“Gameboard of the Gods”—A Book Review

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I have to say, I was super excited for Gameboard of the Gods by Richelle Mead to come out, seeing as I am obsessed with her teen Vampire Academy and Bloodlines series. But sadly, the start of her new adult “Age of X” series just didn’t do it for me, and I can’t help but feel disappointed. I pretty much had to make myself finish this book 😦

Set in the future the RUNA is basically the only government sanctioned area, which resides in the Vancouver area. All throughout the United States lays “provinces,” which are basically areas that the government keeps tabs on, but doesn’t necessarily reside in.

Justin March used to be a servitor (government official who goes around making sure religious organizations have a license for their establishment and are abiding by the government’s rules for religious practice). Justin was exiled four years ago for mentioning “the supernatural” in an incident report and was exiled to Panama City. You see, the government is big on trying to quell out any “nonsense” of supernatural happenings and trying to get people to stop believing in any kind of religious entity.

The thing is…Justin has been target by a god that is trying to get him to follow him.

“The truth is, when you banish the gods from the world, they eventually come back—with a vengeance. Humans can’t stay away from gods, and gods can’t stay away from humans. It’s the natural order of things. Our country’s treatment of the divine was too harsh after the Decline. Our people have pushed the gods away for too long, and now the divine is pushing back. That’s why these forces are stirring around us. There’s a vacuum here, and entities we haven’t seen for a very long time are rushing in, seeking followers. Belief is what powers the gods, and they’re picking out their elect to conduct their earthly business.”

Mae is a praetorian—basically a supped up solider for the aid of the government. All praetorians receive an implant when they sign on with the military that amps up their body’s natural defenses (insane amounts of adrenaline kick in during a fight, they no longer need to sleep, the implant quickly recognizes and dissolves any kind of poisonous toxins that enter the body—alcohol included).

Well, Mae got into a fight at the funeral of her deceased lover and ended up hospitalizing another praetorian. Her punishment: Justin March’s new bodyguard.

A string of unexplained murders have been going on in the provinces. A security camera from one of the victims shows a smoke/shadow intruder killing the victim and no forced entry is apparent. Thus, the government calls upon the aid of Justin March (seeing as he kicked ass at his job and seems to believe in supernatural weirdness). The government believes some kind of unorganized religious zealot is responsible for the string of murders, and wants Justin to find the unsanctioned organization, find the murderer, and have the religion stopped.

And so, Mae is to follow Justin around to make sure he doesn’t die while raiding sketchy “underground religious groups”, shutting them down in hopes of drawing out the one that may be responsible for the bizarre murders.

Oh yeah, and Mae has some “dark” goddess following her around, trying to get her to swear fealty. BUT, Mae can’t see it, even though she feels it sometimes when she gets in fights. Justin on the other hand knows that a god is after him because he has two ravens in his head that converse with him, telling him when he is being an idiot, and try their damndest to get him to give in and swear full devotion to their god. And yes, these ravens have names: Horatio and Magnus.

“Gods consolidate their power in places and people. Breaking belief is the biggest way to hurt one. You do that by disbanding their followers. Gods need people to believe in them. Could be as simple as someone like you revoking a license. Or it may take more drastic means. Destroy their place of worship. Take out some of their leaders. Once the followers start to stray, the god weakens. It’s why their all scrambling right now to build their power—and followers.”

So that’s basically the sum of the book. Justin and may going to different places of worship, checking for licenses and looking for the “mysterious murderer” while a whole lot of sexual tension hangs out (because naturally there are reasons Justin and Mae can’t be together).

I kind of felt like this book tried too much to be political and send “a message.” I found it really boring and it took forever for them to actually find out anything useful. I didn’t even find the “futuristic” world remotely intriguing.

Sadly, I can only give this book two out of five stars 😥 I will not be reading the sequel.

 

I do want to add that regardless of how let down I felt by this book, I am very eagerly awaiting the next installment in the Bloodlines series, The Fiery Heart, which is scheduled to hit bookshelves this November!

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“Across the Universe”—A Book Rant

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Across the Universe by Beth Revis is a horrible, and horribly boring, book. Maybe it’s just me (because I’m not much of a sci-fi person), but I just could not get into this story.

The beginning isn’t completely horrible, when they describe cryogenically freezing the main character, Amy, and her parents. They are putting them on a spaceship named Godspeed, where they will remain asleep on the 300 year journey it will take to “the new Earth.” This new planet is called Centauri-Earth.

However, something goes mysteriously and terribly wrong, when fifty years prior to reaching Centauri-Earth, cryo chamber 42 (Amy’s chamber) is unplugged and she wakes up early. Refreezing her would be risking death, therefore, Amy’s only hope at survival is to remain awake and live upon the spaceship.

Elder is being trained to be Godspeed’s new leader by Eldest, the current leader. Elder is a bit rebellious, and not completely content to follow the ways of the ship, like a good little soldier, without asking questions. Elder is also enraptured by Amy. She is the only teenager on Godspeed aside from Elder.

The rules that keep the ship running are completely utilitarian. Every person aboard the ship performs an exact function. They basically are mindless slaves, who farm to provide food for the ship. And they ALL look alike from years of breeding (and inbreeding) aboard the ship—this is also why Elder finds Amy fascinating…she has an actual hair and eye color.

The way the people on the ship live completely repulsed me…it was way worse than in other dystopian tales, such as Matched, The Hunger Games, and The Pledge. They are pretty much cattle. The breeding was the worse…when it becomes a generation’s “season,” they basically put Viagra in the water supply, causing everyone to hump like rabbits ALL OVER THE SHIP, with no regard, whatsoever, to modesty. They literally just mount each other and go at it in the middle of the road.

Of course there is a whole “unveiling” of a deeper plot, but whatever. I was totally disinterested by that point and didn’t even care.

And all of the reviews called the book completely romantic and spicy…completely FALSE. I don’t how I even made it all the way through this book. I give it one out of five stars.

Delirium Trilogy – A Book Review

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 The Delirium Triology (Delirium, Pandemonium, and Requiem) by Lauren Oliver is an excellent dystopian tale fans of The Hunger Games and Matched trilogies are sure to love.

In the future, love is considered a disease, known as amor deliria nervosa. According to the new bible (The Book of Shhh), the “disease” affects your mind so that you cannot think clearly, or make rational decisions about your own well-being.

The solution to keeping America safe from this horrible disease, known as love: The Cure. When citizens turn eighteen, they have a procedure done that will remove their ability to fall in love. This procedure leaves a three-prong mark behind the ear, so that others will know you are cured.

The downside of the cure (though some consider it an upside): not only is your ability to love removed, but other strong emotions disappear as well. The Cureds basically float through life in a zombiefied state. People for the cure argue that the cure allows you to think rationally, eliminating the irrational and haphazard emotions that love brings to the table.

Quoted from a cured person:

“We are not the evil ones. We are reasonable and compassionate. We stand for fairness, structure, and organization.” –Requiem

However, the cure doesn’t always work for everyone. And there are also many people who are part of The Resistance: those who don’t believe in the cure, and want the freedom to choose love. Most of the Uncureds have fled to The Wilds—the areas of the world outside of society’s boarder fences— living like animals, scavenging for food and shelter; but they are free. These people are known as “Invalids.”

Some of the Invalids have rallied together and infiltrated the society, sporting fake procedural marks under their ears. These emissaries, collect information, make fake documents, and plant false information within the cured society, in hopes that The Resistance can take back the control of the world.

Lena’s father died when she was young and the procedure didn’t work on her mother—she went crazy from the deliria and threw herself off a cliff. Thus, since early childhood, Lena has been under the care of her very strict, rule-abiding, aunt. Lena cannot wait to be cured and is counting down the days until her procedure. She is afraid she will go crazy like her mother and wants, more than anything, to be normal.

Then she meets Alex.

Alex shows her his procedural mark under his ear, showing Lena that he is safe to be around: he has been cured. As Lena starts to hang out with Alex, she finds herself drawn to him. He doesn’t act like the other Cureds…he seems to still have that life spark that leaves most people once they have had the procedure. And Alex doesn’t seem to want Lena to get the cure, loving her fire:

“Everyone is asleep. They’ve been asleep for years. You seemed…awake.” Alex is whispering now. He closes his eyes, opens them again. “I’m tired of sleeping.” –Alex

The closer Lena gets to Alex, the more afraid she becomes that she is susceptible to the disease. But she can’t love Alex and he can’t love her, he’s been cured…or has he?

Lena must decide if falling in love is worth the risk: leaving the protection of an unfeeling society behind and fleeing to The Wilds so she can be with the boy she loves.

“I’d rather die on my own terms than live on theirs. I’d rather die loving Alex than live without him.”—Lena

This compelling series will have your heart sprinting as you cheer for this young couple’s future together, and having you yelling out loud at the absurdity of the society’s rules. While the writing is a bit slow and tedious, the overall story totally makes up for the lackluster prose. I give the series four out of five stars!

“Under The Never Sky” – A Sizzling Dystopian Tale

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Imagine a world where the simple act of being outside can be lethal.

The setting = the future. Aether storms have become rampant, lighting up the sky with strange lightening that destroys all in its path.

The Solution = Pods; Dome houses built to be a self-contained way of community. Members of the Pods spread out across the world are known as Dwellers. How do Dwellers keep from going completely insane being sealed inside an indoor habitat? With a Smarteye; a small, flesh-colored, device that fits right over your eye, and places you in the virtual world of your choosing, known as Realms. Go for a stroll along the Thames River in London, meet your friends for gelato outside a café in Italy, go cliff diving off the cliffs of Mohr. And even better…you can feel all sensations while in the Realms, as if they were actually happening.

The downside to this way of living = people weren’t meant to be constrained and as a result, a few quite literally go “stir crazy” and lose their minds, along with all sense of reality. This is where the story begins…a young man (who just so happens to be the Consul’s son) leads Aria (a teenage girl, and a Dweller in the Pod named Reverie) into a restricted area of the Pod and starts a fire, burning the space down, and causing three human lives to be lost.

How does Aria escape death herself? A Savage (a being who lives outside of the Pods) just so happens to be snooping around Reverie, and saves her from the deranged Consul’s son, taking Aria’s Smarteye with him when he leaves. But of course, there are never any consequences for the authoritarian’s children, thus Aria is laden with the blame of the fire.

Aria’s punishment = Exile to The Death Shop (the wastelands outside of the Pods). Aria thinks she is simply being transferred to another Pod to be with her mother, but instead, she is kicked out of the Hover and dropped directly into the borderlands, where the Aether storms run unbridled and have no mercy.
And then there is Peregrine, known by most as Perry. He is a Savage, and the younger brother to the leader of a tribe known as The Tides. Where the Pods are 100% advanced, futuristic technology, The Death Shop is a leap in the opposite direction, resembling the days before such modern conveniences as electricity existed. The outside tribes battle against everything the Aether tries to destroy, hunting and fishing to stockpile goods for harsh winters.

On a hunting trip gone bad, a Dweller Hover appears by the shore and snatches up Perry’s young nephew Talon, and trying (but failing) to retrieve the pilfered Smarteye from Perry. Perry is racked with guilt over his nephew’s kidnapping (not the first kid to go missing among The Tides), and flees his tribe and compound out of shame, determined to rescue Talon.

Told in alternating points of view, Perry and Aria, two refugees, collide during an Aether storm and band together out of necessity—Aria has no knowledge of life outside the Pods and is desperate to find her mother, and Perry needs to get the Smarteye repaired so that Aria can use it to locate his stolen nephew.

On their expedition through the wastelands, Perry begins to learn that his hasty judgment in labeling Dwellers as inept may not apply to all. Aria repeatedly proves herself, determined to make it through The Death Shop and fix her Smarteye to help locate Talon in exchange for an escort to her mother’s Pod. Along the way, she begins to see the ruggedly handsome Perry in a new, less callous, light. And the fact that Perry is Marked as being gifted with a dominant sense, not only as a Seer, but also as a Scire (one who can sense temperaments), makes his and Aria’s journey all the more interesting.

If you loved The Hunger Games and crave the next greatest adventure, look no further. “Under The Never Sky” is a heart pounding, gut clinching, thrill ride, soaked in romantic suspense! READ IT! READ IT NOW!

“She’d survived the outside. She’d survived the Aether and cannibals and wolves. She knew how to love now, and how to let go. Whatever came next, she would survive it, too.”

***

And also, the sequel (“Through The Ever Night”) is just as amazing! I hate it when you get psyched about a series and the sequel comes up flat; it’s the worst kind of dissapointment for a booknerd. Alas, I am pleased to say, this is definitely not one of those times!

“The Jungle hides a girl who cannot die.”

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If you’re a fan of dystopian tales, Jessica Khoury’s Origin is the book for you.

“You are immortal, Pia, and you are perfect.” This is what sixteen-year-old Pia has heard every day of her life.  

Pia is immortal, with impenetrable skin, amplified physical skills, and superior mental strength. She is the first and only of her kind, created by a group of scientists known as the Immortis team. The scientists and Pia reside in a high security, fenced in place called Little Cam that lies within the Amazon jungle. She is the youngest member of the compound and all her life Pia has only known science and her definitive goal of joining the Immortis team. The sole focus of the Immortis team is to use a compound dubbed “Immortis,” made from mixing the nectar of the rare elysia flower (deadly to any who ingest it) with a mysterious catalyst flower (making it safe to inject into humans) to create more “perfect” immortals like Pia. Ultimately, the Immortis team hopes to someday create enough immortals to rule the world and make up the perfect human race. Unfortunately, it takes 5 generations of injecting offspring with the Immortis serum to create an immortal. Pia has never questioned her way of life, wanting to create an immortal boy so as to not be alone forever, watching every mortal around her die.

But then, on her seventeenth birthday, Pia does the unthinkable—she discovers an opening at the bottom of the border fence and crawls underneath it, into the unknown territory of the jungle. Skittish in this unknown expanse, Pia literally smacks into a handsome young man with bronze skin, jet black hair, and the purest blue eyes, named Eio. This is the first boy Pia has ever seen, and she finds herself fascinated by this stranger.

Pia begins to make sneaking out of Little Cam a habitual act, meeting Eio within the depths of the Amazon, and even meeting the Amazonian tribe he belongs to—the Ai’oans. Pia starts to learn that there are other ways of life than that of scientists:

“We…do things a lot differently, yes, but in many ways we are just the same as you…We eat, we sleep, we breathe. We smile when we’re happy, and we cry when we’re sad. When we swim, we must come up for air. When we work all day, our backs get sore. When we get cut, we bleed.”

Eio shows Pia the ways of the jungle, opening her mind to other ways of living, and thinking. Helping her to understand that, just because something is different, doesn’t mean that it is wrong:

“He said that seeing and understanding are two different things. Our eyes show us one side of an object, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t five other sides we can’t see. So why trust your eyes? Why live your whole life thinking that just because you can’t see every side to something, those other sides don’t exist?”

After many visits to the Ai’oan village and spending time with Eio, for the first time in her life, Pia begins to question her way of life, her goals, and everything she’s ever been taught and believed to be the perfect truth:

 “No one should live forever,” I whisper. “Isn’t that how it goes? There must be a balance. No birth without death. No life without tears. What is taken from the world must be given back. No one should live forever, but should give his blood to the river when the time comes so that tomorrow another may live. And so it goes.”

Through her continual escapes into the Amazon, and treks with Eio, Pia slowly unveils horrible truths about her life and existence in Little Cam. Inevitably, she must make some difficult decisions about what is right and what is wrong.

Origin is an enthralling read. I couldn’t devour it quickly enough…and the ending is killer! This dystopian narrative certainly doesn’t disappoint.