Author: Richelle Mead
Release Date: 6-4-13
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. – Goodreads
Set in a future version of North America, Gameboard of the Gods combined sci-fi and paranormal mystery into a story that was a great start to a series I’ve been looking forward to. The world of Gameboard of the Gods was very interesting and I attribute this to the excellent word building. Te story is a bit of a slow build-up because the author takes her time setting the scene. While it might not be fast-paced enough for some, I think it was a great way to really make me feel like I was in the world. There is a lot of information relayed in first books and Richelle Mead manages to do this without feeling like I’m the victim of the dreaded data dump. The tow main characters, Justin and Mae, are both kind of damaged in their own way, but very different. Justin is promiscuous, charming, and always flirting with addiction. Mae is of the elite military class and is always in control, although as you learn about her past there is much more to her than just being a super-soldier. Their differences created a lot of good character contrast and I loved their interactions. There is a certain Mulder and Scully dynamic between Justin and Mae. Despite their first, um, encounter, they pretty much remained all business throughout the book. Pretty much. However, there was definitely tension there and I can only hope that we’ll see more from that in subsequent books. Another person I hope we hear more about is Tessa, the teenage ward that Justin brings to Vancouver. Her part was small in this book, but I have a feeling that we will get to know her better as the series progresses. She brings an interesting dynamic to the relationship between Justin and Mae, as well as the potential for a compelling sub-plot.
The place where the book is set, RUNA (Republic of United North America) is a very interesting place. It is a future where much has been eradicated, such as disease, poverty, etc… It is also a future where people are chipped, tracked, and tightly controlled. Part of the control is that religion is highly regulated. The religions that exist are varied and many are poly-theistic. Justin’s job is to regulate and, if necessary, shut down the religions that are operating within RUNA, but outside the rules. This plays a big role in the mystery that Mae ad Justin are trying to solve, as well as the secrets that Justin is hiding. It was really well done and I found myself becoming fascinated with the way Richelle Mead developed this new world and system of government and society. Overall, I thought that Gameboard of the Gods was a strong start to a series that I am sure I will enjoy. I am looking forward to seeing where Richelle Mead takes this series.