Friday, June 14, 2013

Book Review: Gameboard of the Gods by Richelle Mead

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Title: Gameboard of the Gods
Author: Richelle Mead
Publisher: Dutton Adult
Series: Age of X, Book 1
Hardcover: 464 pages
Summary: (taken from Goodreads)
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.
Overall Rating: 4 out of 5

*Note: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher at BookExpo America.*

Okay, so when I first started reading this, I was a bit flummoxed and I maybe, may have reacted a little too strongly. It went along the lines of:

What is this?! This isn't Richelle Mead! What's all this science fiction stuff doing in here? Where's the witty banter? The paranormal stuff? WHAT IS HAPPENING?!

But then I calmed down. Because, as it turns out, there is witty banter and quite a bit of mythology/fantasy elements. Mead just had to set the scene for us. And after a few dozen pages, I started to really get into the story.

This is definitely a science fiction book (yes, with mythology elements -- SO COOL!) and most definitely not young adult, but I became a Richelle Mead fan through her Georgina Kincaid series, and I actually prefer her adult books. I'm also a huge fan of science fiction -- just transitioning from my expectations of what Mead usually brings to what she brought with Gameboard of the Gods was a little difficult.

With that said, Gameboard of the Gods is brilliant and I am amazed by Richelle Mead's talent and skill all over again. This is a terrifyingly realistic portrayal of a futuristic society in which the government severely limits religious practice, and the gods are starting to fight back. I loved the characters, and I especially loved the tension that fills Justin and Mae's relationship. (But, let's face it: creating a dynamic like that is Mead's forte.) There's also a lot of action where Mae kicks some serious butt.

*sigh* I love strong female characters.

The way the story unfolds is masterfully done; at the beginning, it all seemed very on-the-level and I wasn't really sure where the story was heading, but then clues and pieces of the puzzle started to drop in to create a story and a world I totally wasn't expecting. And it's not like the revelations ever end, either. Right up until the very last page, new facets are added to the world and the characters that live in it. Of course, not everything is resolved and I still have TONS of questions and ponderings about what's to come, but that's why this is a series, right?

Well done, Mead. Well done. I'm hooked.