Scrolling through social media one day, an advert popped up in the ‘sponsored’ column advertising a series of books called ‘The Gender Game’ by Bella Forrest. The description that came with it was ‘For lovers of The Hunger Games’ and as an avid lover of The Hunger Games, I decided to click on it.
The description was of a country (America again) that had been split into two, Matrus and Patrus; Matrus ruled by women and Patrus ruled by men. That was all the description I needed before I decided to buy the book and I am so glad I did because what a damn read!
The Gender Game
The first book in the series introduces us to Violet Bates or ‘Violent Violet’ as she has been nicknamed. After a failed attempt to smuggle her younger brother into Patrus when she was 13, she is arrested and detained and her brother is taken away by the wardens of Matrus. In Matrus, women have more rights than men and boys are subjected to tests at a young age. If they fail them, they are forcefully taken from their families to work in the mines in the North.
It is interesting that we see a world run in a Matriarchal society although it does prove that women can be just as harsh as men, if not harsher. Matrus is described as very strict, especially for men and the opening to the book let’s us see a glimpse into Violet’s world.
Just a little bit of murder first…
Fast forward to a 19 year old Violet and this is where the bulk of the story begins. After murdering two girls (albeit in self-defence), Violet is summoned by Queen Rina of Matrus to attend a secret mission. She must pretend to be the wife of a Patrian/Matrian spy and move to Patrus to gain a hold of a silver egg that has been stolen by Patrus. What is in the egg is a mystery but this egg (EMPHASIS) is very very important to the Matrians. In return, she would not be put to death for the murders and she would be allowed to visit her brother in the mines.
We hear Violet (and in all honesty) describing a world very similar to the one we live in. She describes Patrus as patriarchal where women have a lot less rights than men and only if the husband was a nice person, would he give his wife more freedom. Even then, women could not be seen on the streets alone without their husbands at risk of being detained.
Cage fighting career?
During the book, I felt it did start a little slow. The world that Violet described did not seem as bad as she described and her Matrian spy husband – Lee, was more than welcoming to her. This is when we are introduced to Viggo Croft – a very muscular man with long hair, stubble and hardly spoke a word to anyone. Ok, he sounded hot and I was with Violet on this one.
As the book goes on, Violet describes more of her observations of Patrus dressed as a male in order to be safe and how her Matrian, sarcastic personality has been fitting into Patrian society. Her story soon develops when Lee asks Viggo to start looking after Violet and we can all guess what is going to happen eventually.
It’s the journey there though, the journey. Viggo, a very well trained cage fighter has caught Violet’s attention and she starts taking an interest in cage fighting and Viggo himself. An odd touch to the book but it progresses the story. Although, I did think at one point that the book was going to be about her becoming a cage fighter dressed as a male in an attempt to show that women are just as strong as men. As much as women can be, I am glad the book did not take this route.
Dear God, this is hot.
As Violet (not surprisingly) starts getting closer to Viggo, Lee (as a pungent reminder that she is supposed to be his wife) suggests framing Viggo for a bomb explosion that they will use as a distraction to get back the egg. This leads Violet to Viggo’s cabin in the mountains and I am not joking when I say this is probably the hottest kiss in a book. Fifty Shades of Grey has nothing on it. I felt the same sexual tension as Violet and had to fan myself. WOO!
Then we are all brought back to reality about this damn egg. In my head, I am screaming ‘nah forget it, go after Viggo because Viggo is yum’ but y’know, plot has to keep going. Lee and Violet manage to plant bombs in the lab where the egg is, killing a few people and then heading back to Matrus after a successful mission.
By this point, I must have been on the verge of having a heart attack about 10 times. My palms were sweaty and now and then, I had to put the book down as my adrenaline was going just as much as the characters’ was.
This post may seem gappy as I do not want to reveal absolutely everything, but let’s say that I cheered internally when I read what happened to Lee and Violet. I will also add that the ending was a great cliffhanger for the next book – The Gender Secret.
Now that I have read this, Violet is definitely my favourite book character. I would completely recommend this book to anyone who likes action, drama, a wee bit of romance and a downright tough, ballsy heroine.
If you would like to read the book, you can buy it here at:
(UK users only, however the book is available on Amazon in many other countries).