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Monday, October 17, 2016

Go Virtual or Go Home! Arena Puts the Spotlight on Virtual Gaming (Review)

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...
Arena
Arena Series #1
Holly Jennings
Pub Date: 11/1/16
Publisher: Ace Books
Genre: Science Fiction
Amazon | B&N


Holly Jennings' debut novel, Arena weaves Taoist philosophy into a hard hitting futuristic story that puts the spotlight on the world of virtual gaming. It will leave readers dying to jump right into the sequel, Gauntlet!

Arena is a fun novel with a serious edge that takes readers to the year 2054. Gamers are the new sports superstars as they compete in various full immersion virtual games from golf to first-person shooter RPGs, and everything in between. Kali Ling is the confident, strong heroine readers love to read about. She's girl who seems to have life all figured out until the lines between reality and the virtual world blur. When her team, Defiance, loses a teammate to a drug overdose in the midst of a life changing tournament Kali must come to terms with the dark reality of the gaming industry. Kali and the other members of Defiance, including the newest member Rooke, must learn to work together as a team if they hope to advance their careers.

This story has depth that I was not expecting. The complexity of the story is balanced with hard-hitting topics like addiction, substance abuse, and mental health. Though the main character is 20 years old, I would recommend Arena for a more mature audience. The action is somewhat graphic and not suitable to the younger readers. Many women who read this story will see themselves reflected in Kali. She may consider herself just a battle-hardened warrior, but she is also the typical young woman who is struggling to create a name for herself while standing against the demands of society. Readers will fall head over heels for her confidence and determination to change the rules of the game. Jennings takes serious concepts and weaves them seamlessly into her plot so that you feel the significance of the characters' feelings and actions. The effort to put a positive spin on a dark situation can sometimes come across as preachy, but Jennings masterfully puts hope on the pages of Kali's story.

Arena is the start of a series with an original voice that will take readers to the next level. Warning: this stand out novel may have you dusting off the old Nintendo and Super Mario Bros. system!

*eGalley provided in exchange for an honest review*

Get ready for the sequel: Gauntlet (APR 4, 2017)







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