Gameboard of the Gods by Richelle Mead is an interesting blend of dystopian science fiction and fantasy. Set in a future ravaged by a genetic disease, one part of the world responds by severely curtailing religion and enforcing strict genetic diversity requirements. They emerge from the decline as the most powerful and technologically advanced country. A dystopia is only as good as it’s premise, and I loved the premise here. Devastating biological disaster and a harsh, far-reaching response. The society that sprang up in response is fascinating and very clever.
Mead creates very interesting characters and a fascinating world. She develops the world in an unusual style, throwing the reader into the deep end and only slowly explaining throughout the book the reasons this world is the way it is and the reasons these characters came to be the way they are. It’s different, but I found it to be refreshing and enjoyed the way explanations were slowly meted out.
The book also deals with gods trying to reinsert themselves into a world that has turned their backs on them and the personal and political stakes that go along with that. The mystery that is set to be solved, a series of murders with supernatural overtones, is mostly a device to move the characters from place to place and create a deadline for resolution with consequences for failure. The solving of the mystery does reveal critical information about the state of this world.
This book crosses multiple genres, science fiction, fantasy, and a little romance. I found the world of Gameboard fascinating and the characters very enjoyable, if a little blockheaded sometimes in terms of their personal relationships. While a complete story in and of itself, Gameboard of the Gods also creates a world and characters with a lot left to explore.
This is a great springboard into a new series and Richelle Mead is obviously a very talented writer. I look forward to seeing what happens next. Highly recommended.
I was fortunate to receive an advance copy of this book.