Monday, June 30, 2014

Review: The Immortal Crown (Age of X #2)

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.

The Immortal Crown, by Richelle Mead, is the second novel in the new Age of X series. The RUNA (Republic of United North America) is a new country that encompasses the former United States and Canada. In this post-apocalyptic era, humans are encouraged to mate across racial groups to increase their immune system to the Mephistopheles virus that nearly destroyed the world's human population. Justin and Mae are assigned to a diplomatic delegation into neighboring country, Arcadia (former southern United States). This expedition is also headed by Lucian Darling, Justin's old friend and rival.

In Arcadian society, women are commodities (literally second-class citizens) and religion is intertwined with government. During the trip, Justin discovers powerful forces at work, even as he struggles to come to terms with his own reluctantly acquired deity (Odin). Meanwhile, Mae has another reason for joining this delegation. Although she grudingly poses as Justin's concubine, she has a secret mission of her own: finding the illegitimate niece her family smuggled away years ago. Justin finally learns the truth behind the Arcadian's meeting with Gemman delegation: Arcadia wants to conquer the RUNA and impose their religious deity on the Gemman people.

While Justin and Mae try to escape out of Arcadia without arousing suspicion, 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. The war between elect-special humans gets real when Mae experiences a tragedy that leaves her both vulnerable and scared for her life.

Once again, Mead delivers another excellent novel in her new Age of X series. Dystopian science fiction genre has become more popular thanks to the successes of book-to-film franchises, The Hunger Games and Divergent. The ending will surprise and motivate fans to wait for Book 3. While the first book introduces readers to the world of RUNA, the second book focuses more on the budding relationship between Justin and Mae and their reliance on gods who await their return to the world. I speculate that the third book will focus on the elect-special humans and particularly how Justin, a servitor who refuses to accept a deity, will survive on the gameboard of the gods. This series is so good that I highly recommend it.

Stay tuned for the next novel in the Age of X series in 2015!

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