A digital copy was provided from the publisher in exchange for a honest review.
NOTE: Gameboard of the Gods is an adult title so contains some mature content.
I read this with Bibliopunkk and Scott Reads It, be sure to check out their reviews to see if we agreed. I am so happy I read this with blogger friends because otherwise I might have bailed. Plus, it is always so much fun to compare notes as you read.
Summary (via 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.
As stated above, Gameboard of the Gods had me close to giving up at one point. Since I typically read young adult I wasn’t used to the slow build up and times where I felt lost, so it took me midway to really get into the rhythm. I am so happy I stuck with it because it would have been a mistake to have given up.
The slower pacing aside, the story was interesting and complex. It took ample time (and pages) for Mead to build her world and with such complexities there were instances of info dumping that just confused me. Overload of information occurred most often with descriptions of the different castes, jobs, and technology. My mind ached trying to keep all of this straight while trying to get to know the characters and figure out what was happening. Once past the midpoint the action picked up and I started to see where Mead had been going with all the loose ends. I’m confident that the majority of world building occurred in this first book so the next should be easier to become absorbed in.
As for genre, I couldn’t really say which Gameboard falls under. It has a lot of science fiction elements mixed in with mythology. It had elements that actually reminded me of Neil Gaiman (American Gods).
At first I really didn’t like Justin. He seemed egotistical, sleazy and all around jerk. He was supposed to be the top of his field and yet for the first bit of the book I felt that Mead told us about his abilities but never showed them. This changed midway and my like and respect for him grew. I started to get a fuller understanding of the mechanisms he used to defend himself and he became well rounded.
I immediately liked Mae’s character. She is hard edged, strict and a type A personality. This could be perceived as boring but somehow Mead accomplished making a very complex and interesting character. I loved the tidbits of insecurity and emotion Mae exhibited on occasion.
A third character, Tessa, was thrown in though she didn’t have as large a role as Justin and Mae. I wasn’t blow away with her story though I know that she will become more intriguing as the series progresses.
Mead did a good job in building up a cast of secondary characters that felt real and populated her world well. I found myself fond of many of them and wonder how important they will be later in the series.
Gameboard of the Gods was slow to pull me in but once it did I was hooked. I will check out the following in the series and now want to read the Vampire Academy series even more–yes, I’ve not read them yet!
Thank you Dutton for the opportunity to read and review Gameboard of the Gods prior to its release.
Gameboard of the Gods will be available June 4, 2013