My book reviews are written as a discussion of a book, and not as an advertisement. Please be aware that there may be information that some would consider spoilers. Continue on at your own risk!
After blowing through 41 books in the first half of the year, it has taken me a few weeks to get through my last two books. Tarnished and Torn was just bad. And just in case you don’t do the jump to read the review of this book, I will say Gameboard of the Gods was fantastic (please please please god of books make the sequel just as good!). I have been super busy preparing to downsize, sell my house and move, and still found time to pick up this book. Here is what I thought….
I’m changing the order of the review a little bit so that everything flows properly. In this future world, there was a virus, called Cain, that “tended to attack those of homogeneous backgrounds”. In response to The Decline, racial mixture is encouraged. In addition it is determined that “Belief in fictitious entities is a threat to the fabric of society and must be assessed and regulated for the well-being of all citizens”.
In this world there are servitors who go out and check out small religious groups and if they don’t strictly operate within the law, they are shut down. I enjoyed the updated technology (the implants, ‘ego’- which is a type of phone, etc.)
Gemma- “Gemma mundi. The jewel of the world. The motto that had eventually given name to its citizens, the Gemmans.”
RUNA- “Republic of United North America”
Provincial- all things non-Gemman
Plebeian – mixed heritage (normally with tanned skin and dark hair and eyes)
Patrician (castal)- narrower breeding pool.
Location Score: 5/5
Justin, a servitor, ends up having an unexplainable experience (and officially reporting it) is banned to Panama (a ‘province’ without the comforts of the modern world). Mae, a praetorian (a solider with an implant) is assigned as his security detail when he is requested to return to look into mysterious murders.
Basically, the gods are not happy about being banished and start to gather followers, because they draw strength from their followers (same concept as American Gods). Mae has a dark goddess trying to control her, and Justin has a god who wants to claim him (and has ‘gifted’ him with two ravens in his mind). Mae breaks her link, but Justin seems to (much to his chagrin) get in deeper.
Plot Score: 4/5
Characters and Relationships
Justin is a play boy with a heart of gold
Mae is a hardened solider with a heart of gold
Tessa is an immigrant with a heart of gold (see the pattern?)
Characters Score: 4/5
Life Lessons (fka Bigger Meaning)
I thought there was a lot of thought provoking ideas in this book (most of which appealed to me as a bi-racial atheist!). I will say I wasn’t sure where the book was going, and was really hoping it was going to end with some statement that the Christian God exists.
-Racial diversity – cultures that were racially diverse were able to weather the Decline
-danger of religion- and even though religion is limited, people found ways to find gods (the government, etc.)
Bigger Meaning Score: 3/5
Defining Quote: “We’re pieces on a gameboard…and some of us are more powerful than others. You. Me. Her. We’re the ones the gods want. We’re the ones they’re fighting over”
Even though it took me a while to read it, every time I picked it up, I enjoyed it. There were beautiful nuances to the characters that caused you to read every word. You couldn’t skip much and still catch all the things going on.
Style Score: 4/5
-Is this YA or not? I can’t tell…and it’s so good it doesn’t matter
– I love a good re-use of mythology and I loved the ending when you realize The Morrigan and Odin were involved (some more astute readers probably knew as soon as the ravens are mentioned)
-This would be a great book club book
Total Score and Recommendation
20/25 – I am eagerly anticipating the next book…