Dystopia, Fantasy, Science Fiction, Young Adult

Review: The Gender Secret | The Gender Game Series by Bella Forrest

GENDER SECRETGliding over the treacherous Green in a shaky aircraft that she has no idea how to land, Violet Bates is still in shock. The harrowing events of the previous night play over in her mind as she asks herself question after question. 

Why did Lee Desmond Bertrand behave the way he did? 

What is the truth about the mysterious silver egg stowed beneath her seat? 

What happened to Viggo and where is her brother? Is either of them still alive?

When Violet manages to reach the toxic ground alive, she has landed in a world of unimaginable danger. She has barely time to catch her breath before she is sucked into a perilous journey at breakneck speed – to uncover secrets guarded for centuries and find the only two people that matter.

3 Stars

Young Adult | Fantasy | Dystopian | Science Fiction

Well tits. We are back. I can’t help it guys, The Gender Game left me in a bit of a tizzy of questions I had to continue. Though I am not sure if that is a good thing of bad just yet. What can I say though first, to actually help understand my rating – because I seem very flip floppy, don’t I? I do like this series, at least in a certain way yet there is just so much that I dislike. For one, it shouldn’t surprise me the massive foreshadowing that lurks around constantly, it aids such huge predictable scenarios with each page turning. Secondly, why is it that we have to go about sixty plus percent before the book starts actually becoming exciting? Don’t get me wrong, I like a good slow build, but some things do not need to be drawn out in such an unnecessary fashion and The Gender Secret is a fine example of this. 

So to be fair, I cannot see myself going higher than my beautiful three, and yet still waiting to be enthralled to go higher and shatteringly so, there is a part of me that is enjoying bits, enough to keep it from dropping lower. At least for now…

So lets dive in? Shall we.

First off, I was intrigued to see that this was told now by Violent… oh I mean, Violet and Viggo. Yep, that’s right, I finally get to see what is in the mind of one of the only characters I actually enjoyed – Viggo. This is definitely a great writing technique to add to a story, that is for sure, at least in my opinion, most times a reader cannot resist a good duel perspective. But Forrest lets me down like a deflated boner. Right off the bat of Viggo’s entrance I am left unmoved and rather pique. There is the ‘wonder if Violet is safe, she might be dead’ to the ‘how could Violet do this to me’ and then upon finally seeing her ‘Violet is so beautiful-ugh no mustn’t think of her this way after what she did to me’ is all that runs through his mind. Very singular. And this baffles me because I feel like Viggo could have been such a huge save for the series, expecting him to be more entertaining, better perspective of the two, but yet it still overflowed with the bewilderment of his conflicting feelings for Violet. I wanted to be more of a restriction with him, especially finally realizing that he was the escape goat for Lee’s ultimate plan to which Violet was a willing partner, at least to some degrees. And don’t get me wrong, Violet’s inner monologue is no different, but she annoys me for a multitude more reasons.

On top of this constant love monologue of inner swoonage, I still cannot get over how naive, cynical and rather selfishly stupid Violet is as a character. Again, there is simply no growth there. I need something from her, I really do. As much as I cling to wanting to enjoy her reckless aggressive attitude, the huge part of me just cannot connect with her character even just a bit. She is annoying. 

Honesty is an undervalued commodity. Keeping secrets is the cancer that is slowly killing Matrus and Patrus. Given enough time, and lies, both places would fail, and the last vestiges of humanity would disappear from this Earth.

And not only did some old faces reappear, there was a new threat that took this already overloaded plot into a new level of whoa. And not entirely bad, but again, not really good. I think a lot of the foreshadowing really lies with the Twins of the now dead Matrus Queen. There was a bit of a crazy sociopath out play as well, something that I think was deviously perfect and yet the build of these was flawed, mostly because this seems to be Forrest’s favorite character dynamic. I can’t describe it without massive spoilage, but I did like the newer additions to the villain pool, it continues to grow in massive proportions, still leading me to wonder who or what is truly the actual villain. There is that level of predictability, I know – or at least I think I know, who it is but alas, so much going on that I am hoping it will leave me completely blindsided. 

Part of me really enjoyed a lot of the underlining messages, surprisingly a huge part of me actually enjoyed the deep down brutality of the messages. I am a huge enthusiast when it comes to political intrigue in dystopian genres. To me, it is the biggest part of the world building. I can actually admit that the deafening rift between what will ultimately restart a new civil war between Patrus and Matrus really was decently evolved, especially considering the root resolution both play into the hatred.

When society believes that an eye for an eye is acceptable, eventually everyone will go blind.

Alas a couple things I can say that did seem to get a little better – the world building. Now don’t go jumping for the high heavens just yet, I said it got better, not that it was blow me away amazing. Because it was just that, it was better. We finally got to dive into the toxic forest, more additives to the actual deathly creatures that lurk. Toxic insects were definitely interesting. Then the random facility in the middle of the green, this was definitely a major plus in hindsight of the building plot execution. Massive foreshadowing of what was really to come was literally lurking around every corner as Viggo and Violet explored. And yay, I actually enjoyed majority of thos points, it was fun, spooky – little lack luster here and there but all in all, kind of interesting. 

Overall, I cannot hide my disappoint yet still cannot seem to break away from this series. I will obviously continue. There are in fact some (I use this loosely mind you…) decent plot developments, twists, intriguing enough characters (regardless of the inner romantic monologues) with semi-decent development, so it isn’t a complete waste of my life. Not just yet anyways. I am disappointed mostly because I feel that there is so much more potential that hasn’t even been scratched with this type of storyline, the characters are lack luster and the foreshadowing leaves very little to be surprised as the more predictable scenarios play out on every page. Plus multiple situations I felt the book could have done away with… Nonetheless, I am here for the long haul I suppose, especially considering there was yet another cliffhanger grabbed me at the end, enough to say: Well crap, now I have to read book three… 

See you there? Have I mentioned how amazing audiobooks are at this moment, because they are genius for series like these. Just saying. 

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