Thursday, July 6, 2017

Review: Arena

Arena By Holly Jennings
Publisher: Ace Books
Release Date: November 1st, 2016
Format: Paperback, 400 pages
Source: Blogging For Books*Summary Via GoodReads

My Rating: ★★

Goodreads ★ Amazon ★ B&N ★ TBD
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 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.
I saw another book blogger review this book when the sequel came out, and I was super interested in it. So when I got the opportunity to read this book in exchange for my review I jumped at it. I've been a gamer pretty much my whole life, but I kind of left the gaming world for a few years, now I play all the time, so this was the perfect book for me to read!

One thing I adored about this novel was all the subtle video game references, like the fact that the drug gamers take to forget about being in the real world is called "HP" as in "Hit Points". That made me chuckle a lot. When we are first introduced to HP, before I even got to the sentence that said they look like "Dr. Mario Pills" I was thinking, "Like Dr. Mario??" then I got to the next sentence and laughed for way too long. I loved the old school references, and I loved that Kali wants to change the games and make it fun for her teammates again so they get together to talk about their favorite games and to play "classic games." I loved that!

Kali was not a really likable character at first. She has a lot of anger, she's stubborn and she just thinks she knows everything. It's clear that she is still reeling over her teammate's overdose and is not handling it well. I like how this novel handles grief and how people lose themselves in it. I was glad that we actually got to see Kali find her way out of it, and I liked that she sought help and spoke to someone about her issues. She had problems, but she wanted to change and I thought that was a great message.

There is a little bit of romance in this novel, and I liked that it was a slow burn that you weren't sure if the two actually really liked each other! I prefer that over insta-love. I enjoyed that they got to know each other on a deeper level before exploring their relationship further.

I was expecting this novel to be young adult for some reason, so I was a little surprised when I started it and there was sex, drugs and swearing! It was actually a nice reprieve from other books I've been reading. There is another book after this one, but I was pretty satisfied with this ending that I think this book stands well on its own. Although, I definitely am going to read Gauntlet!

If you are a gamer like me, I think you will really enjoy this book. I also think fans of Ernest Cline's novels or Ender's Game will like this one a lot. When I was reading this one, I actually stopped for awhile and started playing Oblivion again because the game they play in this book gave me mad Elder Scrolls feels! It reminded of the quests in Oblivion where you have to fight in the Arena and become The Grand Champion. It really made me love this book a lot!

*I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

Happy Reads Everyone!