*I received an ARC of this novel through NetGalley from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Summary 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.
Gameboard of the Gods, the first installment of Richelle Mead’s Age of Xseries, 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.
So I really struggled with how to rate this book. There were parts that I didn’t like, parts that bored me, parts I LOVED, and parts that were good and others that were mediocre. Overall, did I like/enjoy the book? Yes, yes I did. There just seemed to be some lacking elements.
In the beginning I wasn’t immediately drawn in, for me the first 20-30% of the book was confusing and at times pretty boring. I don’t generally enjoy third-person narrative and with all the different names/places/ideas that I was supposed remember, t became all muddled together and difficult to follow. I also didn’t really connect with the three main MC’S (Mae, Justin, & Tessa – although Tessa to a lesser extent) right away. That’s actually extremely rare for me when it comes to a Richelle Mead novel.
However, after 30% the intrigue and character development definitely picked up. I grew to enjoy the characters but still struggled to truly connect with them at times. Generally I tend to say that my favorite parts of any Richelle Mead novel are the characters. With Gameboard of the Gods this was not necessarily the case, I actually enjoyed the plot/mystery more. I truly enjoyed the adventures Mae and Justin (and sometimes Tessa) took part in. I thought the story line was pretty clever but at times had things that were logically missing. However, I did think Mead’s usage of all different types of mythology was interesting and since I’m a mythology nerd it was nice to see the story not just revolve around the typical Roman/Greek gods.
I also really, REALLY thought the idea of a society void of large religious sects was pretty awesome. Although certain areas outside R.U.N.A. practiced religion, it was amazing to see R.U.N.A. sanction and monitor religious activity the way they did. This was a really different take on the sort-of stereo-typical dystopian/sci-fi. I thought overall it was a pretty awesome spin.
As the novel progressed, Mae and Justin definitely grew on me. I thought Mae was pretty bad-ass with her super-warrior skills and icy demeanor. Justin was arrogant and flippant but I still found him endearing and rather sexy. I just felt it was difficult for me to truly become invested in either one of them until about 60-ish% through the novel.
Overall, I did enjoy this novel. It just wasn’t as stellar as I expected it to be. It still contained the awesome Richelle Mead plot-line but the character/world development missed the mark a little bit for me. I would still continue reading the series and would recommend this book to others, I would just issue the warning that this series isn’t nearly as intense as Mead’s other works. I’m excited to see where this series goes and won’t give up on it despite the debut not quite meeting my expectations.