This past week, I read two books. They were the first two books in Bella Forrest’s The Gender Game trilogy. The first was called The Gender Game and the second was called The Gender Secret.

I read them both on my Kindle, because I purchased them both at a discounted rate through the amazon kindle store, and I have the third one on my kindle, but didn’t have time to read that one as well.

I thought that these books were both pretty okay. If you’re really into things like The Hunger Games and Divergent, then you’ll probably like these ones as well.

They’re set in a futuristic post-nuclear-apocalyptic society (which is, of course, dystopian) in which there are two nations separated by a toxic river. The nations are called Matrus and Patrus, and are operated as a matriarchy and patriarchy, respectively.

In Matrus, women rule; there is a queen and everyone who does anything important is female, men are allowed to have jobs, but they’re mostly menial labor such as janitorial work, and boys are tested at the age of 8 to determine if they are too violent to live in matrus’ society (those deemed too violent are sent away–to the mines in the north???).

In Patrus, men rule; there is a king and all jobs are reserved for men. Women are basically property in this country, not allowed to leave the house without being accompanied by a father, husband, or guardian appointed by their father or husband.

Long story short, it’s a pretty screwed up society.

Below, I will relate the plot of the two books I’ve read, so if you’re interested in reading and don’t want to know what happens, stop now. Because there are going to be some spoilers below.

Anyway, the main character, Violet of Matrus, has spent the last 8 years in correctional facilities. Her legal troubles began when her little brother, Timothy, at 8 years old failed the violence screening and was marked to be sent away. She tried to smuggle him across the river to Patrus to live with her cousin, but the plan goes awry when a couple of “wardens” (police) catch him and she gets in some trouble and then while she’s in a correctional facility because of this, she gets in a fight with someone who she ends up killing. With a fork. (Scary stuff, if you think too much about it) She’s convicted of womanslaughter and remains in facilities for 8 years, until she kills another woman in a fight, this time with removable orthodontic braces (??!?). Upon discovery of her second act of womanslaughter, the government decides that she is the perfect person to perform a secret mission into Patrus to steal back an egg that belonged to Matrus but had been taken by a spy. Her only alternative is the death penalty, so she goes through with it.

In order for the secret mission to happen, she must marry and move to Patrus and then infiltrate their largest lab. She ends up doing this, and along the way she befriends and ultimately falls in love with a Patrian warden (trouble). And then she and her husband steal the egg and escape to Matrus and live happily ever after, right? Nope. Then there wouldn’t be any sequels. Her husband betrays Matrus (in addition to his betrayal of Patrus)  by killing the queen and her advisor and then Vioet accidentally kills HIM (this time by knocking him off of a flying motorcycle) and then has to run away because now everyone is going to think she’s betrayed the nation & obviously they need someone to punish for the crimes her husband committed and since he’s dead, she’s the best option. So she runs away into the toxic forest called “The Green.”

In book 2, The Gender Secret, she almost dies like 12 times because she has no idea how to handle herself in the toxic forest, but luckily her warden friend from Patrus comes and finds her (he’s there to arrest her) and her former instructor and friend from Matrus also comes to find her (also supposed to arrest her) and they almost die more. In the end, they don’t die and Violet discovers the truth about the boys deemed to violent for Matrus’ society (spoilers: they’re NOT sent to the mines in the North which probably don’t even exist), rescues her brother, and kills a couple of princesses (the late queen’s 3rd and 4th daughters, who are twins and were also sent to arrest her) for good measure. At the end of the book, she discovers that there is a secret third faction, run by none other than her late husband’s (the one she accidentally knocked off of a flying motorcycle) mother who everyone thought was dead.

So anyway, I gave both of these a 4/5 on goodreads, because if you go in expecting a typical dystopian trilogy with a heroine who isn’t universally likeable (Katniss Everdeen, Tris Pryor, and now Violet Bates), it will meet that expectation. I also think the series has some great metaphorical value, which is nice. If you’re not into dystopian YA fiction, however, this is not for you. It’s also got a lot of really cool futuristic sciencey stuff which I’m always a fan of. I also went in with the expectation that it would be exactly what it was, so I wasn’t disappointed by it. Not to mention that I read the first one in like 2 days, which means it wasn’t that unbearable (something that I didn’t like at least a little bit would have taken way longer or I would have just quit it); the second one was more exciting than the first one, but not better. Also, I feel like the title The Gender Game is misleading, because it’s not about a game (like, the Hunger Games is actually about a “game” of sorts, this is just a weird world with even bigger gender divides than the real one and it’s not a game at all). Regardless, I’m looking forward to reading the third, and will probably do so this week, along with the book I decided ahead of time to read this week, The Human Age by Diane Ackerman. I’ll definitely post about it.

The Fierce Feminist