In a futuristic world nearly destroyed by religious extremists/geneticists, Justin March lives in exile after failing in his job as an investigator of religious groups and supernatural claims. But Justin is given a second chance when Mae Koskinen comes to bring him back to the Republic of United North America (RUNA). Raised in an aristocratic caste, Mae is now a member of the military’s most elite and terrifying tier, a soldier with enhanced reflexes and skills.
When Justin and Mae are assigned to work together to solve a string of ritualistic murders, they soon realize that their discoveries have exposed them to terrible danger. As their investigation races forward, unknown enemies and powers greater than they can imagine are gathering in the shadows, ready to reclaim the world in which humans are merely game pieces on their board.
THE NOVEL IDEA:
The story offers a supercharged start to an imaginative new series with gods – Norse, Greek, Roman, you name it – and humans in a post-dystopian world filled with strange technology and a new rising civilisation complete with seedy provinces at the edge of empire…
The basics of this big concept universe are introduced in slow increments in an attempt to create suspense and hold the reader’s interest. However key terms like RUNA go unexplained for huge chunks of the book, leading to frustration on the part of the reader.
The storyline is ‘mission orientated’ which drives the story forwards at a good pace as the main characters become involved in tracking down a murderer. I liked that there were many faceted layers to this book, lots of strings waiting to be pulled. The ending itself introduced many new questions for our heroes – about the Praetorians for example, and the future role of SCI.
Of the three main characters, I found Tessa – the last to be introduced – the most relatable: when we first meet Mae she is beating up another woman at a funeral; Justin is drinking and gambling and while Adrian in Richelle Mead’s VA series was a sexy mess, Justin’s simply an addict.
There’s clearly a ‘doomed’ romance plot line on the horizon for Mae and Justin, giving the reader something to route for and agonise over, but I didn’t find their chemistry convincing. (Their lax attitude throughout the novel towards sex with other people was the nail in coffin.)
This is a complex plotted, action/fantasy read, with well written characters and plenty of meaty topics to intrigue.
READ TIME: a whole week.
I was given this book to review by Penguin (via netgalley), in exchange for a blunt review.