Ive been a loyal fan of Richelle Mead since The Vampire Academy series and this new series did not let me down. The setting for this series is in the future after religious extremists nearly wipe out all of humanity. Now all religious factions and supernatural claims are monitored and investigated by servitors. One such servitor, Justin March, is sent into exile after failing at his job. Now he is being recalled and Mae Koskinen, an enhanced soldier, is sent to bring him back to help solve a string of ritualistic murders which turns into so much more than the two may be able to handle.
In typical Mead fashion we have very fleshed out characters, even the minor ones. Her characters are not perfect and in fact are extremely flawed. Justin is an alcoholic and a druggy and loves to smoke and Mae has severe control issues. The future world that Mead has created isnt too far out of my comfort zone and I could picture what she wrote. One thing that is obvious is that these Gods need people to worship them and since they arent getting it they are going to act out and make sure someone notices.
From page one I was absorbed into this world and I look forward to the next installment. Since The Gameboard of Gods focused more on the development of the characters I do hope the next one has more of a storyline. Well worth the read and definitely different than anything she has written before and is catered towards adults and for people with an open mind (and dont compare this to her Vampire Academy series).
I got a copy of this book to review through Edelweiss. Thanks to Dutton Adult and Edelweiss for allowing me the chance to read and review this book. I've pretty much love everything else Mead's written; from her YA to her other adult works (excluding her Dark Swan series). That being said I was very excited to read this book. Unfortunately this book was a bit flop for me. Pretty much everything about it was sloppy, confusing, and just not at all well done.
I read about 40% of this book and ended up setting it aside. This is the third time I've sat down to try and read this book and it's just been a struggle for me. I have too many books to read and review to waste time struggling through a book like this.
The story is told from two main viewpoints. The first is that of Mae, she works for RUNA, and is being sent on a mission to Panama as a break from her normal duties. She recently lost her partner and is having trouble coping so RUNA decided a change of pace would be good for her. The second point of view is that of Justin March, a man who has been exiled to Panama for unknown reasons. He is the man Mae is sent to interact with. Together they are supposed to solve a series of murders that are happening in RUNA territory. There is a third POV that of a younger girl whose name I forget.
Let me start by saying that I'm not a big sci-fi fan anyway, and this is definitely a sci-fi type world. So, yeah I guess I should just let you know that. I do love some sci-fi, for example Scalzi writes some wonderfully entertaining stuff. My problem with a lot of sci-fi is that the world throws a ton of unknowns at you and never explains them. You are expected to struggle through and figure out what all this terminology means. This book definitely suffers from that. Mae works for RUNA (at 40% through the book I still dont know what thats an acronym for). There is also a sect called EA (it seemed to be some sort of Asian conglomerate). None of this is explained, its all kind of confusing and to be honest not all that interesting.
The characters are just as difficult to engage with. Mae is some sort of drug-enhanced fighter. Apparently this makes her edgy...she likes to hit things and have sex to take off the edge. Yet she somehow manages to come off as prissy, elitist, and boring.
Justin is incredibly confusing, I finally figured out that all of the characters he talked to were in his head...I think. Pretty much his POV starts out with him talking to all these people in italics and the people dont seem to be people that anyone besides Justin can see. So yeah, very confusing. Justin likes to do addictive things like drugs, drink, smoke, and have sex with a different woman every night. I didnt really like him and didnt really want to know more about him.
I think Justin and Mae are supposed to be love interests to each other but am not sure. They are sleeping together after a drink at the bar and then hating each other for it very early on in the story. They have absolutely no chemistry together and were absolutely flat as a couple.
The most interesting character of the bunch was the young girl that moves from Panama with Justin in order get a good education at a RUNA university...and I cant even remember her name because she just wasnt in the story much.
The story was such a wandering and meandering mess that the whole murder investigation plot wasnt dealt with all that much in the first 40% of the book. Justin and Mae do some investigating and then the story gets weirder with Justin seeing visions of flowers over Maes head. There are also strange people threatening Justin about the Gods and the evil people...but this isnt ever really explained well and just makes the story a bigger and longer mess.
I finally just gave up on this. The story was meandering and a mess, the characters were not at all engaging. I tried, I really did. I have no idea where this story was going or why. I kind of was beginning to think this was some kind of joke to see what Meads readers will tolerate given her past successes.
Overall this was not a good read, I just couldnt finish it. The world is confusing, the characters are numerous and confusing. Worst of all I just didn't find it engaging enough to work through all the confusion and actually care. I just cant recommend this book. Check out Meads Vampire Academy series if you like paranormal YA, thats a good read. Check out her Georgina Kincaid series for a decent adult paranormal read. Skip the Dark Swan series and skip this one.