Dystopia, Fantasy, Science Fiction, Young Adult

Review: THE GENDER GAME | Gender Game Series by Bella Forrest

GENDERGAMEFor 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…

3 Stars

Young Adult | Fantasy | Dystopian | Science Fiction

True to my word, I said I would read more Young Adult. True to my word, I said I would read more Science Fiction. Though, I am not entirely sure how I feel. I struggled with the rating a lot, and I do mean A LOT. To be fair, the synopsis sounds riveting, I absolutely loved the idea of the world, unfortunately I will be the first to admit that every time I tried to pick up the THE GENDER GAME, I was bored within the first chapter, so I tried it again, only this time – Audiobook. Was there an improvement, this is debatable, but I will say I do love a good voice actor with a book, so that was a plus.

According to our history books, centuries ago, Matrus and Patrus didn’t even exist. They were one group of people, one band of survivors of the Last War that toxified vast swathes of the great land once known as America.

So diving in, THE GENDER GAME had a lot working for it. There was the flawed heroine, who incidentally was a badass, or at least appears to be. Right off the jump Violet is something, oh boy is she something. That is about all I can say for her… sorry. I know, as a female I should be connecting with Violet, I should find her rebellious delinquency habits fun, entertaining, almost empowering but unfortunately the only connection I felt towards her character was absolute annoyance. I love a violent, aggression as much as the next reader, but something about Violet’s overly angry, emotionless deterred personality rubbed me the wrong way from the start. And yes, to be fair, her aggression isn’t unwarranted, nor unjust considering her past but yet her lack of remorse, her willingness to put herself in harms way constantly just stupid; even more to this, at points she was meant to be this independent heroine, and yet her lack of responsibility landed her in many ways the damsel – If I were the hero, she would have been voted off the island long ago. I am also a little perplexed by her previous charges for ‘wommanslaughter’ due to murdering another with a fork and now at this new prison, killing another with someone’s braces?! Yep, teeth braces my friends. I mean, I know this is dystopian, but it just felt weird. I get it though, in prison they use toothbrushes, so I suppose it isn’t so strange – but it is.

This is where things start to, at least for me, get even more of a tizzy cluster. It all revolves around one main issue I had, plot holes. Oh the holes are so big. And this point is just one of the many few – Because Violet is so…. psychotic, the Queen of Matrus wants to offer a special mission to Violet, and in exchange she will get so see her brother and all her crimes will be a forgive and forget. What I am still trying to decide, even after the end of the book, so maybe something more to explain because I have theories, but why? Why Violet? At no point is there ever confirmation on what the actual fuck is going on and why. Maybe I missed something other than the ramblings of Violet’s stupid inner monologue…. but we digress.

So what is this mission? Violet is to marry a man from Patrus, live there under this guise, then steal this egg that was previously stolen from Matrus. Lots of he said, she said if you ask me – get it? Bah, I crack myself up. But yeah, this is what it revolves around, what absolute kills me even more with the plot and Violet as a character is her actions from agreeing to this mission and her execution. From the moment she steps foot in Patrus she is still her rebellious, aggressive personality and for no reason at all. She is constantly arguing and fighting, I would have thought she would have been more receptive of the situation, considering her rewards at stake. But even when she is faced with multiple situations within Patrus, being a woman alone in that city without her husband, she is constantly chest pounding to measure her dick. Talk about subtle mission…. I just do not understand her willingness between takes, the development of her character within the main plot line just does not fit. 

On top of this, there was some predictability to these plot developments. I could honestly from the moment Lee and Viggo were introduced, I know exactly where the love interest was going to develop. Though it was predictable, I will say at least Forrest made this dynamic a little more interesting. So as much as I loathed Violet, I am curious how things will develop in the future, especially now that I know there is no love triangle, at least for now and dear all that is holy, I hope never is, the plot cannot take much more butchery. But seriously, without saying who though I am sure everyone knows, I rather liked both Viggo and Lee. Viggo was the silent broody type, horrible past, unjustified present, unknowing future – he has the broody self desperation now perfection. Lee on the other hand is, well he is interesting. It took a bit to get a read on him, for the longest while he appeared very one-dimensional but once more developed towards the story line he was more, and I liked it. I liked how secretive he was, I had a huge feeling he was a budding sociopath and it made my heart tingle in a tizzy. 

I didn’t need a man in my life—not even a Matrian male—and from all that I’d been told by my mother before she died, I was better off without one anyway. Better to remain always self-reliant. Self-reliance means you’re in control. Don’t ever think you need a man for happiness.

There is also a huge lack of world building. I know, how can I say this when it physically says it in the synopsis, Matrus is for the ‘she-man’ world and Patrus and the ‘he-man’ world (channeling my inner Little Rascals fangirl), what world building could I possibly need? Oh a lot, this is science fiction, dystopian world after all, I live for the details. But honestly there were so many plains that should have been explained. The prisons I felt were mutely developed, the gym and the outings between Violet and Viggo or Lee, all very subtle explanations. Even the moment when Violet was kidnapped, there was such a beautiful moment to discover the area, and I felt it was all about who was saving Violet; how he smelled, felt, the safety feeling – and I get it, I do, but come on, THE WORLD BUILDING, I need it. Another pivotal point that was my breaking point when I realized very little, if any world building would be introduced was ‘The Green’, oh the deliciously toxic forest. And yet again, there was actually no deviation from the current plot to actually explore the why, how and what next of this forbidden and deathly area. 

Honestly too, the only reason I did not go to two stars, because frankly my furry friends, this almost made it there, it was the ending. About seventy percent into the book, obviously closer and closer to the ending, it got better. If I had been physically reading the book, I might have been skimming pages, but alas, I am happy once I got more deep dive in the drama that was unfolding. Though I still have huge questions, I fear that the plot holes may never get filled, but nonetheless the ending made up for a lot. I knew the tension filled moments between Viggo and Violet would occur, and I knew without any doubt, Violet would throw herself in harms way again and again. I was expecting a twist with Lee, only because the chemistry and connection was not there, I knew there had to be a pseudo-antagonist who would flip the script all for the ploy of a ‘villain’ attribute. But even with this, the action rather spoke for itself. It was actually pretty edge of your seat, it was just sad that it took well over half the book to get to this pivotal moment of excitement. 

Obviously I will be continuing, at least I know the series is over. Again I say, I think the voice actor reading the book made it more better so that is a plus… I also kind of curious as to see where everything pains…-oh I mean pans out from here, there have been countless deaths, two very significant to the public, still questions looming about Violet’s brother, and where is Viggo damnit? And what the ever crap was the egg? I suppose here we go, off to book THE GENDER SECRET. 

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