The Gender Game Series by Bella Forrest
Book Synopsis: For fans of The Hunger Games and Divergent comes a story like no other…
A toxic river divides nineteen-year-old Violet Bates’s world by gender. Women rule the East. Men rule the West.
Welcome to the lands of Matrus and Patrus.
Ever since the disappearance of her beloved younger brother, Violet’s life has been consumed by an anger she struggles to control. Already a prisoner to her own nation, now she has been sentenced to death for her crimes.
But one decision could save her life.
To enter the kingdom of Patrus, where men rule and women submit. Everything about the patriarchy is dangerous for a rebellious girl like Violet. She cannot break the rules if she wishes to stay alive. But abiding by rules has never been Violet’s strong suit. When she’s thrust into more danger than she could have ever predicted, Violet is forced to sacrifice many things in the forbidden kingdom … including forbidden love.
In a world divided by gender, only the strongest survive…
What a read! For those who don’t know, there are 7 books in this series. Yes, you read right, 7!
I enjoyed the first book quite a lot in the sense of action. It was interesting, unique and humorous. Twists and turns were presented with every new chapter. Forrest takes a basic plot and well-known story line to new depths with this novel, managing to surprise even me (who has read basically all sci-fi YA books ever created) with it’s original take on an infiltration of enemy territory. The plot moves quite fast in the beginning in order to get the story going, but some inclusions such as training in The Green and introducing the character of Josefine weren’t necessary. Forrest ultimately only includes these factors to save having to explain what they are later when the book grows denser in description, but I found reading about this in the introduction quickly became boring after only a few pages.
The setting is something I was really interested in as the book progressed. Forrest’s imagination concerning the dynamics of the two worlds colliding as one for Violet really hit the nail on the head for me. There are quite a few different landscapes included with new surprises in each that had me on the edge of my seat whenever they were mentioned.
The actual explanation on the history behind Matrus and Patrus and how each ‘country’ works was well done. Having this insight really helped understand the personalities of the two genders and why both of them were unable to work in harmony. I’m aware that a lot of the YA audience this book was broadcast to were deeply disappointed due to what they are claiming as ‘false advertising’. Due to the book’s title and description, readers were under the impression that this novel would be heavily talking about society’s downfalls in today’s world concerning sexuality and gender roles, however the story has nothing to do with either topic. The whole ‘gender game’ aspect of this series is really just for background on the events that take place and Violet never encounters anyone who isn’t heterosexual. Violet actually gives a description on how the two genders live together in each country, exclaiming that a wife of a Patrus male had no control over herself and that a husband/male in the Matrus society weren’t held to the same standard as the Matrus females. With the description proclaiming about a ‘forbidden love’, it’s easy to see where the mix-up was, but be aware that this series does NOT tackle any controversial issues.
Now on to characters!
The portrayal of Violet as our main protagonist was disappointing at best. I found her quite bland, missing any sort of humour or likeable qualities needed to keep the story moving forward. Mostly, I found her actions relied heavily on what the other characters were doing and saying at the beginning which, for me, meant that the first person perspective was unneeded and wasted. As always, she wasn’t completely useless as everything in the book does revolve around her, but up until the introduction of Viggo *swoon*, I just wanted Violet gone. Due to the whole ‘I’m a Matrus female, forever against Patrus males’, I thought that she would be a lot feistier with Lee *rolls eyes*, but she wasn’t. She only started showing her kick-ass coolness when my favourite warden was introduced so by the end of the book, she was much more likeable as a character.
Viggo, however, is the light of my life. Him and Violet quickly became a favourite OTP of mine. Without spoiling, Viggo is a high-ranked Patrus warden (police basically) who at first seems like the stereotypical dominating, emotionless Patrus male Violet hates, but all that changes. He’s a fantastic character, provides all the feels and really ramps up the action. I would 100% recommend holding out for him in this series.
So that’s just the first book…but the overall series isn’t something I overly loved.
By the third book, the story gets really repetitive, save some suspenseful parts that had me like:
It’s overall a decent series, but not one that’s ranked high on my ‘read again’ list. If you are fans of Hunger Games/Divergent, you will probably enjoy the first few books, but tire of it eventually.
Let me know your thoughts below 🙂