May 7, 2013

ARC Review - Gameboard of the Gods by Richelle Mead

Title: Gameboard of the Gods
Author: Richelle Mead
Series: Age of X #1 
Length: 464 pages
Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
Original Publication Date: 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.

Gameboard of the Gods, the first installment of Richelle Mead’s Age of X series, 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.

Everyone who knows me knows that I'm a big fan of Richelle Mead. I consider her a very good writer who writes her characters with great love and builds up the world in which the story takes place always with great care and professionalism. So I was really looking forward to this novel as well, since Richelle posted a lot of interesting things about the background info of the story, we constantly got brief details, quotations, which are just increased my want for GotG. After that, my joy knew no bounds when I had to opportunity long before the release, to get an ARC copy.

What did I expect?  What we always got from Richelle. Lovable, funny and strong characters,  an exciting and well-constructed world and a lot of twist in the story, which we can think of a lot and an ending that after I'll bite my nails and demand the sequel.

The first chapter gave me what I expected, a strong, brave, cool heroine, Mae Koskinen, a conflict which she dealt with her own specific way, and so it she got herself into a lot of trouble. The book is written in the third person. Most of the time it's from Justin's and Mae's perspective, but it will occasionally switch and spend time in the mind of and other character. So when the point of view has switched so suddenly from Mae to Justin I got really confused. After the exciting beginning, the story picked up a much slower pace, we got a lot of descriptions - I understand the need to introduce a world - but it was a bit much for me. When it comes to Richelle's books, I'm used to fast spinning events and the first half of this book was very slow and at times I felt that we were getting nowhere. The second half of the book was good, I loved when the  investigation (finally) set off, the mystery, and the complete meanings of the lot of information from the beginning were all falling into place like a jigsaw puzzle. And in the end! We got the punch line that we were waiting for, at least.

The Dystopian part of the world was perfect - at least for me. The classes, the background story, the cities, the people, the school, the ultra-modern equipment and any other description were very professional, well worthy of Richelle's reputation. However, then came the paranormal part. Religion, unexplained phenomena, mythology, constantly talking ravens in Justin mind. Separately, both world building would deserve a novel, or a series, but together...nah. Sometimes it created a big chaos and way hard to understand - not only for the characters, but for me too - what was going on.

As for the characters: As I already mentioned before, Mae is a strong, brave, cool heroine. I loved every inch of her, and in my humble opinion she would have been able to carry the whole story on her own.  I really liked that in addition to being almost perfect - because she's a beautiful young and hardcore professional soldier, she's lives in reality and walks on the ground. But still she has some flaws, her history and family background haunts her constantly making her vulnerable. I loved reading about her stuff and devoured the pages when she appeared. BUT - there was the other main character, Justin. Every heroine need a hero by her side. Well, we got one. But not exactly the kind of hero that I was hoping for. I'm used to Richelle creates such male characters with whom I'm able to instantly fall in mad love. The kind that where the author does not have to describe to me how HOT and good the guy is, because I can perfectly tell that based on his actions and behavior and I'd give anything for his real existence. Unfortunately, this wasn't the case here. Justin could not charm me. For me, he's a shallow, debased figure, whose only positive aspect is that he's capable of anything for his loved ones. But if Richelle wouldn't have describe how Justin is a charming, HOT guy, whom every woman has a crush on, I would have not found out myself. So the love story, which slowly developing between Mae and Justin,  for me was a pale and inauthentic. I just could not believe that a woman with such qualities as Mae, what could possibly like about a man like him. But in other cases, Richelle managed to create a my kind of hero. Mae's ex-boyfriend. There was no more than five pages involving him, but still, I knew, I FELT what she loved about him. Shame, really. Oh yeah, and Justin is smart, that's why they believe will have a chance to find out more about the mysterious murders, than the RUNA's best detective could.  In comparison, there is an interesting moment at the end of the book. I - who is not as smart as Justin -  had a pretty good call on who or what was behind these crimes. Justin faced with it, he got enough traces and clues and it was like a neon sign pointing the way to the answer and yet .. he had to think about it for long hours, before he realized what it was. TADAMMM, congratulations! * Lupi quietly banging her head against the wall *. I would have preferred if Mae would be the main character and Justing her partner (as it is now, unfortunately, vice versa), because she is much more interesting character, but this is unfortunately not a request show.

Favorite character(s): Mae
Favorite scene(s): Mae's decision after the ball and generally all of her parts.

Overall: Despite its flaws I see a great story in the depths of the book somewhere and as the second half of the book we jumped in the thick of things, I feel that it will be better. So I am looking forward to the sequel, because I'd like to read further about Mae and I also hope that Justin's character is going to be improved as well.

Reviewed by:

DhesiX Web Developer

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