Y’all, I had the most awesome intro all typed up and ready to go for this review of Gameboard Of The Gods by Richelle Mead, but then silly old wordpress ate it. Alas. I will try to rewrite my awesome intro from memory, so bear with me. You ever get SO excited for a book because A) it’s by one of your all time favorite authors and B) it has to do with one of your all time favorite topics BUT THEN said book does not live up to all the hype you built up in your head and you don’t know whether to blame yourself or to blame the book? That exact scenario happened to me with Gameboard Of The Gods, the first book in Mead’s new adult Age Of X series. I mean, come on, this book was about CULTS and y’all I live to read about cults. Alas, it was just not meant to be.
Justin March has been exiled from RUNA (basically the US and Canada combined) for reasons unknown to the reader and is currently living in Panama, which is not exactly the bastion of civilization that RUNA is. Mae Koskinian is a praetorian guard, which basically means she is an elite member of the military and has had her body chipped so she’s kind of like a super human. The paths of the two cross when Mae is asked to be Justin’s body guard and to bring him back to RUNA so he can solve a case of ritualistic murders and bust up a new cult. You see, RUNA has a pretty big cult problem. Oh, and a big problem between Justin and Mae? He basically lied to her and they slept together, so there’s a bit of animosity between the two.
The two main characters of Gameboard Of The Gods were likable enough, but I just never really felt a deep emotional pull toward caring about them. This book is written in third person rather than first, which you know works great for a ton of books. But I kind of felt a disconnect from the two main characters because of that. I never really found myself all that invested in Mae or Justin. Don’t get me wrong, I think Mae is a total badass. I loved that Mae was the strong one and the protector. However, I felt that Justin came across as a bit of a womanizing man child and that’s just not really my thing, ya know? I also felt as though I would have liked Gameboard Of The Gods better if it was more tightly focused on ONE main character instead of two, just because maybe that emotional gap from the characters as a reader would have been bridged.
Honestly, I think that one of the things Mead excels at is incorporating romance into her stories where your heart is beating hard from both the adrenaline and action, but also from the sexual tension. I would say that in Gameboard Of The Gods there is definite sexual tension between Mae and Justin, they are obviously into each other and obviously fighting it quite hard. However, I was not entirely convinced of the romance, like I just didn’t buy into it as I did with Rose and Dmitri or Sydney and Adrian. It just didn’t quite have the zest of young love, and again, this may just be a result of my extreme expectations and also the result of my feeling a disconnect.
However, the world building in Gameboard Of The Gods is kind of cool, if not a bit confusing and disorienting. Basically, there’s RUNA which is this huge world conglomeration, empire country nation. Citizens of RUNA are all chipped which isn’t as big of a deal as it sounds. They also all have these things called egos, which I gathered to be super sophisticated iphones. ALSO. Religion is kind of not cool in RUNA, because they used to have massive cult problems. Which, basically this whole book is based on finding out which cult is behind the ritualistic murders. This book did teach me something, and that is that I am not in love with cult books that focus on many cults instead of getting inside just one cult. Alas, it happens.
Unfortunately, I did not quite whip through this book as fast as I had expected. I was never super engaged with the story. Hey, it happens. Not every book by one of my favorite authors can be a winner. I am okay with that. Personally, this reader thought Gameboard Of The Gods was too slow-going and just not as tightly focused as I like. That’s on me though. If you like the concept, if you are okay with a bigger picture and maybe a book that takes it’s sweet time, then go ahead and read Richelle Mead’s Gameboard Of The Gods you may very well love it. Me, I was not it’s biggest fan and that is just fine.
Disclosure: Received for review via Netgalley
Other reviews of Gameboard Of The Gods:
Tynga’s Reviews – “I didn’t get any Vampire Academy vibes from this novel, but I enjoyed it nonetheless.”
Mission To Read – “The plot, even with it’s info dump issues, was one that didn’t leave me.”
Somewhere Between The Pages – “I found this book to be slow-paced, confusing, and, to be frank, a little dull in places.”
Books by Richelle Mead:
Vampire Academy (start here and you can find links to reviews of the other books)
Bloodlines (Also, start here and click around for links to reviews of other books in the series)