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The Gender Game #1

The Gender Game

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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...

418 pages, Kindle Edition

First published September 24, 2016

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About the author

Bella Forrest

174 books8,282 followers
Bella Forrest is a lover of fantasy, romance, action, and mystery infused stories with twists you don’t see coming. She has sold over seven million books since her first novel was published in 2012.

☞ A Shade of Vampire: A Gate of Light (Book 91)
☞ Harley Merlin 20: Persie Merlin and the Witch Hunters
☞ Darklight 8: Darkwilds

Sign up to Bella's New Release email list and you'll automatically be notified as soon as her next book is released: www.MoreBellaForrest.com

Find her on Amazon: www.amazon.com/Bella-Forrest/e/B00AR2...

Check out her website for a full list of her books: www.bellaforrest.net

Here's a list of some of Bella's books:


Darklight (Book 1)
Darkthirst (Book 2)
Darkworld (Book 3)
Darkblood (Book 4)
Darktide (Book 5)
Darkbirth (Book 6)
Darkfall (Book 7)
Darkwilds (Book 8)
Darkhunt (Book 9) ➜ August 8, 2020

A Love that Endures 1
A Love that Endures 2
A Love that Endures 3


Harley Merlin and the Secret Coven (Book 1)
Harley Merlin and the Mystery Twins (Book 2)
Harley Merlin and the Stolen Magicals (Book 3)
Harley Merlin and the First Ritual (Book 4)
Harley Merlin and the Broken Spell (Book 5)
Harley Merlin and the Cult of Eris (Book 6)
Harley Merlin and the Detector Fix (Book 7)
Harley Merlin and the Challenge of Chaos (Book 8)
Harley Merlin and the Mortal Pact (Book 9)
Finch Merlin and the Fount of Youth (Book 10)
Finch Merlin and the Lost Map (Book 11)
Finch Merlin and the Djinn's Curse (Book 12)
Finch Merlin and the Locked Gateway (Book 13)
Finch Merlin and the Forgotten Kingdom (Book 14)
Finch Merlin and the Everlasting Vow (Book 15)
Finch Merlin and the Blood Tie (Book 16)
Finch Merlin and the Legend of the Luminary
Persie Merlin and Leviathan's Gift (Book 18)
Persie Merlin and the Door to Nowhere (Book 19)
Persie Merlin and the Witch Hunters (Book 20)
Persie Merlin and the Dying Song (Book 21) ➜ August 31, 2020


The Child Thief (Book 1)
Deep Shadows (Book 2)
Thin Lines (Book 3)
Little Lies (Book 4)
Ghost Towns (Book 5)
Zero Hour (Book 6)


Hotbloods (Book 1)
Hotbloods (Book 2): Coldbloods
Hotbloods (Book 3): Renegades
Hotbloods (Book 4): Venturers
Hotbloods (Book 5): Traitors
Hotbloods (Book 6): Allies
Hotbloods (Book 7): Invaders
Hotbloods (Book 8): Stargazers


The Gender Game (Book 1)
The Gender Secret (Book 2)
The Gender Lie (Book 3)
The Gender War (Book 4)
The Gender Fall (Book 5)
The Gender Plan (Book 6)
The Gender End (Book 7)


The Girl Who Dared to Think (Book 1)
The Girl Who Dared to Stand (Book 2)
The Girl Who Dared to Descend (Book 3)
The Girl Who Dared to Rise (Book 4)
The Girl Who Dared to Lead (Book 5)
The Girl Who Dared to Endure (Book 6
The Girl Who Dared to Fight (Book 7)


Season 1: Derek & Sofia’s story

Books 1 to 7

Season 2: Rose & Caleb’s story

Books 8 to 16

Season 3: The Shade continues with a new hero...

Books 17 to 24

Season 4: A Clan of Novaks

Books 25 to 32

Season 5: A Dawn of Guardians

Books 33 to 41

Season 6: A Gift of Three

Books 42 to 50

Season 7: A Call of Vampires

Books 51 to 59

Season 8: A Voyage of Founders

Books 60 to 68

Season 9: A Birth of Fire

Books 69 to 77

Season 10: An Origin of Vampires
An Origin of Vampires (Book 78)
A Game of Death (Book 79)
A Veil of Dark (Book 80)
A Bringer of Night (Book 81)
A Circle of Nine (Book 82)
A Bender of Spirit (Book 83)
A Memory of Time (Book 84)
A Shard of Soul (Book 85)
A Break of Seals (Book 86)

Season 11: A Shade of Mystery
A Shade of Mystery (Book 87)
An Isle of Mirrors (Book 88)
A Sanctuary of Foes (Book 89)
A Ruler of Clones (Book 90)
A Gate of Light (Book 91)
A Dawn of Worlds (Book 92) ➜ August 20, 2020

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5 stars
13,590 (33%)
4 stars
14,072 (34%)
3 stars
8,906 (21%)
2 stars
2,948 (7%)
1 star
1,469 (3%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 2,863 reviews
Profile Image for Carol [Goodreads Addict].
2,311 reviews24.7k followers
September 12, 2016
The Gender Game is book one in a brand new series by Bella Forrest. This book was generously provided to me in exchange for an honest review by NetGalley, NightLight Press, and by Bella Forrest. I have to give so much credit to Bella Forrest for such a big change from her Shade of Vampire series. I would classify this book as Dystopian. I loved the world she has created here. It is so unique .

This world consists of two societies. On one side of the river is Matrus, ruled by a Queen where women are the dominant. The men do have a few rights but not many. The Matrians strength is in their advances in Biology and Chemistry. On the other side of the river is Patrus where the men rule. In Patrus, women have no rights at all. They are completely under the rule of their husbands. They are not allowed to go out alone, ever. They must obey their husbands at all times. They own nothing. Any possessions they might take into a marriage become their husbands. The Patrians strength is their agriculture and architecture. The two societies are forced to trade for survival but there is a constant competition between them to outdo the other.

Violet Bates was born in Matrus. But her life was a hard one. She and her little brother were orphaned early when their mother died. Violet’s biggest responsibility was to take care of her brother. And when he was deemed unfit, she tried to smuggle him out of Matrus. Thus began the bad luck that followed her throughout her life.

women in prison:

I have seen several reviews where people didn’t like Violet. I actually really liked her. She is nineteen when the main part of the book takes place. Does she have a temper, yes. Has she made some poor decisions out of anger, yes. But she has seen nothing good in her life. She tries to keep out of trouble but something always happens. In my opinion, the events that lead up to the main part of this book might have been manipulated in order to get her on board with their plan. This is completely my own thoughts here. Just a hunch.

lonely woman on a ferry:

Violet is forced to choose between death for her crimes or to go under cover into Patrus to steal back an item they stole from Matrus. Of course she will take the mission. Her contact in Patrus is Lee, whom she must marry for the plan to work. Lee is busy with the details of the plan and appoints a guardian that can look after Violet while Lee is at work. His name is Viggo. Enter the strong, silent type with the painful past.

misty forest:

Now, this is NOT a love triangle. Lee is simply a fake husband and part of the mission. He puts Violet into all sorts of dangerous situations but Violet does as she is instructed every single time. Violet tries to keep her emotions out of things, trying to keep her eye on the end goal, something the Queen promised her if the mission was successful. But the further in to things they get, she can’t help but feel like Lee is wrong. That there has to be a better way.

“However dangerous this mysterious mission could turn out to be, anything was better than death…Wasn’t it?”

hand of imprisoned woman:

I really did enjoy this book. I am rating it four stars but it is a VERY strong four stars. I felt like it was a little slow at times but in true Bella Forrest fashion, the last 25% was crazy intense. And what an ending!!! Just WOW! I did miss the romance factor in this one but am hoping for a little more in the following book. I do love my romance. The next book in the series will be called The Gender Secret and I will most definitely be reading it. I have to see what comes next for Violet.

Profile Image for Nemo ☠️ (pagesandprozac).
859 reviews398 followers
Shelved as 'nein-nein-nein'
January 29, 2019
"matrus and patrus" i am in awe at these names. how astonishingly witty and original. another thing that's astonishingly witty and original: battle of the sexes. because wow because i've never heard that before. cutting-fucking-edge stuff right here guys.

(EDIT: i just remembered this thing i wrote so i looked at it again and gfdgfgdgfdgfg i realised that not only are they just unoriginal but "matrus and patrus" are ways to make mother and father sound more Fancy and Sophisticated by using the classic Latin suffix "-us" but that makes literally ZERO GRAMMATICAL SENSE DHHDFHDHFH like if you're going to use Latin to make things Clever or what the fuck ever can you at least do it in a way that makes grammatical sense instead of pulling random pretentious shit out ur arse? thanx. like... matra and patrus i could maybe be on board with but yOU CAN'T JUST SHOVE "US" ON THE END OF WORDS AND THINK THAT'S SOPHISTICATED I S2G i mean... mater and pater are latin anyway but i get using those is like too basic but you CAN'T just put -US on a FEMININE NOUN because it's gramatically incorrect just.... STOP trying to be clever if you don't know what you're DOING!!!!!!! ok this is a pretty minor gripe compared with the trans stuff bUT i'm a classicist so it's my pet peeve. sorry not sorry.)

anyways when are cisgender people going to stop pulling this shit. i guess trans people don't exist. or non-binary people. or intersex people. you know what, i'd read a book about a dystopia like this if there WERE TRANS PEOPLE IN IT because come the fuck on if you're writing about a hardcore gender-divided society you can't just erase trans people like what the fuck.

anyways if this sounds bitter and angry that's because i am a bitter and angry trans person who is bitter and angry about people pretending we don't exist. :))))
Profile Image for Jill Maloney.
107 reviews23 followers
April 15, 2017
I have to stop buying $1 Young-Adult Kindle Reads and expecting them to be well written and well plotted. Played myself.
Profile Image for Dannii Elle.
2,012 reviews1,404 followers
October 3, 2016
Actual rating 2.5 stars.

I received this in exchange for an honest review from NetGalley. Thank you to the author, Bella Forrest, and the publisher, Createspace Independent Publishing Platform, for this opportunity.

The Gender Game is set in a world where the community is divided on two sides of a river bordered by toxic wasteland. One side is a society dominated by men, and the other a society dominated by women. This seemed like a unique and exciting foundation for a novel, but, unfortunately, it fell through on the interpretation.

The protagonist, nineteen-year-old Violet Bates, lives under control of the matriarchy. Since the death of her mother and the apprehension of her younger brother, after her failed attempt to transport him over the river, Violet has lived in a series of detention centers due to ill behavior. Her second accidental murder sees her set on a secret mission by Queen Rina and Prince Alisatair to infiltrate the bordering lands, under the false pretenses of a marriage to one of their native males.

The patriarchal-ruled society treated women as objects, to be seen and not heard, to live predominately in the indoor sphere, and always escorted by their spouse when in any public place. This futuristic society seemed to have devolved a few hundred years and this could almost be a classic Gothic novel, in some parts, if not for the science-fiction elements.

The other society is hardly any better in their strict laws and harsh treatment of both of the sexes. I found it difficult to find a side to root for, for much of the text, when neither seemed to have any redeeming qualities.

I had assumed Violet would overthrow the patriarchy and make them reassess the female sex with her feisty independence. Instead, she just kissed some boys, fell in 'love', ruined her undercover mission and completely failed to grasp what the word 'covert' even meant. I found her an infuriating protagonist and she seemed to dislike and yet acquiesce to the sexism she was subjected to.

My main grievance with this novel is that, for a thrilling synopsis, it lacked all tension. I felt little apprehension for any of the characters and this distanced me from their plight. The last portion redeemed itself, somewhat, but, for me, it was a case of too little, too late.
Profile Image for Rhi.
359 reviews138 followers
November 27, 2017
Forget the shoddy plot. The childish writing. The bland characters. Forget, even, the anvil heavy symbolism and imagery throughout the narrative.
No, perhaps the most problematic thing about this book is the author’s complete misunderstanding of what exactly the patriarchy is.

Dismantling toxic masculinity doesn’t work when you position your main love interest as a ‘rugged’ cage fighter who smells of pine and ‘virile’. Dismantling toxic masculinity doesn’t mean making a female character really ‘into’ cage fighting because she is psychotically aggressive herself. Dismantling toxic masculinity doesn’t involve writing a kiss scene wherein the female character describes being overpowered by his strength and manly physicality.

Dismantling toxic masculinity requires thoughtful, considered understandings of what it means to be, both, a female and a male living within a culture of ‘boys will be boys’.

This book is neither thoughtful, not enjoyable. Do not waste your time.
Profile Image for Sarah Elizabeth.
4,689 reviews1,267 followers
September 12, 2016
(Source: I received a digital copy of this book for free on a read-to-review basis. Thanks to NightLight Press and NetGalley.)

“Once you reach the other side of the river, trust no one, Violet. Do you understand me?”

This was a YA dystopian story, in which different genders ruled in different cities.

Violet was quite unfortunate in this story that she kept finding her way into trouble. At points it even seemed like she was doing it on purpose as she had very little regard for rules and regulations, and just did things that she knew she shouldn’t be doing.

The storyline in this was about a secret mission that Violet was sent on, which involved going to Patrus, marrying a Patrus man as a cover story, and then stealing a special silver egg. The pace in this was just way too slow for me though, and I didn’t really love the forbidden romance either as again it just seemed like Violet inviting trouble in.

The ending to this was the most exciting part of the book, but it left Violet in a very tricky position.

6.5 out of 10
Profile Image for Silvia .
635 reviews1,387 followers
February 15, 2017
DNF at 25%

I was sent this book by the publisher on Netgalley in exchange for a honest review.

Sadly, I can't bring myself to finish this book as of right now. I can't say that this book is really bad, but I also didn't enjoy anything about it.

I found the writing extremely flat. The narrative was full of pointless information and tiny details that only bored me, and it was a info-dump nightmare. Even the new characters were introduced in a very info-dumpy and totally not realistic way. Like, she sees the picture of Lee and every single feature is laid out. She describes his eye color (of course grey-blue), his hair, his facial features... nothing is left to imagination or left for later when we actually meet the guy. And when we do it's another info-dump about his whole life within the first 5 minutes of them meeting?? I'm sorry but that's not realistic nor does it entice me to keep reading.
Profile Image for Dianne.
6,765 reviews582 followers
September 26, 2016
I found myself mentally digging deep into Bella Forrest’s The Gender Game for possibly some unintended symbolism or deep meanings? Two societies exist, separated by a toxic river. Not only are their ideologies different, but the battle of the sexes has taken a very ugly turn as one side of the river is dominated by women and the other by men. The men of Matrus are powerless, pieces of property, much as women have been seen as for centuries past, while the women of Patrus are also the lowest form of non-citizen property.

As a child, Violet fought to save her brother from the cruelty of Matrus in a thwarted attempt to smuggle him across the river to Patrus. Her punishment, a prison type environment that will leave her hardened, bitter and yearning for a sense of freedom neither side can provide. Her latest crime will leave her scheduled for death until she is offered the opportunity to play spy as the wife of a Matrus sympathizer in Patrus. All is not as it seems as she navigates the stifling world of Patrus and the one man she should fear the most is the one man who steals her heart, and yet, she must betray him, but for what?

Are you looking for one brave and bold heroine to root for? Violet is amazing with her strong convictions, her ability to be like a chameleon and how far she would go for one she loves. The action is not so much in the physical as it is in the emotional and mental journey violet is on. Her eyes are opened to a world that will deceive with ease while tossing trust out of the window for power and dominance.

Maybe I took this too far with my search for symbolism and meaning, but, let’s see, women vs men, a toxic river dividing them, deceit in its worst form, and the hidden quests for power and control with hopes of destroying all who oppose them, all while actually needing each other for the strengths each other side possesses. I liked the story, I liked the heroine and I liked the relationship she was developing with “the enemy.”

I received an ARC edition from Nightlight Press in exchange for my honest review.

Series: The Gender Games - Book 1
Publication Date: September 24, 2016
Publisher: Nightlight Press
ISBN-10: 1535197722
ISBN-13: 978-1535197724
Genre: YA Dystopian Romance
Print Length: 418 pages
Available from:Amazon | Barnes & Noble 
For Reviews & More: http://tometender.blogspot.com

Profile Image for Lori Brown clapper.
5 reviews28 followers
August 28, 2018
WOW! Being familiar with Bella's writing, I was thrilled that she was starting a new series. I dove in expecting the same type of story as I've become accustomed to with her Shade series (which I adore), but this was VERY different - in a VERY good way! The Gender Game drew me in and kept me enthralled from beginning to end. Although Bella tackled a completely different genre and theme in this book, her telltale descriptive writing and personable characters were still present...as were the most jaw dropping twists and turns to the story line.
Bella created characters that you couldn't help but relate to and fall in love with, while other characters make you wish to jump into the book and literally ring their neck! But just remember, with Bella's writing, people are not all that they seem! ;) Be careful who you fall in love with while reading - and trust no one.
She took the good old "boys vs. girls" theme that we are all familiar with (and that we know still exists today) and kicked it up a notch. In the real world, where women are still fighting to be considered equal to men, this book gives an interesting view of the sexes, how we relate to each other ... and a glimpse into what it would look like if we don't learn to value each other and our differences. It begins to answer the age old question - can love win out over all adversity? But at the same time it made me question just how warped and power hungry human nature can become. The book wasn't written to push an agenda or make a political statement. It was written for pure entertainment in the YA genre, and it has exceeded that goal for me.
Bella's imagination and her vivid story telling are so evident in this book. My family always says they know when I am enjoying a good book because I often times yell or cry at the book/characters while I'm reading. This book brought about those emotions and many more. I cannot WAIT for the next installment to see where she takes us!
Profile Image for Ari Reavis.
Author 17 books147 followers
September 3, 2016
*ARC received from Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review*

2.5 stars

When I saw the blurb, I immediately wanted this book. Then I saw the author and knew I just had to have it. But sadly I'm left underwhelmed and confused. The biggest letdown was the romance because.... What romance? There was 1 kiss and what I would call a barely there friendship. The whole book leads up to this big climax and the climax just ended up being a big ball of confusion. Who did what and why? Then there were bursts of mma fighting and although I like action, I was sitting there reading thinking, 'What does this have to do with the story?'. I kept reading to see what came of all the cloak and dagger and to see where the hell this 'romance' would go. Very strong beginning. Boring middle. Weak and confusing ending.
Profile Image for Maria Dimitrova.
744 reviews139 followers
November 24, 2016
3.5 stars
This is a hard one to review. I liked the main character but the world drove me mad. It's not bad world building it's just that the world is so wrong that it makes you want to scream. Imagine a world ruled by feminazis on steroids. With men totally subjugated, told what to do, what to work and tested for violence at a young age and then if the show any sort of spine are This is Matrus. Doesn't sound good, right? In fact it sounds like a nightmare. And then there's Patrus, which is basically any country living under Sheria law but without burkas and even less women's rights. The men in Matrus are a bit better because they can at least go out on their own without facing jail time/hanging. But not much better. The entire world is just so awful that reading about it leaves a bad taste in my mouth and makes me want to throw my Kindle across the room!

The plot was a bit overly complicated and at times things made so little sense that it;s ridiculous. Still it was engaging and the main character Violet is very likeable. She had her TSTL moments but they didn't annoy me too much. Viggo was interesting and I truly began to care for him by the end of the book so I'm looking forward to the next instalment and learning what has happened to him. And learning more about how this ridiculous system came to be and how the two governments have managed to keep people from rebelling against those stupid laws and prohibitions centuries ago!
225 reviews3 followers
September 14, 2016
(I got a free copy from NetGalley)

The premise of this book is ridiculous. The secret service of a country, with direct input from the queen, needs two people to carry out a dangerous mission in order to prevent a national crisis. Who to choose? How about our protagonist, a 19 year old juvenile delinquent, currently incarcerated? She has a history of impulsive, self destructive, violent acts and no experience at anything related to this mission. Her only skill is she has been trained in self defense. A perfect choice!
What happens is much like you might imagine if a teenager were to be recruited as a spy and sent on a secret mission. Crazy, impulsive acts that continually threaten the mission. And lots and lots of shear stupidity. Oh yes...and not only does she cause problems for almost everyone she meets because of her immature behavior, she annoys them to no end.
I found myself increasingly annoyed too, and exasperated with this book. I forced myself to finish, but it was hard going. The middle section was particularly trying. I struggled through it because I wanted to find out what happened in the end, but my mind kept wandering off, making shopping lists and begging me to stop.
I ignored it and pressed on. The pace at the end picked up a little, so I was encouraged, but the story continued with its unbelievably ridiculous events and the annoying and stupid behavior of the heroine. I felt cheated because after reading all this, I was still left hanging. Much was left unexplained.
It turns out you have to read the next book to find out. That most definitely won't happen.
Profile Image for ren.
178 reviews39 followers
Shelved as 'nope'
October 20, 2016
i never saw a premise so awful
like... how can anyone not see how inherently transphobic and enbyphobic this is
i bet there isn't a single trans character in this book & that non-binary genders aren't mentioned at all
this looks like it's such a huge mess smh
209 reviews41 followers
August 21, 2019
This is the first book I’ve read by Bella Forrest, and I’m looking forward to the rest of the series! This is a dystopian Young Adult series that should appeal to readers of The Hunger Games and Divergent and similar books.

First the negatives: the characters aren’t very developed. Main character Violet is fairly developed, everyone else is kind of thin, basically a trope (handsome brooding muscled guy who is drawn to heroine? Check! Teacher/mentor who feels heroine is best student she’s ever had? Check! Etc.)

The setup is a little weak—both the Matrius and the Patrius countries seem horrible, and there appears to be plenty of undeveloped land surrounding them, seems like the vast majority of people would want to abandon both countries and start a normal one. I had a hard time believing that men would want to stay in Patrius, where few women would want to be because they are literally property, and I had a hard time believing that women would want to be in Matrius, where men likewise didn’t have the same rights and therefore wouldn’t want to be (and families would reeaalllyy have to drink the Koolaid to be ok with having their male children taken away to work as miners because they weren’t passive enough!). When you read fiction, you need to be able to suspend belief and have everything be real and make sense in the world of the book. And I don’t like it when I’m thrown out of the book because things are too hard to believe.

Some plot points seemed really convenient, also. The book seems like it was 100% designed to capitalize on The Hunger Games and similar successful books. Several times characters would do stuff where it didn’t seem logical, like it didn’t match what we’d read so far about that character, and it would seem a little…off. And it tries too hard to hit all the desired tropes in the plot.

But, there are a lot of positives. I basically liked it in SPITE of all the above. Violet has always wanted to track down her brother—he was sent away to toil in the mines because as a child he tested as having aggressive tendencies. When she commits a crime through self defense, she is told by the ruler of Matrius that she will be executed—UNLESS she agrees to infiltrate Patrius, pretending to be the new spouse of a sympathetic resident, and get back an egg stolen from Matrius. And then not only will she stay alive, she can be reunited with her brother.

The plot is interesting, the pacing is great, there was a lot of action, and the book definitely held my attention and made me want to read the next book. It isn’t a super deep book, but you know, I found it enjoyable. If you’re looking for excellence in literature? Umm…noo…But, if you’re looking for a engaging read? Sure! Even the similarities to The Hunger Games and others isn’t necessarily BAD—there’s a reason we loved Hunger Games, after all! I would recommend this to people who enjoy dystopian series books, action-packed YA, or kickass female protagonists!
Profile Image for Jorgie Eskew.
14 reviews17 followers
August 27, 2016
I received this as ARC from Netgalley and I gotta say, I was not expecting this book to be very good. But boy was I wrong.

This a story about a world where two countries are split by a river. On one side we have Matrus, on the other we have Patrus. Matrus is ruled by woman. Patrus is ruled by men..See now why I was hesitant

In Matrus there is Violet, our amazing, tough and protective Heroine. After attempting to save her brother from being sent off to the mines and failing, she gets put in the “system” where she continues to protect herself as well as others. One incident leads to an accidental death and Violet gets blamed.

In Matrus any violence is perceived as un necessary.. Crazy right? So with that being said a violent act against another girl in the system leads Violet to a choice. A choice of either being put to death or Marrying a man for an undercover mission in Patrus. Violet seeing this as her chance to finally see her brother again, makes a deal and is sent to marry Lee in Patrus…. Which I do not care for so enough about him.

Let’s talk about Viggo *sigh* Viggo Viggo Viggo, if only you were real. Viggo is the man that she is supposed to frame for the crimes that her and Lee commit against Patrus. In order to frame him she needs him to trust her, and for him to trust her, she needs to get close to him. Need I say more?

I could not put this down once I started reading this book. The author did a great job and I definitely recommend anyone that reads this review to read it.

Professional Reader
Profile Image for Abbie.
1,976 reviews584 followers
September 11, 2016
(I received a copy from Netgalley, In exchange for an honest review.)

A generous 3.5

I felt quite sorry for the main character in this at points. For most of the story she was an okay character, but there were times where she annoyed me slightly.

This started out quite good, and I was really interested to see where it was going to go. Unfortunately though, after the first 25% or so, it went downhill a bit for me.

It was still an interesting read, but there were a few parts that dragged for me, as they felt quite heavy. The book felt quite long in areas because of those parts.

Overall, An interesting read, but it lost some of my enjoyment after the first quarter.
40 reviews
August 26, 2016
In this curious story about the split between the genders, we see a dystopian world where the countries of Matrus and Patrus are split by a toxic river. Patrus is a Patriarchy, where women have no rights and belong to their husband. They are little better than pets and are treated as such. In Matrus, we have the Matriarchy. Women are the ruling class, allowing few men to live in their midst. They tolerate little violence and even test young boys that are born to screen them for 'undesirable' male traits, such as aggression and dominance.

The boys who are deemed unworthy....well....they claim they send them to the mines...but who can really be sure?

Violet is our protagonist in this tale and she is tough as friggin' nails. She is essentially a juvenile delinquent when we start the book, but she isn't a delinquent in the worst of terms. This girl defends herself and those that she likes. In a country where violence is looked down on, Violet is definitely in trouble, seeing as she loves a good brawl. Her aggressively protective and defensive tendencies have landed her in the 'system' after the original incident of her trying to save her brother from the mines and then for defending herself with a 'weapon'.

One thing leads to another and she is eventually out of second chances...it is either death or marry a man in Patrus for an undercover mission to recover a biological artifact that was stolen from Matrus.

Violet chooses to marry Lee in Patrus, where the two of them conspire to steal back the "egg" and frame another man for the crime. The story centralizes around Violet and her mark (the man they intend to frame), Viggo. While Violet tries to get accustomed to virtually being a pet in Patrus, she finds herself falling for the man she needs to frame, a man who has already had so much pain in his life.

I loved this book and could not bear to put it down! Violet is a wonderful character, she is not perfect but she is bold and brave. She is likable. She values the friendships she makes. Viggo is a man with an unfortunate past and an equally likeable character. Lee is probably the only character that I did not care for at all in this book....his characterization seemed sort of 'BLAH' to me. I think he could have been fleshed out more...I mean Violet is married to him but they barely have any interaction in the book, seemed like a missed chance in my opinion.

Aside from that, there is a lot of action in the book, a scene of torture as well. Everything is very well written and easy to read.

I would highly recommend this book to readers of dystopian fiction. There is a little romance in this book, but none of it is cheesy, everything is quite organic. The plot is unique and the world is definitely fun to read about....definitely different from anything I have read in a long while. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this.

Professional Reader

I received an ARC of this book from the Publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for samantha  Bookworm-on-rainydays.
278 reviews116 followers
January 18, 2018
I enjoyed this book so much! It has a riveting storyline, intriguing characters, and a refreshing protagonist. it's fast paced. has many twists and turns. for me its been a long time since i read a dystopia series and or book, and this one is pretty good one to get me but into it, the only thing i didn't like is that it dose copy the hunger games just a bit in it's wording. but besides that i would recoomend it to anyone who likes dystopias and Sci-fi books
Profile Image for Marta Cox.
2,547 reviews190 followers
August 31, 2016
Ok time to be honest and say although I've read the first two Shade of Vampire stories I just wasn't that impressed so in spite of friends loving that series I'd given up. Then I spotted this on Netgalley and was curious but when I looked online so many good and bad reviews popped up that I thought wow this is a contentious book and I need to decide for myself .
Ignore the title and don't expect something along the lines of certain books and blockbusters that are popular with teens recently. This isn't a game and it's perhaps not even that dystopian but it does have two very different societies in play with attitudes that felt feudal and at times barbaric but as a reader I couldn't help wondering why? It doesn't matter which side of the river you live as both cultures have attitudes that prevent true integration and equality . Clearly the author tried to get the point across that males and females should respect each other but the unequal balance meant both cultures failed miserably .
Our heroine isn't as bad as she's painted and has fought to survive in her maternal society but has no doubts about her lowly place. Violet has triumphed in many ways surviving loss of loved ones and even the bullying of those around her but her actions still lead her down a path that will see her traveling incognito to the male dominated Patrus. There she is subjected to a totally different attitude were she is expected to be subservient but Violet struggles with her own nature and boy does that land her in hot water! Yet her mission is paramount and her contact Lee pushes her into more and more bizarre situations until Violet feels like she has no place to run in a society that offers no second chances.
Ok I read this in an afternoon as I couldn't put it down. Violet is tough, trained to be a fighter and yet it's obvious she is also a protector ( think Scrappy Doo!). I'm also aware that she doesn't regret her actions too much so other readers might find her cold and maybe even a little psychotic but given her circumstances and her clearly outgoing nature I found I had sympathy for her.
There are two main characters who she interacts with and they are her contact Lee and the security operative Viggo. Is it meant to be a love triangle ? For me absolutely not and I won't give the plot away but it was clear that only one of those males could ever give Violet a fulfilling unrestrained relationship . What I didn't like was the disparity between the two male leads as the author gives insight and depth to Viggo whilst Lee is in many ways still an enigma.
Violet is tough but I was very surprised by a weapon she uses early on and will view dental work in a whole new light! I wasn't happy that her pigheaded ways put her in danger when she could easily avoid it but I'm guessing being treated as little more than a subservient pet really grated on her. The author introduced a habitat that was very intriguing and I'm wondering not just what but who might actually survive there? Then of course there's the ending which was a complete surprise and hopefully it will lead to all manner of things coming to light . Yes it's YA but I was enthralled and would definitely read the next book
I was gifted a copy from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review
Four and a half from me
Profile Image for Megan.
228 reviews4,357 followers
July 23, 2020
please do not make me think about this anymore LMAO vlog coming soon.
Profile Image for angela .
785 reviews137 followers
December 20, 2018

Full of surprises, intrigue, corruption. With Lee leaving Violet in a very precarious mess. I can't wait to see what this brave young woman will do. This is a very different concept for a book that works wonderful. Poor Violet has suffered most of her life and her personality hasn't helped her predicament. However, an opportunity comes along she has to take. During this opportunity she has her first brush with caring for a man, the way a woman would. She also has a brother that may or may not be alive, she is determined to find out. Truly an amazing, enticing story that consumed me.
Profile Image for Hollie.
1,672 reviews
September 27, 2016
My main complaint about this book, is that its not a complete story. At my time of purchase nothing in the description indicated that this book was part of a series. Therefore, when I came upon the cliffhanger ending, I was a bit pissed. The story was pretty bland for the most part. I do think it has potential as a whole for a YA/sci fi dystopia series, but this one didn’t have much depth. I doubt I will continue this series. I am glad it was offered as a kindleunlimited though.
Profile Image for Fiona Akkerman.
127 reviews18 followers
August 29, 2016
We were on a freight train with broken brakes.
We had to execute, or die trying.
But...I knew that I had become a different kind of passenger. The kind of passenger to leap from a runaway train. The kind who would not wait until the end.

Two cities, separated by a river. On one side, Matrus is ruled by women; on the opposite, Patrus is ruled by men. Relations between the two societies are teetering. And Patrus has stolen something which Matrus wants back.

The story starts out strong. Our hot-tempered heroine, Violet, is (of course) an orphan whose little brother was taken away years ago by the police because of his "domineering" character, and she has grown up in a series of detention facilities learning to fend for herself. After she gets into a fight with a bully, resulting in (accidental) womanslaughter, she is sentenced to death. However, she is offered a pardon from her crimes on the condition that she serves as an undercover agent to retrieve something in Patrus which has been stolen from Matrus's biology lab. Clearly, the government needs someone expendable. And clearly Vi has no choice.

As the story goes on, though, I felt it losing coherence. Certainly, it was suspenseful and I'll admit I couldn't put it down. But after Vi crosses the river, the focus shifted from plot to romance and it didn't recover. I was crazy to know how it would end - if the mission would be a success and what Vi would have to sacrifice to survive - but the last several chapters fell to pieces. It felt rushed and thin, and by the time it ended I was frustrated by a lot of loose ends, the lack of resolution and a plot which was thinner than I thought it would be. And I hadn't realised it's the start of a trilogy, so...yeah. It felt more like the first part of a book rather than the first book in a series.

I like the concept of a country divided into two societies in which gender determines a person's fate, not so much because it's realistic or likely but because it's an idea which is interesting to explore and think about, and asking "what if" makes you reconsider gender roles in our society. But the subject was hardly addressed (a shame, considering it's the title of the novel), except to assert that females are more just, kind, and fair towards the opposite sex; less violent, better at ruling and altogether superior to males, except in intelligence (and only because Patrus had discovered a mind-enhancing drug). Also, Matrus was portrayed as the underdog - the victim of Patrus and its ruthless king who had the advantage of occupying better land, and only traded their worst goods with Matrus.

The setting needed more attention. For example, each city is ruled by a monarch who lives in a palace and has courtiers, but everything works more like a democracy. And it was difficult to place it in a time period - it could've been futuristic, or an alternate modern America, but it had echoes of the 1950s in terms of fashion, and a medieval twist with the whole monarchy/sexist themes. I wanted to know how these societies came to this point. What caused the final break. How it could be decided at a government level that something as big as a national gender division should take place. I wanted to see how the mindset of the people was different. The effects of male-chauvinism on men. The effects of feminism on women. How it would isolate them from each other. The resulting disillusion and strain. How it would effect different occupations. Education. Science. Art. The political and economic situation. But none of these issues were examined.

The setting became an excuse for the plot, and eventually the plot became an excuse for the romance.

There were a lot of things that didn't make sense plot-wise, too.

The characters were okay. Violet was all right but I found her too stereotypical to be particularly interesting. Especially towards the end, it became more like the author living her fantasy in this character. She had a temper I liked but was too boring as a Triss-cum-Katniss clone (with less of a clue about what she was doing).

Viggo's character was well done, although I would've liked him fleshed out more (and less cliché - the irresistibly handsome, brooding guy with a tragic past). I did like the cage-fighting subplot and how Viggo and Violet found a connection through that. It was almost more compelling than the main plot.

Lee was absolutely 2D. I mean, there were even things he said and did which contradicted his own behaviour. It was like the author couldn't be bothered giving him the time of day or letting him have the chance to establish his own motives or personality. He was just an accessory to Vi.

I liked the writing style but in seemed less polished the further it went. (On one page, "even as" was repeated a dozen times.) It was as if the author gave up on editing halfway through.

I enjoyed the exciting chaos and the little rabbit trail which the romance led me down, but overall it wasn't the most cohesive or articulate book I've read. I would recommend it for anyone looking for a short, entertaining but slightly nonsensical read.
Profile Image for Melissa Taylor.
10 reviews4 followers
August 28, 2016
BRILLIANT. I consider myself an avid reader of quite a few genres so it's easy for me to get cynical about storylines, originality and (if I make it far enough) the ending. A storyline dealing with, at first glance, such a hot topic as gender expectations is extraordinarily risky but I'm thrilled and proud to say that the author exceeded my expectations by not only rising to the challenge but soaring over it. From the first word to the final word I was gripped. This is an intelligent book that I will happily reread.
Violet Bates, being a criminal with a hot temper isn't a character you immediately believe good things are going to happen for, even in Matrus, a world dominated by women. This is refreshing as it allows you freedom to get to know the character organically, then root for her success because you feel as though you know her personally. There is a touch of romance, but it's real, raw, and not pushed at all. The entire storyline is just incredible with so much mystery, twists, and turns. I found my cynical side completely curbed with this book as I haven't read anything as timeless, yet culturally relevant before. I'll leave this review with four words...

Wait until the end....
Profile Image for Lucie V..
998 reviews1,636 followers
February 15, 2022
✅ Original concept
✅ Action
🆗 Characters
🆗 Predictable plot
🆗 Pace
🆗 Romance

2.5 stars

I liked this book enough to continue with the next one, but it is nothing extraordinary. I like the concept : the society is divided by gender. The men rule Patrus on one side of a toxic river, and women rule Matrian on the other side. Whoever wishes to cross the river needs to accept and follow the rule of the society on the other side.

When Violet gets in trouble, she is offered a choice : either face the penalty for her actions, or travel to Patrus as a spy (but disguised as a newlywed housewife). Along the way, Violet realizes that not all Patrians are machos and mysoginist, some are even respectful and kind to women.

This story is fast-paced and full of action. It is a quick and easy-read, but the characters are unoriginal and most of the storyline (and romance) is quite predictable. There are some plot-twists and mysteries, that's why I liked this book enough to continue with this series, but overall it is definetly not the best dystopian book that I've read.

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Profile Image for Amanda.
160 reviews76 followers
September 7, 2016
Well I was not expecting to finish The Gender Game so soon since it's 640 pages buuut I guess I couldn't help myself, this was phenomenal! Great plot, interesting characters and full of suspense. I was kept right on my toes the entire time. It is a story about a world divided by a toxic river where one side is ruled by men, Patrus, and the other by women, Matrus. We have our main character Violet, a Matrus girl who is a complete bad-ass but accidentally gets involved in some incidents that gives her a criminal record. When one accident gives Violet the chance to chose life or death, her answer is simple. However, agreeing to live means she's going to have to make some sacrifices. This is where we are introduced to our next characters, Lee and Viggo. The story really focuses on these 3 main characters and we learn more about them along with their intentions as the story unfolds. Violet knows she can't trust anyone, but will she be give in and trust anyway? You'll have to read this great book to find out!
Profile Image for Rachel (The Rest Is Still Unwritten).
1,601 reviews203 followers
September 18, 2016
Thank you to Bella Forrest and Netgalley for providing me with an e-copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!

Find this review and more on my blog The Rest Is Still Unwritten!

The Gender Game is Bella Forrest’s latest release and is an absolutely brilliant and addictive dystopian read that will lure readers with its intense, intriguing world, strong protagonist and promising romance!

Nineteen year old Violet Bates lives in a world where a toxic river divides two different gender based societies; Matrus and Patrus. In Violet’s home of Matrus any violence is frowned upon and men have little to no social standing, while in Patrus women are expected to submit completely to their husbands and are considered little more than property. Having been caught attempting to help someone she loves escape Matrus in the past, Violet is already a prisoner when she commits two different acts of womanslaughter, an act punishable by death. Faced with choosing between death and an unexpected proposition, Violet finds herself agreeing to a mission that will see her forced to journey into the heart of Patrus. Living in Patrus sees Violet forced to go against her very nature but as Violet makes sacrifices in order to see out her mission she begins to consider the possibility of finding the one thing she never expected to find in Patrus; love.

Wow! What a read! When I first began reading The Gender Game, I had planned to read only a few chapters to bide some time, but quickly found myself devouring the book—in one sitting! And I very rarely finish books in one sitting. I loved The Gender Game; loved it. I adored the characters, the setting, the very feel of the novel---everything was just spot on!

Bella Forrest completely captured my attention with The Gender Game the moment I began reading. With descriptive writing, Forrest writes a really entertaining story in the vein of Divergent and The Hunger Games. I thought the world Bella Forrest created was so very clever and loved the part of it she allowed us to explore. I can only envision where she plans to take this series and what more she plans to do with it, especially considering the shocking ending of The Gender Game that readers most likely didn’t see coming.

The Gender Game followed a strong and personable main character. Violet has taken chances in the past for family and faced the consequences, but that doesn’t mean she’s shy about standing up for the underdogs, because as we quickly learn in the story, she’s not. Violet finds herself between a rock and a hard place when she agrees to go under cover in Patrus to get something back that was stolen from Matrus. This means Violet is forced to actually marry a double agent from Patrus and act the role of submissive wife in public—something that goes against her very nature. I genuinely liked Violet. She was a balanced individual who was easy to follow and had personality.

No story would be complete without a hint of romance and Bella Forrest gives us this in Viggo Croft. Ahhhh; Viggo, Viggo, Viggo. Viggo is a warden in Patrus and someone Violet and her husband set out to use as part of their mission. Viggo reminds me of Dimitri Belikov from The Vampire Academy series in the sense that he has shoulder length hair, wears a trench coat and is pretty damn bad-ass. Someone who has a past that makes him symphonize with and be intrigued by Violet, Viggo is a fierce fighter, but a quiet individual, whose relationship with Violet develops over time. Right now Forrest has only allowed the bare minimum to develop between Viggo and Violet, but I really enjoyed their chemistry and the connection they seemed to share.

Completely unassuming and with plenty of twists, turns and developments, The Gender Game is a wonderful read that races towards an explosive ending! I highly recommend this for anyone who enjoys a good dystopian tale and can’t wait for Bella Forrest to release the sequel The Gender Secret so I can once more follow Violet and get to know more about this imaginative world!
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Aure #SlavaUkrain  .
466 reviews100 followers
August 28, 2017

there's nothing more to say really. I was a bit skeptical at first due to the rating, but this totally worked for me!
I'm off to the second in the series!

Profile Image for Jacqueline's Reads.
2,753 reviews1,471 followers
December 16, 2017
3.5 Gender Role Stars.

I don’t even know where to begin with this review. This is an audio review, so excuse me as I shout-caps at you.

I purchased this book because I thought ZACHARY WEBBER was narrating with the female narrator, Rebecca Soler, that is a BIG FAT LIE.


Call me crazy but I purchase books based on the narrators. I do, I also find books based on the narrators. Is there a section that shows how much the narrator narrates because this isn’t the first time this has happened to me?!

Okay, I’m done ranting. Shout- caps done.

It should be noted that Rebecca is an excellent narrator. I love her voice, her voice transitions and her pace and her overall acting ability. I will of course start stalking her books. AND she sounds like a teenager, yes!

The Gender Game is an okay book and all of the reviews are correct. I still went with this book because I’m a HUGE fan of young adult books via audio. Funny thing is I purchased the kindle a long time ago and I couldn’t finish this book because it was so descriptive. Funny thing, I love descriptive books in audio format. Go figure right?

I need a big old picture spelled out to me as I listen because let’s face it, I sometimes get distracted when I listening to my books.

I also love the new cover, it really reflects the true heart of the book.

The Gender Game is a starter to a series. There’s a lot of back story and character development which is expected, but know the book is really slow.

Like really really really slow. I don’t find this a bad thing because I know with each book it will get better and better. This book is the starter course you know? You are getting your feet wet and you are kind of feeling out the rest of the meal.

I’m not sure if I had any favorites in the book. There are three players in this book, Violet, Viggo and Lee.

This is not a romance book or a love triangle book. The hint of romance in this series is the back-burner of the storyline. I know, waaaa, but it does you some good to read books with light romance. Shocking I know.

I will be honest and say I didn’t like Violet. I found her really immature and impulsive and easily swayed. Oh and let’s not forget selfish! I guess I can understand that since she’s lived most of her life fending for herself, but still, you want to like the main character right?
I was indifferent to Lee and Viggo, but it’s obvious which character you are suppose to like, even when that came true, I was still indifferent. I guess I was interested more in the storyline.

Overall, I liked the book, it wasn’t a wow book, but it’s a good book to listen to. I will more than likely do the audio version of this series, because I think if I had to read it, I would fall asleep, unless it starts to pick up.
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