Review: Arena by Holly Jennings

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Goodreads Summary:

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… 

**I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review**

My Review

Arena grabbed my attention the moment I read the plot summary, a virtual world based novel? Sign me up! Arena definitely brought its own twist to dystopia.

In the year 2054 virtual gaming tournaments are as popular on TV as the Superbowl!Kali happens to be one of the latest and most famous rising female player! However, being  a famous gamer is not all that it seems. When a player becomes so engrossed in the virtual world they easily lose track of reality and usually take to doing drugs in order to cope with the brutal truths of the real world. Not to mention, they are also forced to succumb to the rules and regulations of the gaming world that involve pleasing their sponsors no matter the cost in order to remain funded throughout the tournament. After Kali’s team is defeated in one of the brackets, they are more than determined to win the rest of the rounds in order to become champions of the games.

Kali was a killer female lead (pun intended), she was witty, headstrong, didn’t take no for an answer and a genuine badass! Her mail counterpart: Rooke wasn’t too bad either! He was great support for her, but definitely more of a side character in the story. Although this book was for the most part fast paced, it didn’t contain nearly as much “gaming time” as I thought it would. I expected there to be a lot of fighting and virtual world stuff, but that wasn’t really the focus. In fact, the focus/premise was a very serious one that dealt with drug addiction and bringing attention to that in the face of stardom. So yeah definitely a stretch from what the book claims to be about. Gotta say, I was a little disappointed in that area. I feel like I missed out on the real action of the story, it was kind of just pushed to the background. Don’t get me wrong, I liked the book, it just wasn’t what I was expecting.

If you’re looking for a new dystopian novel with a side of psychological depth, then Arena is the book for you! It comes out April 5th. Pre-order it on Amazon here!

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