Sunday, June 2, 2013

Early Review: Gameboard of the Gods (Age of X #1) by Richelle Mead

Release Date: June 4, 2013
Page Count: 464 pages
Published by: Dutton Adult
Source: ARC provided by Edelweiss
Author Links: Website | Facebook | Twitter

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.

Gameboard of the Gods was a story with an interesting premise and the potential for Mead to deliver something fresh and unique to the fantasy genre. 

Unfortunately, I found very little appeal in the world building, the mystery that becomes the main focus of the story, and the romantic relationship development between the two main characters. Also, I'm left feeling a little confused as to why the story was occasionally told through the point of view of the young girl, Tessa. She may prove to play a larger role in future stories, but I felt that she contributed very little to the overall story line in this debut.

What I did enjoy about Gameboard of the Gods was the mystery surrounding the gods themselves and Mae's role in their games. Mae was a tough protagonist, one of the fiercest of the praetorian fighters, and was loyal to her job and her country. 

In the beginning of the story Mae is temporarily stripped of her uniform and reassigned due to a fight where she assaults and badly injures another soldier. During the altercation, Mae mentions a dark force that occasionally drives her actions and for me that became the most interesting aspect of the story.

Aside from Mae and the young girl Tessa, we also experience the story from the point of view of Dr. Justin March. While I can admit to liking his character in the beginning, mostly because of the two ravens that he converses with inside of his head, my infatuation with him quickly faded. He made a terrible love interest for Mae and the fact that she even remained attracted to him was a big obstacle that I was having difficulty overcoming. She suffers through Justin's arrogance and thoughtlessness, his substance abuse and constantly sleeping with different women. And her attraction to him remained because of a one night stand they shared at the beginning of the story. I understand that it was necessary that March avoid falling for Mae, but there was no reason for him to be such a sleazebag. And to make it worse, Mae was responsible for protecting him. She had much more to offer than Justin did. She didn't need him.

I liked the concept of the various gods choosing particular people to serve them and their interests in Justin and Mae. We learn a little more about some of these gods toward the end of the story and the effect that they will continue to have on Mae's life.  

The blurb promises "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." 

Unfortunately, this is only partially true. Subtract the romantic intrigue. Take away the relentless action and suspense. What you have left is the mythological intrigue, a couple of interesting characters, and a series that I'm not sure I will continue. 


Amber I @ Awesomesauce said...

First review I read about this book. And well I'm not sure I'm going to read it. I wanted to see if you loved it because I wasn't sure about it. But I think I'll pass, for now at least.

fishgirl182 said...

sorry to hear that this wasn't a winner for you. i am only about 10% in so far and i don't know where it's going just yet. i just started a chapter that is from tessa's pov and i think i will probably have to agree with your assessment of her pov. right now, i am not sure why we need to see things from her eyes. but i love richelle mead so i will give anything by her a chance. and perhaps the series will get better as it continues.

fishgirl182 @ nite lite book reviews

Addicted2Heroines said...

I'm in the minority with this one, Amber. Of the ratings I've seen so far, people really seem to have enjoyed this.

Looking forward to your review, Thuy ;-)

Goldilox said...

Actually Cat I'm seeing A LOT of bad reviews for this. All Things Urban Fantasy gave it one or two stars! :( I have an ARC of this through NG but I haven't started it yet cause I'm scared. Several people have given it good reviews, but everyone I KNOW or the blogs I FOLLOW are all giving it reviews similar to yours.

Alexa said...

Aw I'm really sad that many people are just plain not enjoying this book. I really love stories about Gods and Goddesses so I'm really sad this didn't work for so many including yourself.

Thanks for the honest review though!

Tina B said...

I have read several reviews like yours stating that it seemed to fall short. It kind of upsets me because I love her. :)
Thanks for sharing.

Ning said...

I really wanted to read this because the idea just sounds so intriguing, but I never finished vampire academy or read her other books so i"m not a huge fan of hers. I've seen a mix of reviews for this, but I'll probably get it from the library to try it.

Seattle Criminal Attorney said...

I had such high hopes for Gameboard of the Gods for the same reason as you - I adore RM's books, normally. I didn't really connect with this one though :(

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