plot. I am definitely looking forward to a sequel (and hopefully more to follow)!

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