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  • ARC Review: Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia
  • ARC Review: The Secrets We Keep by Trisha Leaver
  • Review: A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas
  • Review: Karmic Hearts by Jhing Bautista
  • Review: The Conspiration of the Universe by Kenneth Olanday

Monday, May 30, 2011

Review: Girl In The Arena by Lise Haines

You know when you have a book you've been waiting to read for a long time and when you finally get to reading it, you feel conflicted with a lot of things after you have finished? That about sums up what I feel about this book.

Title: Girl In The Arena by Lise Haines
Pages: 336
Release Date: September 14th 2010
Published by: Bloomsbury USA
Source: Borrowed
Buy: Amazon | Book Depository

Summary (from Goodreads):

It’s a fight to the death—on live TV—when a gladiator’s daughter steps into the arena

Lyn is a neo-gladiator’s daughter, through and through. Her mother has made a career out of marrying into the high-profile world of televised blood sport, and the rules of the Gladiator Sports Association are second nature to their family. Always lend ineffable confidence to the gladiator. Remind him constantly of his victories. And most importantly: Never leave the stadium when your father is dying. The rules help the family survive, but rules—and the GSA—can also turn against you. When a gifted young fighter kills Lyn’s seventh father, he also captures Lyn’s dowry bracelet, which means she must marry him... For fans of The Hunger Games and Fight Club, Lise Haines’ debut novel is a mesmerizing look at a world addicted to violence—a modern world that’s disturbingly easy to imagine.

Lyn's mother, Allison, has made a career in marrying Gladiators. She's basically a celebrity for having seven Gladiator fathers. Think of Russel Crow's movie set in modern times. Men under contract to fight for Caesar's, who's a lot controlling and cunning than the government. So when Lyn's seventh father, Tommy, died in the arena, it also brought the end to a lot of things in Lyn's life. According to the rules set for GLAD wives, her mother, Allison, can only marry seven times. And what was meant as a simple gesture of giving Lyn's dowry bracelet as a symbol of luck to her father created more problems when it was claimed by the fighter who killed him. And according to GLAD rules, whoever gets her dowry bracelet gets to marry Lyn.

One of the winning points in this novel is how detailed the Gladiator world was. Lise Haines was very specific down to the last detail, from the GLAD's history down to what was currently happening in the world of Gladiators. Think of UFC, WWE and other combat sports, only more popular, more viral, and more twisted. It's a unique culture, a different way of life, sometimes frowned upon by other people, but it was Lyn's life.

Lyn is a girl who wants to break free of such life. She doesn't want to end up like her mother, whose life revolved around marrying and being a widow. There's nothing to fall back on with that life, and Lyn wants something else for herself, away from the paparazzi, from the scrutinizing eyes of everyone, and away from Caesar's. I wouldn't blame her for wanting to have something better, losing seven fathers to a sport that wasn't kind to them in any way. It was about the money and nothing else. I can't say that Lyn is a character that you will instantly like, but she's painfully honest, and she loves her brother so much.

Uber is the gladiator who killed Lyn's 7th father, and the one who caught her dowry bracelet. I love just how tender and shy Uber is, despite his size and the fact that he killed Lyn's father. He's the kind of guy who's tough in the outside but one who's sensitive and naturally nice.

I am a bit confused with the romance in this book because at times I get so lost in Lyn's own thoughts and problems that any romantic possibilities seem to be so far fetched. Then Uber comes and I get lost in her denial of any possible romantic feelings for him but she shows signs of liking him in a blink. The romance felt hurried and very sporadic, and if it was the aim of the author to inject it into the story, it wasn't well developed.

I thought the book will be true to the title of being a "Girl In The Arena" because that was what was Lyn was striving for, but in the end I think the plot comes up short. Lyn spends a lot of time to make herself strong, but instead of fighting head-on she created an "avatar", a fake her! Though she did manage to get to "fight" in the arena, the only thing she did was hurt people than make things better for everyone. I think the battle she fought was done more outside the arena, but there's no doubt that what Lyn did takes guts.

What redeemed this book for me was the hard truths laced in the Gladiator culture. The reason why Allison became who she was well explained and explored, and it was one of the most heart-breaking parts of the book. The horrors that the gladiators go through for such a violent sport felt very realistic.

Overall, I enjoyed reading this book. Though some parts felt underdeveloped and lacking, some parts did make up for what the others lack. My curiosity was satisfied enough that I was able to finish reading this book. If you want to read a modern day story about Gladiators, I suggest you grab a copy of this book!

My rating

Content (plot, story flow, character):

Okay: Liked, but The Goddess demands more!

Book Cover:
Gorgeous cover! If that doesn't convey the Gladiator aspect of the book I dunno what will!

Yes - The Goddess Approves!


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