Saturday, January 30, 2016

Book Review of Arena

A fast-paced and gripping near-future science fiction debut about the gritty world of competitive gaming...
Every week, Kali Ling fights to the death on national TV. 
She’s died hundreds of times. And it never gets easier...
The RAGE tournaments—the Virtual Gaming League’s elite competition where the best gamers in the world compete in a no-holds-barred fight to the digital death. Every bloody kill is broadcast to millions. Every player is a modern gladiator—leading a life of ultimate fame, responsible only for entertaining the masses.
And though their weapons and armor are digital, the pain is real.
Chosen to be the first female captain in RAGE tournament history, Kali Ling is at the top of the world—until one of her teammates overdoses. Now, she must confront the truth about the tournament. Because it is much more than a game—and even in the real world, not everything is as it seems.
The VGL hides dark secrets. And the only way to change the rules is to fight from the inside...

Expected publication: April 5th 2016 by Ace

My Review:

I was so excited to get an Advanced Reader Copy of this book from Net Galley. You might remember this book from the second year of Query Kombat. It's nickname was Tag, You're Dead! After Query Kombat, Holly went on to get an agent and a book deal and we are so happy for her!

I couldn't wait to dig into this story about virtual gaming. I want to say upfront that it wasn't what I expected. I keep waiting for the scenario where Kali has to diffuse a bomb in the virtual world that will carry over to the read world. Or stop some kind of creep inside the game. That's totally not what this book is about. It's about the players and how the game effects their lives. The pressures involved, like adjusting to the social stardom, the drugs, the sponsors, and the whole atmosphere of big name sports. That's actually a way cooler plot.

I found it so refreshing that Kali's problems handling her teammate's death don't just magically get better after a few kind words. Real life isn't like that. Problems can't be solved quickly. You can't snap your fingers and stop feeling guilt or using drugs as a substitute. Kali had real struggles and she didn't resolve those with one therapy session.

This would actually be a great role model book for younger women. That's not to say that it is preachy or sermonizes, because it doesn't. But it takes familiar problems and puts them in an intriguing setting and shows glitz and glamour aren't the answers. That you have to put in the hard work to find a balance in your life.

Oh, and there are great virtual game scenes too. I love how Kali pulled her estranged teammates together and made a true team out of them.

1 comment:

  1. I'm going to have to keep an eye out for this! I was in Query Kombat with Tag! You're Dead, and loved the concept! Very happy to see she got a book deal :)