Monday, 17 June 2013

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

Gameboard of the Gods (Age of X, #1)Gameboard of the Gods

Author: Richelle Mead
Series: Age of X
Pages: 448
Publisher: Dutton
Genre: Adult - Paranormal

Synopsis (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.

Review: 3 out of 5 stars

I admit to having a bit of an obsession with all things Richelle Mead, I adored her Vampire Academy, Georgina Kincaid and Bloodlines series so I was more than eager to start on her adult paranormal series Age of X  but unfortunately it didn’t leave me with the euphoric feelings I usually get from a Mead book and it saddens me to rate it accordingly.

Our main protagonist is Mae Koskinen, an elite Praetorian raised in an aristocratic caste and fierce amongst her kind – at the beginning of the book she had brutally beaten another woman at a funeral, she wasn’t to be messed with and unfortunately her cold demeanour didn’t endear me to her right away although as the book progressed so too did my feelings toward her.

As part of her punishment she has been sent to Panama city to locate and return Justin March who lives in exile after failing in his job as an investigator of religious groups and supernatural claims. I wasn’t Justin’s biggest fan, he was conceited and has an obsession with booze, drugs and women; he wasn’t a hero I enjoyed reading about unfortunately despite his intelligence and knowledge.

It took me a little while to get into Gameboard of the Gods, not because it wasn’t enjoyable because the world Mead has created was certainly ambitious and interesting but the complexity of it all left my small brain scrambled as I was trying to piece together what was going on and without explanation of the terminology being used, I was baffled.

The pacing also started off really slowly as we are introduced to the characters and the world, I found myself putting the book down on numerous occasions just to mull over it all. The plot follows Mae and Justin as they go in search of a ritualistic murderer, their mission was intriguing and I found myself enjoying the mystery of it all and the secrets we came to learn.

What I did love was Mead’s futuristic world which has nearly been destroyed by religious extremists and is now separated by the Republic of the United North America (RUNA) and the Eastern Alliance (EA) with the outlying areas considered the lower castes, seen as backwards in comparison. The imagery was vividly detailed and despite the complexity, I enjoyed the uniqueness of it.

We get a bit of romance but it wasn’t convincing to me at all, there are no sweet, knee wobbling moments that had me gushing and the relaxed attitude towards having other partners sexually really put me off. I didn’t feel the connection between Justin and Mae so I wasn’t fully invested in their relationship especially considering their completely differing beliefs.

Richelle Mead’s writing is pure perfection, you can’t fault it but unfortunately this book failed to wow me as her others have. The concept was certainly promising; I enjoyed the political, religious and militant aspects but my detachment from the characters let it down for me.

Overall, Gameboard of the Gods reads differently to all of Richelle Mead’s other books; I found myself loving the game being played out and the fascinating and detailed world but there were a few too many elements which let it down for me. I do see potential in this series and will pick up the next book.

Thank-you kindly to Dutton for providing me with a copy of Gameboard of the Gods to read and review.

Richelle MeadAbout the author: Scorpio Richelle Mead is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of urban fantasy books for both adults and teens. Originally from Michigan, Richelle now lives in Seattle, Washington where she works on her three series full-time: Georgina Kincaid, Dark Swan, and Vampire Academy.

A life-long reader, Richelle has always loved mythology and folklore. When she can actually tear herself away from books (either reading or writing them), she enjoys bad reality TV, traveling, trying interesting cocktails, and shopping for dresses. She's a self-professed coffee addict and has a passion for all things wacky and humorous.


  1. I haven't tried Mead yet, but don't think this is the place to start, a lot of peeps had problems with the first half..but sometimes in series the world building can make book one dry. I will be anxious to see reviews of book two. Great review Sharon!

    1. Thanks Kimba, I'd definitely try one of her other series first - this one was disappointing.

  2. I'm skipping this one because I don't like books with too much world building. OMG, another Georgina Kincaid fan! It sucks that not a lot of people have read that series. It's my BEST SERIES EVER! I love Carter!

    1. I LOVE the Georgina Kincaid series <3 The world-building in this was intense but done well.

  3. I had a lot of the same issues. Great review!

    Cat @ A2H

    1. Thanks Cat, it was a big let down unfortunately.

  4. Yeah, I was so sad to write my review on this one :( But it didn't really do anything for me at all. I didn't connect with the characters, I didn't think the religious thing made any sense, and I didn't like the way the Nordic caste was described...

    Great review :)

    Lexxie @ (un)Conventional Bookviews

    1. Such a shame, I don't think I have given Richelle Mead anything less than a 5 so this was a huge disappointment.

  5. I'm trying to get through this book because it sounds so interesting. But you are right, it is slow in the beginning. I'm interested to see more of the mystery (I'm only about 25% of the way through). I'm starting to grow on Mae's character but I still dislike Justin. Hopefully I can get through this soon!

    1. The premise is really interesting. I never warmed to Justin unfortunately and I slooowly started to like Mae's character - I'm still curious about the sequel though.

  6. This was my introduction to Mead's writing and I liked the characters a lot but had a ton of trouble with the worldbuilding. I liked it enough to want to continue though so that's always good.

    1. Hehe, it was the opposite for me ;) I'll still be reading the sequel in the hopes of the characters changing and I have my fingers crossed another love interest is introduced.


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