Gameboard of the Gods – Richelle Mead
This is the first book in Richelle Meads “Age of X” series. Richelle is mostly known for her YA series The Vampire Academy but has also written The Bloodline books and the steamier “Succubus-series”. All of these are Urban Fantasy stories. Her latest book, Gameboard of the Gods is sort of dystopian with some fantasy in the mix. It is set in a future where the world has gone through The Decline. A virus swept the world taking out nearly half the population. The virus also caused reproductive damage, passing along a mutation that resulted in poor fertility, asthma and damaged skin and hair. Most children are made in petri dishes and genetic engineering is not uncommon.
The world was almost destroyed by religious extremists, the gods were banished and all religion is highly regulated. That was Justin Marchs job. As a servitor his job was to investigate religious groups and supernatural claims. Until the day four years ago when he was exiled. Mae is a praetorian, a member of the most elite part of the military. Following the death of her lover Mae is assigned as Justin´s bodyguard as they investigate a string of mysterious murders.
I was hooked from the first page. Intrigued by the story and where it would lead and interested in the main characters, most notably Mae and Justin. Mead manages to perfectly balance multiple plot lines without loosing momentum and managing to keep the reader invested. The characters were real, genuine people who mess up, change their minds, feel, love and act like real people do. We know a bit about them and what makes them tick right from the start and we get to see them evolve through the story.
The plotline was very interesting and made room for some intriguing questions about faith. What happens when banished gods are coming back with a vengeance and are making themselves known to the very people who have ordered to control believers. There are some interesting subplots as well; for example genetic engineering and being different. Add a mystery and just a touch of romance and it makes for a very good story.
Will I read the next book? Definitely!
This review was done from an advance copy through NetGalley