Gameboard of the Gods Book Poster Image

Gameboard of the Gods



Dystopian thriller for adults OK for mature teens.

What parents need to know

Educational value

Focuses on how religious extremism and racism causes problems, destruction, societal breakdowns, and division in the world.

Positive messages

Emphasizes trust in yourself and others, the importance of friendship and family, the virtue of loyalty, and the cost of betrayal.

Positive role models

Justin March is a drug addict, and Mae is cold, detached, and robotic.


Hand-to-hand combat, fighting, and murder.


Some scenes of graphic sexual situations between consenting adults, but not many.


"Ass," "s--t," "goddamnit," "f--k," "hell," "prick," and "bastard."

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Adults, including the main characters, drink, smoke, and take drugs.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Gameboard of the Gods is the first book in the Age of X series, and the first book for adults by Richelle Mead, bestselling author of the Vampire Academy and Bloodlines young adult fantasy series. It's a dystopian thriller with a few graphic sexual situations, strong language ("ass," "s--t," "goddamnit," "f--k," "hell," "prick," "bastard"), and violence (hand-to-hand combat and murder) that's written for adults, but older teens might enjoy it. The story involves ritualistic murders and a serial killer, and includes discussions of politics, religious extremism, the military, and conspiracies. The characters are mainly adult, but there's a 16-year-old secondary character. Adults, including the main characters, drink, smoke, and take drugs. 

Kids say

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What's the story?

GAMEBOARD OF THE GODS takes place in a futuristic United States that was destroyed by religious extremists. The United States is now called RUNA (Republic of United North America). Mae Koskinen works for the government and is asked to locate Dr. Justin March, who's living outside RUNA in Panama. But Mae also has a mission: She must work with Justin to solve a string of murders related to religious extremism and segregation. Mae is a strong fighter -- tough and no-nonsense. But when she encounters Justin, she immediately falls for him despite the two ravens that talk inside his head, his drug addiction, and his womanizing ways.

Is it any good?


Although the story is unique and will appeal to fans of dystopian and post-apocalyptic literature, it might start to bore some readers, especially teens.

Gameboard of the Gods is Richelle Mead's first adult novel. She's has garnered many teen fans through her YA series Vampire Academy and Bloodlines. But Gameboard of the Gods is very different from those books. It's definitely for adults, but older teens may gravitate toward it because they've read the YA series. Gameboard of the Gods features strong language, sex, violence, drug use, as well as heavier and more mature themes than those found in Mead's YA books.

The two main characters use each other for their own means and often clash and fall into lust throughout the story. Justin is likable, although somewhat of rake. Mae is cold and calculating. The most interesting character is Tessa, a teen who works alongside Justin. Mead does a good job with world-building. There is some heavy info dumping and a military-type setting, so all in all, the book might appeal more to men and older teen boys than females.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about Richelle Mead's YA books. How are they similar to or different from Gameboard of the Gods?

  • What do you think of Richelle Mead's foray into science fiction? Is it as compelling as her fantasy fiction?

  • What do you think about the supernatural aspects of the novel, including the role gods play in people's lives?

Book details

Author:Richelle Mead
Genre:Science Fiction
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:Dutton Books
Publication date:June 4, 2013
Number of pages:464
Available on:Nook, Hardback, iBooks, Kindle

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Adult Written bySwim_Book_freak July 25, 2014
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex


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