Review: Gameboard of the Gods

I’m not sure what genre to place this book. It seems to fit dystopian – science fiction – magical realism – fantasy.

The book is set in the USA after an economic, political and social decline when the country is renamed the RUNA ( Republic of United North America) with the capital Vancouver. The government is fearful of another uprising and monitors religious groups and cults closely to ensure no deviation of thought in people.

People are microchiped, monitored and they are given a number according to their desirable genetic makeup. The higher the number the more perfect a person is. RUNA is technologically advanced while the provinces are backwaters of poor infrastructure, laws and technology.

The protagonist, Justin March is a homeland investigator of banned and unlicensed religious groups who is exiled to Panama because he dared to suggest in his last investigation report that there might be more than a scientific reason for some strange happenings going on within a cult group. The government expects him to be factual and scientific, but Justin has ravens who talk to him in his head. He can’t cope and takes a lot of drugs, alcohol and sex to drown out his reality and survive the primitive existence in lawless futurist Panama.

When suddenly he is recalled mysteriously to the RUNA to investigate a series of inexplicable murders in the high patrician caste ( pure genetic inbreds). The CCTV footage shows closed doors and no sign of a murderer in each case. Only someone with Justin’s skills to find the inexplicable can help.

Justin is paired up with a praetorian Nordic bodyguard for the assignment, Mae Koskinen who harbours secrets and who he falls madly in love with, but she can literally kill him since she has a government issued implant that increases her strength and ferocity. Further her genetic score is an impossible nine which implies she’s had her genes genetically altered before birth, which is illegal.

The protagonists are vulnerable and damaged and interesting for it. This book is a page turner and quite different to other books I’ve read. I recommend it.

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