Review: Gameboard of the Gods by Richelle Mead

Saturday, March 30, 2013
Title: Gameboard of the Gods
Author: Richelle Mead
Genre: dystopia, post-apocalyptic, fantasy
Series: Age of X #1
Pages: 472 (ARC edition)
Published: expected June 4 2013
Source: publishers via NetGalley
Rating: 4.5/5

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.

My first -- and far from last -- Richelle Mead novel, Gameboard of the Gods could not have been a better or more fun introduction to this popular author. A mix of futuristic science fiction, mystery, old school mythology, dystopia and post-apocalyptic genres, this book is weird and odd, and above all, really, really good. It takes a while to build into the tour de force of awesome it is, but the slow start is more than worth the time and wait. Gameboard of the Gods is creative, fast-paced, full of action and just plain fun. As the first in a new series, it's a promising beginning and one that leaves the reader eagerly anticipating what else Mead will cook up next for her adaptable protagonists.

The first hundred pages present the hardest challenge - there are a lot of terms, ideas thrown around and this is an author that doesn't believe an infodump of explanations are the way to immerse her readers into a new world. Rather, Mead doesn't immediately lay out her worldbuilding, but slowly reveals it through the characters' dialogue, actions, and inner monologues. And this created world, post-"Decline" - is a fascinating, thoroughly original one. There are still some gray areas left in how the Republic of United North America formed and operates, but with the first in the series, a remarkable amount of information is subtly dispensed to the audience. I have faith and the patience to see how Mead further carries the ideas she's laid the foundation for here with the sequels that are forthcoming.

Character-wise, this book is just as strong as it is in writing and plotting. Lead characters Mae and Justin complement each other very well, despite (or maybe because of) their many differences. They have palpable chemistry, and a complicated relationship that evolves just as much as the two of them do individually. Tjeir interplay and banter are consistently top-notch. I loved the typical-role reversal between the two as well. Usually it's a strong man protecting a brilliant woman, but Mae is the muscle (and has her fair share of brains), with Justin relying on her to protect them as they race to solve a mystery that tests everything both of them have been raised to believe.

If you like a well-crafted mystery, with two likeable and flawed protagonists (with intense chemistry), or if you like mythology with a fresh spin, or if you like well-done and thought-out dystopias with a side of post-apocalyptic world-building, Gameboard of the Gods is your newest best book friend. Great action scenes, a clever mystery and two great characters make this a very involving and compelling book. If this is how the series begins, I am very curious to see what happens next for the praetorian and the servitor. I only hope the next book isn't too long in coming!


  1. Great review! I actually never knew that there was a new series by Richelle Mead. Thanks for sharing this! Hope I could wait till June though to get a copy :D

    xoxo, Mariam

  2. I haven't read this author's other books yet but this one looks phenomenal! I love the cover and it sounds great. Awesome review :)I'm really looking forward to this one now.
    -Kimberly @ Turning the Pages

  3. Oh I really like Mead's other books and I can't wait to read this one. I have it marked in my phone so I can get it when it comes out.

  4. I'm so glad you enjoyed this one! I didn't bother with Mead after VA since I wasn't too keen on starting Bloodlines and even with this series, I was skeptical about adding it to my shelves, but I definitely think I'll be reading it now. It sounds too good to miss out on! :)

  5. ERMAGAWD I just finished reading excerpt #2 of Richelle's new book, and I gotta say, SUPER EXCITED! :D I don't mind that it's not YA, and I'm rather happy that it's more... hardcore and adult, because this is my kind of genre too :)

  6. This sounds like it's going to be an amazing read! It sounds really different to books that I've read in the past, which makes me excited! I'm definitely adding this one to my tbr pile. Thanks for the introduction!

    Hyacinth Marius (Everett Bankruptcy Attorneys)


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