Jun 3, 2013

Book Review: Gameboard of the Gods by Richelle Mead

Book Cover: Gameboard of the Gods by Richelle Mead

Gameboard of the Gods

#1 in Age of X series

by Richelle Mead

Age: Adult
Genre: Dystopia, Mystery

Format: Ebook, 464 pages
Published On: June 4, 2013
Publisher: Dutton Adult
Source: Edelweiss

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First Sentence: Mae dealt out death regularly.

The Story

On a future dystopian version of Earth, religious sect inspector Dr. Justin March and super-soldier Mae Koskinen are trying to catch a serial killer before he strikes again. The plot of the book centers not only on the murder case but on a personal history of both characters and makes a very detailed introduction to the Age of X series.

The Characters

Gameboard of the Gods is narrated by three characters.

Dr. Justin March: exiled government employ, expert on religious sects, good on reading people, drug addict and womanizer. I know I should be seduced by Justin's bad boy charm but almost-always drunk or drugged males who ogle every woman in their path are just not my thing. The only part of Justin I liked are the voices he hears: ravens Horatio and Magnus. With their sarcasm and wit, Horatio and Magnus won me over but sadly as plot becomes more complex their comments are more and more rare.

Mae Koskinen: a technologically enhanced soldier and a patrician (member of high class society). Since I am a fan of kick-ass heroines and have love for blondes that goes way back to my Barbie adoring childhood years, you would have thought I would love Mae but she and I just didn't 'click'.

Third, unexpected narrator is Tessa, Justin's prodigy whose only purpose in novel is to make you swoon how Justin has parental instincts deep down and help Vampire Academy lovers have some younger character to relate to. Although Tessa was written perfectly well and I did like her, I could not help thinking that without her Gameboard of the Gods would be 100 pages shorter and nothing would be missing. In fact, I think that book would be more intense and plot more focused.

The Romance

It all starts with an insta-lust at first sight and then transforms into a forbidden love. Reason why it is forbidden is too spoilerish, so I am leaving it out. Justin and Mae try to 'cure' themselves of unwanted attraction by having sex with other people but the tension always sizzles in the background. Although I am all for romance developing slowly, it seems at time like it is going more backward than forward.

The World Building

Gameboard of the Gods is set in a future. Earth went through a Decline because of religion (among other things) and now religious organisations are strictly controlled by the state. Although government sanctioning religion can be a very interesting idea for dystopian novel, it was never explained how religion almost destroyed the world. Religious fanatics terrorist attacks? Industry fail because people went to church to pray too much? Why?!?

This is not the only hole in the plot and world building. There are many more. Like: How come future society is not more technologically advanced? Except for smart phones with voice commands, id chips and 3d projectors I have seen nothing 'new'. It's mentioned that Decline somehow caused stagnation and even degradation of technology. But I will repeat myself and say again: How?

Wait! Shouldn't There Be Mythology In This Book?

I know! There should. Well Justin and Mae are hunting down religious sects adoring Greek, Norse, Celtic and other various deities. Religion=gods=mythology. There!

What? You want more? Unless you count a couple of explanation about the origin of Gods that cults are worshiping, there is not much more. Religion is forbidden topic by the government, so all paranormal events will be ignored and no one will openly talk or mention anything mythical until the culmination of the story.

In The End...

Richelle Mead is a writer with too much experience and talent to write a total dud, but Gameboard of the Gods was just an average book for me. It had too many unexplained holes in world building to be a good dystopian and not enough mythology for my taste. The plot dragged at times and although there is no cliffhanger related to the case Justin and Mae were working on, there are many unanswered questions left.

Urban fantasy fans who like reading about hot & sexy partners working together may enjoy Gameboard of the Gods, but my advice for young adult fans, who want this book because they loved Vampire Academy series, is: read an excerpt before buying.

My Rating: 3 out of 5


  1. "Justin and Mae try to 'cure' themselves of unwanted attraction by having sex with other people but the tension always sizzles in the background."

    Umm, what? UGH. No. I think I need to remove this from my to-read list. This isn't the first review that made me think it's not worth it.

    1. Well Justin and Mae are not in a relationship (although they do have one-one stand and sex at the beginning of the book). They are both single so technically it's not cheating. But still :/
      The focus of the book is not the romance between them, so maybe it will not bother you and there are people who liked this book very much.
      I can not say I am sorry I read it because I now I will not think 'why I haven't read that mythology-something series by Richelle Mead' but I will not read next book in the series.

  2. Not to be a pain, but as far as the mythology goes, are we not counting the whole ravens and Justin's encounters thing? I have to admit that that revelation was one of my favorite parts of this one ;-)

    1. I'm a mythology freak so I immediately made the connection who the ravens belong to and also I noticed one-eyed man who was mentioned from time to time and pushed events in the way he wanted. ;) But I think these details will be missed by average reader.
      For a book who advertised it's mythology aspect I expected much more, like American Gods.

      I know you liked the book, I saw your review (I feel like a stalker now lol) I'm happy it worked for you! (And sad it didn't work for me.)

  3. The world building sounds complicated in this one. I love Richelle Mead's YA and adult books so I'm looking forward to trying this one. Although the romance does sound weird and backwards. Insta love then forbidden love and then sleeping with other people trying to get over each other. Curious where that will go in the next book.

    Jennifer @ Some Like It Paranormal

    1. Yes, everybody says it's the most complicated world Richelle Mead created. I hope they add map and glossary in final version of ebook.
      Since you loved Richelle Mead's previous novels, chances are good you are going to like Gameboard of the Gods too. I'll keep my fingers crossed for you. ;)

  4. I've heard some mixed opinions about this one. Yes somehow everyone are complaining about world-building which is surprising for me as it's Richelle. Oh damn! I love it when a book is full of mythology really. I hope I'll get to read this one...still sounds interesting and hopefully it'll get better with the next books in this series. Great review Dragana :)

    1. It seems like it is one of those you either love it or it leaves you cold kind of books. Since you love Richelle I hope you will have an opportunity to read it, I am intrigued what your reaction will be. :)

  5. Oh no! I've been really excited about this, I'm sorry it didn't rock your socks off! I think I'm getting a review copy soon, so I hope to have a review and then we can compare!

    Take care,
    Shaheen @ Speculating on SpecFic.

    1. I was really excited about it too. :( I hope you like it more than I did. Hope that review copy is delivered soon so we can talk more. :)

  6. I'm reading this now, and it wasn't until Justin and Mae's first...interaction, that I realized it was definitely not YA! Haha

    It's slow-going right now; 400+ pages are killing me!

    1. For some unknown reason a lot of people on Goodreads have labeled this as young adult. I don't know why I can only guess they haven't read the book.

      It's not going to get much faster until almost the end. :/ I hope you enjoy it more that I did Kelly.

  7. Thanks for stopping by Books Swoon and love your review. I've seen a lot of mixed feeling about Gameboard of the Gods- it should be interesting to see how I feel after reading :)

    PS New follower on Twitter and Bloglovin if you want to chat books :)

    1. Yes Gameboard of Gods definitely caused a divide between fans. I am always intrigued to read another review and read different views of the story. I will be looking forward to yours. :)

      Thanks for following, I may be sometimes slow to initiate contact but I always respond. I am looking forward to more book talk. ;)

  8. I haven't started this book yet, but I usually have a tough time getting into a dystopia world. I really liked Richelle Mead other series, so will give this one a try.

    1. This dystopian world takes some time getting used to, but most of my friends who like Richelle Mead's adult urban fiction enjoyed this one too, so I hope it will work for you too. :)


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