Age of X #1. Penguin (June 2013) Own
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.
Mae is a Praetorian, a super soldier with enormous amounts of strength and speed due to an implant given to all soldiers. She prides herself on being who she is and on her strength. She grew up in a rich Nordic home and was the only one in the family who hadn't suffered from Cain, a virus that makes you infertile and asthmatic. She got out of there to join the military. On the day you meet Mae she is going to a funeral and is particularly riled up by this Praetorian death. One thing leads to another and she is being punished and sent to Panama to retrieve Justin March, an intelligent strategist who is supposedly the key to a new case of homicides. He is specifically wanted because of the only evidence that the government is able to find, something inhuman.
I want to point out that there are a lot of negative reviews out there for Gameboard of the Gods. People either really like or hate this book. It is a very long book, about 400 pages or more and it does have some sex scenes and talk of sex. It's an adult book that can be categorized for older young adults as well. If you aren't into the book after the first chapter you might end up not liking this book. I'm just leaving that out there before I tell you what I think.
I think I loved this book. The pace was just right for me. It was methodical and it just made me happier because there was so much more that could happen to the three main characters. There are three POV's. It mostly goes from Mae and Justin but there's also Tessa, a young prodigy that Justin brought back from RUNA. Her point of view was crucial to the story. She saw things in a completely different way from the people of RUNA. She saw how they secretly worshiped a God even if religion at that time was a touchy subject (well whenever hasn't it been?). She also provided a way to see into the life of someone who was an immigrant. She didn't know about all of the technology and struggled with school. She was talked loudly at because clearly since she's from another country she is deaf. And she constantly is asked to repeat herself and given looks when people hear her accent. The people of the RUNA think they are all better than everyone else. The way Mead showed different aspects of our culture, religion, and perspective on how we see ourselves in the world was pure brilliance. RUNA is the U.S. and Tessa is an immigrant. She shows that relation between the U.S. and immigrants today so well. I wonder if my father felt so out of place like Tessa did...
Mae is Mae. I didn't find her robotic or boring. She talked in a very... articulate way. That was just who she is. She was a very strong heroine not only in her actual physical strength but with how she carried herself. She wasn't pompous like her other family members probably because she didn't grow up bitter. When she showed her soft side you got a sense that she's not just a weapon but an actual human being. Most people in the RUNA are terrified of the Praetorian's so throughout the story Mead broke that boundary between Praetorian and a regular person. It's like she was someone who was seen as a threat but she really wasn't as long as you didn't attack her or anyone she cared about.
Justin March can be over confident. You see that when you are reading Tessa's point of view. There are points where he can be a bit irritating but he's learning to be better. He has flaws like the overconfidence thing, drinking, and drugs. He's actually not that bad as he sounds. He can be very sweet if he wants to be. He also makes up for his attitude in the way he investigates the murders. He investigates different churches and Gods by the way. He catches body language and little things people say to figure out if they are lying or doing anything illegal. He and Mae go to a string of churches to figure out if any group is the cause of the murders. The thing about Justin is that he is hardheaded. He doesn't believe in any Gods when he has two Ravens in his head. Yeah, I said Ravens. A God sent them there to guide him. That God needs him and in return he gets a woman who will always protect him. Guess who that is? The only thing I don't like about this book is how Justin has to make the deal with his God. It's really stupid and sexist. The sex scenes were a little bit too graphic as well but it just went along with the story and I didn't think about them too much. It just says a lot about the world we live in. It's highly sexualized and violent. So in that way everything makes complete sense. It's very much a futuristic image of our world today.
Overall: I am one of the people who loved this story and enjoyed the way it unfolded slowly. There was a lot of story to tell and I loved how this world is very much like our own. I can't wait to get my hands on the next book now that we know what God is following him around. It's going to get pretty interesting...
Richelle Mead made the Vampire Academy series which you should know about.
Her website shows you vocabulary for Gameboard of the Gods and other fantastical things.