Death is not something to be cheated. It’s simply the end of a journey. The best thing we can do is move on, live the best life we can, and always remember them and everything they taught us.

Title: Arena

Author: Holly Jennings

Series: Arena # 1

Publication: November 1st 2016 by Ace Books

Pages: 400

Source: Publisher in exchange for a honest review

Summary from Goodreads:

The RAGE tournaments the Virtual Gaming League s elite competition where the best gamers in the world compete in a fight to the digital death. Every kill is broadcast to millions. Every player leads 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 s stuck trying to work with a hostile new teammate who s far more distracting than he should be.
Between internal tensions and external pressures, Kali is on the brink of breaking. To change her life, she ll need to change the game. And the only way to revolutionize an industry as shadowy as the VGL is to fight from the inside.

My Thoughts:

I was very pleasantly surprised by this book. In all honesty, despite my excitement, I sort of put off reading it because I was afraid it would be a mash up of Divergent simulations and The Hunger Games. However, Arena completely proved me wrong.

I wasn’t expecting to enjoy Arena as much as I actually did. It was exciting, fun, entertaining, and unique in ways I thought would be lacking. There were interesting characters, wonderful relationships, and a whole lot of action. Arena was a treat to read in so many ways, perfect for the upswing after just finishing finals.

Kali, our main character, was very intriguing to me. She wasn’t perfect, she wasn’t a chosen one that wanted to make  a difference. She reveled in the RAGE tournaments, she wanted to win, she wanted the fame – but she didn’t want the contract that came with it. I thought this part of her character was perhaps the most compelling. She wanted to play the game, which is more than most dystopian heroines, however, she wanted to play it her way. She was brave, fearless, confident, but also she was just a girl. That balance is something very difficult to achieve, and I think Jennings handled it beautifully.

My favorite part of this book was the world it was set it. I love video games, my dad loves video games. Video games are a huge part of my life, but in this book, video games basically rule the world. Gamers are celebrities – I mean, full fledged professional athletes. Personally, I adored this take on the entertainment industry. It’s not pretty, I’m not saying it’s something to strive for or anything like that – the society was pretty horrible. However, the fact that the gamers were looked up to was awesome. They had the power of the masses. It was such a twist on how we usually look at this sort of thing, and it was amazing. The world building really helped in this aspect. This takes place in the future, not too far off – it’s a reality we can all probably see hanging over the future what with the new VR games and such. Everything looks the same beyond some updates. Los Angeles is still Los Angeles, ect. Having that grounding force in a very alien-esque atmosphere made for an intoxicating read.

Arena is a book packed with action. If you like watching Spartacus, Game of Thrones, or anything of the like, this is the book for you. It’s a mystery wrapped in high tech glitz and glamour. It will pull you in, drag you around, and kick you while you’re down. Arena showcases a powerhouse of a main character whom you might not like but you’ll root for anyway. I definitely recommend giving it  a try.



Barnes & Noble


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