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Review: Gameboard of the Gods (Age of X) by Richelle Mead (To read or not to read... To read!)

Gameboard of the Gods (Age of X, #1)
Title: Gameboard of the Gods
Author: Richelle Mead
Series: Age of X
Book #: 1
Pages: 448
Reading Level:YA
Book Rating: Photobucket
Goodreads Rating: 3.81
Published: June 4th, 2013.

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.

Taschima's POV:

"Groups who were disorganized and touted nonsensical messages were the ideal candidates for licensing. They made themselves (and religion in general) look bad. The really outlandish and dangerous ones were easy too because they were instant shutdowns. Quiet, friendly ones like Claude's were trickier because they could initially attract followers with reasonable messages, and then eventually blow up in the RUNA's face as dissent among themselves and against authority grew." pg.130

Gameboard of the Gods has a very well built world, interesting premise, and kick ass characters. On the other hand it was slow to start, there's a lot of religious talk, and I didn't feel very connected to said characters. So it's a toss up! I personally liked it, and will continue on with the series because:

1. It's Richelle Mead, I have faith in her writing
2. It's a very complicated book she is writing and more original than anything else out there (a society of atheists who pretty much ban the free practice of religion and a number of gods who are truly pissed about this and are making their move to bring it down? Sign me up!)
3. Most first books are used to set the stage for the rest of the series, the premise, so it may be slow to start but what matters is that it hooks you by the end, and it hooked me.

Mae is a praetorian, which means she is one of the deadliest soldiers in the military. When Mae gets in trouble with said military, she is pulled from active duty and tasked with finding this one guy who everybody considers a genius, Justin March. Justin is an exile of the RUNA (country's name), but now they want him back in order to solve a string of very weird (supernatural?) murders occurring in their beloved country. Mae gets paired up as a bodyguard to Justin. Together they must solve the crimes before the next full moon in order to prevent another killing, and Justin's return to exile.

GotGs was a very interesting, tough pillow to swallow. I know Richelle Mead has a huge Young Adult following from Vampire Academy, as that is where my love for her writing started, but let me just warn you Gameboard of the Gods is nothing like VA. It was more easy for me to get into VA than it was for me to get into GotGs. At the beginning is slow, there's a lot of religious talk that turned me off, and it was written in third person POV. I don't know why, but third person POV and Richelle Mead don't seem to mix very well. But as the story progressed, around maybe page 160, I started to get invested. It took a while, true, but the beginning is a lot of detective work with not a lot of excitement. Well, the beginning starts off with a fight in a funeral which was exciting, so the first 40-50 pages where exciting, then it slowed down until page 150.

The whole novel reminded me of series like Castle, Bones, Elementary (which is Sherlock Holmes for the USA), where the detectives go out and try to solve a crime. Only not so mundane once they start uncovering the supernatural clues. That is the thing, the Supernatural element is always there but not until well into the novel do you, much like the characters themselves, start believing it's real. But the gods are surely waking up, and they are making their move. When it comes to dais gods it isn't solely christian or Greek gods (I heard no mention of Zeus, Hades, or Poseidon so sorry Percy Jackson fans!) it's also Norse gods and who-the-hell-remembers-from-classical-mythology-class number of gods.

When it comes to the characters, Justin and Mae, is where we hit a bit of a struggle. Justin reminded me of Adrian from VA/Bloodlines, only much much more observant. He is fun and everything but I wasn't in love. Mae is very closed off which makes it even HARDER to feel connected to her. Something that doesn't help with this dilemma? 3rd person POV! I think if it had been written in first person POV I would be singing a different tune. Oh there is also Tessa, Justin's prodigy. She was a little bland, though her occasions of genius were very interesting.

Final verdict, I am cozying it up with the novel. It's a GREAT concept, something I am looking forward to reading in the future.

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ARC provided by publisher through Edelweiss/BEA in exchange for an honest review.

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