The #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Vampire Academy and Bloodline series returns with the second installment in her acclaimed Age of X series.
Gameboard of the Gods introduced religious investigator Justin March and Mae Koskinen, the beautiful supersoldier assigned to protect him. Together they have been charged with investigating reports of the supernatural and the return of the gods, both inside the Republic of United North America and out. With this highly classified knowledge comes a shocking revelation: Not only are the gods vying for human control, but the elect—special humans marked by the divine—are turning against one another in bloody fashion.
Their mission takes a new twist when they are assigned to a diplomatic delegation headed by Lucian Darling, Justin’s old friend and rival, going into Arcadia, the RUNA’s dangerous neighboring country. Here, in a society where women are commodities and religion is intertwined with government, Justin discovers powerful forces at work, even as he struggles to come to terms with his own reluctantly acquired deity.
Meanwhile, Mae—grudgingly posing as Justin’s concubine—has a secret mission of her own: finding the illegitimate niece her family smuggled away years ago. But with Justin and Mae resisting the resurgence of the gods in Arcadia, a reporter’s connection with someone close to Justin back home threatens to expose their mission—and with it the divine forces the government is determined to keep secret.Hardcover, 432 pagesExpected publication: May 29th 2014 by Dutton Adult
Source: Publisher in Exchange for an honest review.
Four Stars: A complex and entertaining UF series that continues to excel.
Justin and Mae are on yet another mission to determine whether a person claiming to have religious supernatural powers is the real deal or a fraud. Things take a drastic turn when Justin and Mae are attacked by giant scarab beetles. Something paranormal is definitely afoot. Once the pair arrive back in RUNA, they are presented with a diplomatic assignment to visit their border country of Arcadia. Justin refuses, but Mae begs him to reconsider because she had a strange vision that revealed her lost niece was in Arcadia. Now Mae and Justin are headed into dangerous territory with no idea of what they will uncover. Can Mae and Justin survive their trip to Arcadia?
What I Liked:
- As always, I continue to be impressed with Ms. Mead's amazing story telling abilities. I love her YA series Vampire Academy and Bloodlines. I am in awe at how she manages to slowly build intricate plot lines and then skillfully weave them together. Things that seem unrelated, manage to work their way into the overall storyline. Her stories do take a bit of time to build before they take off, but they are always worth the time invested. Ms. Mead is indeed a talented author, one you need to be reading. If you are hunt for a smart, complex and intricate adult series, I would highly recommend The Age of X series.
- I loved the character growth of both Mae and Justin. Justin in Gameboard of the Games wasn't exactly the most likable male lead. He was a bit of a man whore, selfish and inconsiderate. Once he meets Mae, he begins to change, and by the end of the first book he smoothed out into a character I liked. This time around, I had no problems with Justin, he has come along way. He is considerate, smart, and he has given up his man whoring. Mae too has changed. She isn't as hot headed and she is learning to open her mind to the improbable. She is more emotional and compassionate since she isn't serving in the military. I liked seeing her reach out to help the women kept in horrible conditions in Arcadia, even if meant endangering herself. Needless to say, I like both of these characters a great deal, and my only issue with them now is they need to get over their hurdles and give into their desires!
- The world building is excellent. Ms. Mead goes to great lengths to create a futuristic society where the world's population was ravaged by a plague. The former U.S. is divided. The northern/western portion into Canada is known as the RUNA or the Republic of United North America. In the RUNA, citizens live in a modern society centered on all forms of media. The citizens have many freedoms, except for religious freedom. RUNA does not believe in religion or gods, and the government goes to great lengths to stamp out religious frauds. The bordering region of Arcadia is centered in the Old South of the U.S. This is a country that shuns modern inventions, and they keep women subservient, even forcing them to cloister themselves in heavy veils. Very much reminiscent of some of the countries in the Middle East. This is a dangerous country for women, especially for someone like Mae. Arcadia does believe in religion, to the point where it is harmful. It takes awhile to grasp the world, but once you have a handle on everything, it is impressive once you see Ms. Mead's skill. You have to be patient with this one, but it is well worth the time invested.
- In this book, the religious themes are pushing further and further into the storyline. In the first book, Justin was hesitant to believe in any type of god, but now days, he has become a believer. Gods and paranormal happenings are more prevalent in this book, and I love seeing the different gods creeping into the story. The gods have lost favor since the citizens of RUNA abandoned them, and now they are picking mortals to further their agendas and find their way back into society, much like a giant gameboard. Which god will use which human and what are their motives? It is all a big mystery, but I am anxious to see where it goes.
- I appreciate that the main story lines were resolved by the end, no drastic cliffhangers, however, Ms. Mead lays down a few stunning revelations right at the end that left me eager to get my hands on the next book.
And The Not So Much:
- This is a series that requires patience. There is a great deal of information to absorb and both books are a bit slow going in the beginning. Once you have the information under your belt, the story begins to take hold and move in exciting directions. It took me a bit of time to settle into this one as I struggled to recall all the details from the first book. Bottom line, this is a series that you need to invest some time and focus on to grasp what is going on. This isn't a light, easy breezy read. Thankfully, Ms. Mead provides a handy glossary at the end for quick reference. If you aren't the type that likes complex reads, this isn't a series for you.
- The romance is still not happening and it is frustrating. Ms. Mead is known for making her couples endure torturous circumstances before coming together. Mae and Justin have the attraction and the chemistry, but the romance is still a no go. I know once it hits its stride, it will be worth the wait, so I am fine with the way things are moving. For those of you who like a romance in your reads, you will be disappointed that things are not happening as of yet. However, consider this is a UF series, so romance isn't going to be the main focus.
- This book utilizes three view points: Mae, Justin and Tessa. I am completely absorbed and invested in Mae and Justin's story lines, but once again, I struggled with Tessa's point of view. She is Justin's young ward, and these days she is going to school in RUNA and learning to navigate the society. I was not interested in her storyline, and found my attention wandering when the plot shifted to her. By the end, her part was woven into the main thread, but I still struggle with her view point, it just isn't as engaging.
The Immortal Crown is a solid sequel that surpasses its predecessor. Ms. Mead excels at masterful storytelling and world building. I am in awe at the complexity of her story, and I cannot wait to see how things will develop. This is a series, though, that requires time and patience. If you are looking for a smart, interesting and exciting UF series, this is definitely a series to try. I am a fan!
I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and I was not compensated for this review.
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