I have been in a severe reading slump lately. I just could not find any books that really held my attention or made me want to put everything aside so that I could consume them. That is until a great friend told me about Bella Forrest’s Gender Game Series. To say that I was obsessed with this series would not be an understatement.
Talk about getting out of my reading slump! I began the first (of 7) books in the series and I could not put it down. I even stopped reading/listening to all other books and concentrated only on these. I absolutely LOVE these books! I love the characters and the rich detail of who they are and who they become.
I have always loved dystopian novels and to me this series is a new twist on the genre, bringing gender to the forefront as the dividing factor of two different nations. I considered writing a review for each of the 7 books in the series, but these books build so much on each other that I would have to post way too many spoilers to do 7 reviews. Instead, I decided to do a series review and a brief synopsis of each book. Please note that by reading all the notes you will be getting some spoilers, but not the big stuff…
I absolutely LOVE these books! I love the characters and the rich detail of who they are and who they grow to become. Yes, there are 7 books. Yes, they seem very long (all are over 400 pages). But they are very easy to read and once I started, I could not put them down! There were a couple (4 and 5) that were somewhat gruesome (I’m ok with that) and a very long sequence in book 6 for carrying out one of their plans, again I’m ok with that.
These characters actually think for themselves. The “good guys” do not always see eye-to-eye, (what group of people living in chaos would?) but they work out their issues. The character development is very thorough but does not bog down the story. There are quite a few characters that I liked at one point and could not stand later, as well as a few that I didn’t really like who turned out to be some of my favorites by the end.
There is no love triangle, thank goodness! That is not the case with a good many dystopian books, but in this series the characters are not hormone controlled people who cannot make a choice about whom they love. There are love interests in the books, but they are endearing and are not flopping from one love interest to the other. YAY! I mean, seriously, how many people do you know that can’t decide which person they want to be with?
There are also quite a few plot twists that come at you when you least expect it and a few that you may see coming. Amid very mixed reviews of the series that can be found online, I highly encourage everyone to read this series for yourself. I think you’ll find it extremely well worth your time.
The premise of the story is that there are two countries: one is a matriarchal society and one is patriarchal (Matrus and Patrus). There are issues in each society that make it difficult for everyone to be successful.
In Matrus, which is ruled by Queen Rina, men can work, but they generally cannot hold any position of authority so women hold all of the power. While grown men are not treated poorly in Matrus, all young boys are tested to determine their aggressiveness and ability to conform to a matriarchal society. If they fail the test, they are sent to the northern part of the country to work in the mines and are never seen again.
Violet Bates has taken care of her younger brother Tim since their mom passed away. When the story opens she is trying to get him across the toxic Veil River and into Patrus with the help of her cousin Cad who lives in Patrus, because he failed the aggressiveness test. When they are caught in the act, Tim is sent to the mines and Violet is sent to prison.
Violet is not really great at keeping her temper in check and after her third major run-in with the law, she believes she is going to be executed. Instead, she is given an option: Go on a very secret mission into Patrus to retrieve something that the Patrians stole from Matrus.
Of course, there is a catch. Not only is Patrus male-dominated and ruled, but women are not allowed any rights there. They are either the property of their father or their husband so Violet will have to marry her contact and partner, Lee Bertrand. She, like the other women of Patrus, can never be outside of her house alone, as this is illegal, so while Lee is working he sets her up with Viggo Croft, whom they are setting up to take the fall for their crimes.
Perilously flying over The Green in a motorcycle turned airplane, Violet, unsure of how the thing really works, is also completely unsure how someone she trusted could have betrayed her (not to mention betraying the people of Matrus) so shockingly.
Then there is the question of what in the world is in the egg-like case she is carrying and why it is so important to both countries.
Knowing that she has lost all hope of finding her brother and that she allowed Lee to frame Viggo, Violet is completely alone in the world once again. How will she ever survive since she is now wanted for murder in both countries?
Add to that the fact that Viggo, furious at being betrayed by Violet, has promised King Maxen that he will find her and return her to Patrus to be held accountable and Violet’s chances of survival are basically non-existent.
Violet is not a trusting person at heart, so when she meets a group of dissidents from both Matrus and Patrus she is not quick to join them. But Viggo’s life is on the line and she will do whatever it takes to save him, even if it means a very risky excursion into Patrus.
The woman who leads the group is honest and open to a fault with Violet (which is not something Violet is used to) so she has no reason not to trust her and her group of Liberators.
In addition, she has found her brother and the reunion is much more difficult than she ever imagined and she knows she has to find a way to help him. So she has everything to gain by joining with them, especially when she begins to realize just how far both countries have gone to cover up the lies that keep them running.
The gig is up. The truth is out in the open and Queen Elena is playing for keeps. She and her very evil sister, Tabitha, will stop at nothing to ensure they get what they want, and that includes killing Violet.
The new group of Liberators who want to stop the war the sisters have planned are doing everything they can to bring down the Queen and her band of merry murderers. But they are using the boys and Violet and Viggo refuse to hurt purposely any of them because they are completely innocent and are being controlled by Desmond and Elena.
Even with one major threat eliminated, Viggo is still at wit’s end with worry over Violet’s recovery. Not to mention having to tell her that Tim hasn’t been seen since they were all at the palace.
As if that was not enough, the team makes a startling discovery about where the men of Patrus have been taken and also meet one of their most despised enemies face-to-face. They have come to realize that they must let the rest of the people of Patrus know what is actually being planned by Queen Elena.
Getting the proof of Queen Elena’s sinister plan out to the people of Patrus is not, obviously, without risks and repercussions. But the inhumane way that the Matrians respond brought the Liberators to the dire understanding that Queen Elena will do anything to gain control of Patrus, even if it means killing everyone there. With that realization came the awareness that she would probably go for the fastest, most sure-fire way to control the population: the water treatment plant.
In the biggest fight of their lives the Liberators, along with several other rebel groups, move to take out the threat. They fear that many will give their lives for this, but know that they must give it everything they’ve got.
Having lost many in battle, the Liberators and the rebels know that their fight is not yet over. Elena will stop at nothing until she has what she craves – domination over Matrus and Patrus, the egg, and making sure that all of the Liberators dead.
With one final crusade the Liberators must rid the nations of the threats posed by Queen Elena if any of them are to ever be free. But doing so means putting themselves in Elena’s direct path on her turf. Violet’s final act of rebellion takes her back to where it all began in order to end it one way or another. In the end, only one group can be successful and not everyone who goes in will come out alive.
Seriously…read these books!
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