Review: Gameboard of the Gods (Age of X #1) by Richelle Mead


Rating: **** / 4 out of 5
Genres: Adult, Science Fiction, Paranormal, Mystery, Thriller
Expected publication:  June 4, 2013 by Dutton Adult
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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.





I’ll be completely honest here. I totally didn’t know what to expect from Gameboard of the Gods, which is kinda bizarre considering Richelle Mead is kind of already a household name with her Vampire Academy and Bloodlines series. I bought her first book sometime ago and read the first 10 pages and was truthfully not impressed; the writing felt a bit amateur, bland, and empty, making me a bit less eager to read something from her this time around. But Vampire Academy was written so many years ago, and considering the fact that it has been ages since then, her writing must have become better.

And it did. Significantly so. If Vampire Academy didn’t reach out to me in the first ten pages, Gameboard of the Gods did, and every time I think of this gem of a book, all I can think of is just how awesome and suspenseful it was. If you thought her previous series were good, THIS is BETTER.


The world building here is at its finest. It’s big, it’s ambitious, it’s incredibly structured and imaginative, and it’s not even fantasy at all – far from it! Imagine a Greek-Roman society but make it a bit futuristic, as well as ancient mythological gods and goddesses from different cultures. I loved how it incorporated such religious deities and themes while also staying true to its futuristic utopian setting (yes, it’s not a dystopian!). I also loved how Mead portrayed a supposedly pagan community that thrives on idealistic and radical ideas, while also introducing to us a variety of gods, goddesses, and supernatural phenomena. Like, how can the two mix, right?! That’s basically a juxtaposition right there, but she does it right and does it well. I’m not going to venture too much about it, because saying so might give something away about the storyline, but I can instead assure you that the author has created an absolutely thrilling and engaging world you won’t get enough of. Add gods and goddesses to that mix, fanatic cults, superhuman folks, AND a radical government, you got yourself a unique and exciting formula there, my friend!


Don’t get me wrong, I loved the characters. The cast all had distinguishable personalities, had distinct voices, were smart, feisty, and level-headed, knew what they wanted and how to get it, and over-all were pretty well-rounded. But even though they were likeable most of the times, they did some actions that really infuriated me, as in, I actually would throw them out the window if I could. These times were mostly when they acted like an asshole and a bitch, though… like, there was this one instance that some characters withheld information that could’ve helped the case, and the excuse, “I forgot”, and “I didn’t think it was important!” made me want to go HULK, SMASH!! on them.

But then again, after giving it much thought, it made me realize that these reactions of mine were only because of Mead’s spectacular way of making me more involved and engaged with the character, to the point that I would feel for them. They do something great, I feel happy. They do something questionable, I feel angry because as a reader I have more understanding with regards to the context/situation, and I freaking know what they did wasn’t healthy. You have to applaud Mead for that… it’s not often I get angry at characters and find such a response being a good thing!


As I’ve gushed earlier, Mead has significantly improved her writing style here. Yes, I know; I only have 10 pages of Vampire Academy for comparison, but damn, the difference was just astounding! Given that the plot is darker and sinister, she was able to write it in a way that’s consistent to the premise – the narration really does give you the impression that something malicious and evil is or will be happening, while also keeping you on your toes and at the edges of your seats. It is suspenseful and enchanting, and the prose is hard to resist, as Mead has showcased here her remarkable skill of “showing, not telling” style. Even though the narration is set in third person with multiple POVs, it was still able to successfully give me a clear view of the surroundings, while also allowing me into the thoughts of the characters. You will get to know them and love every minute of it.

The relationships among the characters were also brilliantly written. Even though something ridiculous happened in the beginning that I really couldn’t appreciate, it redeems itself when the characters start from square one, finding themselves entangled unwillingly in a mystery whodunit story. Along the way they will banter with each other, argue with each other, discuss theories and logistics together, and protect one another and you will find all of these in the end absolutely endearing. It was definitely a meaningful journey to me seeing them grow, learn more about themselves, and find each other’s worth.


Altogether, this is a remarkable sci-fi, PR, mystery read. It’s an Adult book that would rile up your imagination and excite your nerves as you charge head-on to a fascinating world Mead has created. Since there’re a lot of themes that I personally deem sensitive to certain audiences (sex, drugs, alcohol, the works), I don’t recommend this for those 15 below, but if you’re mentally and emotionally mature for it, then go ahead!

All I can say is Gameboard of the Gods is Richelle Mead’s best yet.

Final verdict: 4.5 stars

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A 21 years old Filipina who loves books, games, languages, and most especially, food. Secretly wishes to be an astronaut so she can explore the stars. Has a love-hate relationship with Philippine politics. To get in her good graces, offer her Foie Gras, Or shrimp. Or a JRPG. A YA sci-fi book works, too. You can follow her on twitter here: @kawaiileena


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  1. says

    Oh God, 4.5 stars? Darn it, I’m going to have to read it. Not related but the title reminds me of the movie Cabin in the Wood, did you see it? It was all a gameboard of the gods at the end.

    Vlogging, eh? Hmmm…nicely done.

    • FayeFaye says

      Hi, Lectus! Yes, 4.5 stars! I loved this one to bits and it made me really like Richelle Mead. I don’t think I’ve seen Cabin in the Wood, but I’ll definitely check it out! Thank you!

    • FayeFaye says

      I read this one without any knowledge of Mead’s writing prowess, so I was greatly impressed. It only made me want to read her other books! Can’t wait for you to read it!

  2. [email protected] Lost In Wonderland says

    I’m a huge fan of Richelle Mead! I’ve read most of her books (Vampire Academy, Bloodlines and her ‘adult’ succubus series ) and enjoyed them all, but I was a bit weary about this new series. But it appears as though she’s done it again. I can’t wait to read this now. Great Review!

    • FayeFaye says

      It may be a bit overwhelming at first, the worldbuilding that is. I’ve read recent reviews for this one and a lot of them complained about it, but I assure it will get better :D She made me a fan of hers because of this one!

  3. Karen H in NC says

    The author and genre are both new-to-me. I’m still not totally sold on it. Will have to think about it.

    • FayeFaye says

      If you’re into YA, you might like her earlier books, but this one is more dark and mature, so definitely for adults. It’s even readable for those who want to slowly transition to the adult demographic. Let me know if you do decide to read this!

    • FayeFaye says

      Thank you so much! This one is more… hmmm, mythological than Paranormal? But I guess it kinda works, a cross between the two!

  4. Sundeep says

    Oh wooww 4.5 stars, I haven’t read her Vampire Academy books went straight to the Bloodlines series, and I love it so for you to say that this book is the best yet I will definitely bump it up on my TBR list

    • FayeFaye says

      YES, PLEASE!!! I mean, I haven’t read the others yet, but damn this one was sooo good. I’ll read her first books for sure, though, even though her writing there may not be as good. It’s still Richelle Mead :D

  5. jennifer k says

    OMG I want to read this book so badly. I am a huge Richelle Mead fan. I also am not sure what to expect from Gameboard of the Gods. I really hope I love it.

    Oh and for anyone who hasn’t read the Vampire Academy and Bloodlines series I would highly recommend them. My favorites!

    • FayeFaye says

      You’re in luck! It’s out today! :D Trust me, it’s a really good read, especially if you’re already a fan of the author! :D Will definitely read VA – I already bought the first book of that series but just haven’t gotten around to reading it haha

  6. Ashfa Anwer says

    Eeeep, great review, I really wasn’t planning on reading this one but not now. I’ll be mad to let this one go!

  7. says

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