THE GENDER GAME by Bella Forrest
Verdict: Improves along the way.
Two sides of the river, each ruled by a different gender, both on the cusp of war. When Violet accidentally commits womanslaughter, she's given one last chance at life - to cross the river to the male dominated state where woman's rights are suppressed, and steal back a mysterious egg that contains her country's secrets.
I almost wrote this off early as another not-as-good-as-the-Hunger-Games dystopian book. The writing style is quite flat and sometimes overly explanatory. Some of the main characters, like Lee, lack personality, and there was a lot of Q&A dolled out by a dull character in said flat tone. The concept also seemed reliant on the reader not caring too much about why a delinquent who has killed two women by accident is the only one right for a secret mission. However, the pace and world building seemed reasonable though, so I was set to offer it three stars.
But it got better.
Unlike Lee, Viggo is an interesting character. He's complex and sometimes even perplexing, and the way he tries to suss out Violet had me reading on eagerly. The story started to take a different turn than I had expected, and I started to really enjoy the way the story unfolded. The writing was still flat, but that didn't matter. It wasn't confusing or too hinderous, and it's not the beauty of this story. The beauty is in the story itself.
Violet is an okay narrator. Sometimes I found she lacked emotion, especially in the beginning, but she's a strong fighter with a good moral compass. She has a tendency to act first and worry later which makes her terrible for the mission at hand but excellent for action scenes.
I have to admit, I felt uncomfortable at first reading someone's fiction of woman's rights being suppressed when this is a reality for some countries, but I don't think the author intends the story to be a political statement. It doesn't consider the LBGT community, or tackle any big issues. It's just a story of learning to love against society's prejudices. I can't get angry at what it's not, but if you're expecting it to be these things then perhaps this isn't the book for you.
It ends on a high, with book two ready to start right away. I think I'll probably continue with this series when I need a light and fast read.
Source: Kindle lending library.