This book caught my eye immediately when I was browsing Amazon (if you missed my post last week I discovered that Amazon Prime users get free books!). A dystopian YA focused on gender politics? Obviously, I was sold straight away. I was hoping for an interesting, original dystopia from a feminist perspective, and couldn’t wait to get started. Whilst it didn’t live up to my expectations, it was still a fairly decent read.
The Gender Game takes place in the future where the world has been separated into two countries: the male dominated Patrus, and the female dominated Matrus. On Patrus, women have no rights, and are treated like possessions by their husbands and society. In Matrus, the men fair a little better, although they don’t have as many rights as their wives, they are still given some freedoms. I was immediately interested in this concept and would have loved to have spent more time exploring how the division happened and how it operates. Whilst the origin of the two countries was mentioned, it was very briefly and in passing, so the author didn’t really take full advantage of the world they had built.
Our main character is Violet, a teenager who has spent most of her life in juvenile detention centres in Matrus after trying to help her little brother flee to Patrus. After she accidentally kills someone, she is given one last chance to save herself, by going undercover in Patrus to carry out a secret mission on behalf of the Queen of Matrus. To do this she is given a new identity and marries Ian, a fellow spy for Matrus. Sounds fairly exciting, doesn’t it? Unfortunately, I don’t think it lived up to its potential. There isn’t much actual spying/undercover work, with the main plot focusing on a forced romance between Violet and Viggo, a cage fighting loner who works with Ian. I was hoping for a badass female character ruining the patriarchal society from the inside, but instead mainly got a lot of cage fighting and motorbike riding. I think a more interesting concept would have been if Violet was to go undercover by marrying a normal
I was hoping for a badass female character ruining the patriarchal society from the inside, but instead mainly got a lot of cage fighting and motorbike riding. I think a more interesting concept would have been if Violet was to go undercover by marrying a normal Patrus man who knew nothing about the mission. That would have allowed the differences between the countries and genders to be explored, but instead, the scenes between Violet and Lee were a bit boring.
I think my biggest issue with The Gender Games was the wasted potential. Like I said in the intro, it was still a pretty decent book, it just didn’t live up to my expectations. Luckily it was one of the books I got for free on Amazon, so it’s not like I lost money on it. The book does end on a cliffhanger and there is a second book in the series, but I don’t think I’ll be picking it up.