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Thursday, January 7, 2010

Book Review: Girl in the Arena by Lise Haines

Reading level: Young Adult
Hardcover: 336 Pages
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Children's Books: (October 13, 2009)

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.

REVIEW: Imagine a dystopian world where modern day gladiators fight to death in front of desensitized audiences who thirst for blood. This is the neo-gladiator world of Lise Haine’s Girl in the Arena. Lyn is a teenager who has grown up in the high profile world of televised blood for sport. Her mother has married seven different gladiators, all killed in the arena in front of her eyes. Lyn knows the rules. She must marry the young fighter who killed her last father – Tommy, but Lyn wants more than what that life can offer. She yearns for her family's freedom, and so, Lyn hatches her own plan to gain independence from the Gladiator Sports Association once and for all.

Reading this novel, I desperately wanted Lyn to break away from this corrupt and morally questionable organization that she had been forced to grow up within. As strange as it may seem, I could see this gladiator blood sport phenomenon really happening. Our modern world seems just a few steps shy from evolving into the ultra violent society of Girl in the Arena, where killing and reality television have been taken to a whole new frightening level. And that, not the actual bloodshed, was the most frightening, thought provoking aspect of the novel for me. Girl in the Arena makes you reflect on our own society and just how much we are influenced and manipulated by the media in our daily lives.

The quiet moments punctuated with friendship and Lyn's honest reflection on her life and family were my favorite aspects of this book. I loved the way she refused to fall into the trappings of the society she had been born into and perpetuate it by following down the path of her mother Allison. Lyn’s interactions with her brother Thad, best friend Mark, and even her father’s killer Uber rang with honesty and believability for me. I did, however, expect there to be more actual events within the arena, especially when considering the cover and description. I was also surprised by the ending and left wishing there was more closure, but overall I enjoyed Girl in the Arena and look forward to more of Haine’s novels.

Purchase Girl in the Arena HERE.

Side note- I don't know who these guys are, but their trailer made me put Girl in the Arena at the top of my reading pile! Watch out: This little ditty is highly addictive, and will get stuck in your head for days on end!

Lise Haines is Writer in Residence at Emerson College, has held a Briggs-Copeland lectureship at Harvard, and was a finalist for the PEN Nelson Algren Award and the Paterson Fiction Prize. She is the author of two adult novels, In My Sister’s Country and Small Acts of Sex and Electricity, as well as many essays and short stories. Girl in the Arena is her first work for young adults. She lives in the Boston area.


Rhiannon Hart said...

I'm interested by the media manipulation aspect. Glad you liked this one, I'll have to pick it up.

Michelle said...

I Agree! The trailer just kills me. It was too funny and very catchy. Also, I loved Lyn's interactions with her family. She was so mature and interesting to me.

The Book Owl said...

Great review. I agree completely with you about the "quiet moments." Those are really what made the book for me. Love the trailer!

choco (In Which a Girl Reads) said...

Awesome review, I agree with you on the expecting more events in the arena--the cover and the blurb were a bit misleading in that case.

But I loved the social commentary aspect and I agree the interactions were great!

April said...

I honestly can't wait to read this one!

Great review, I could definitely see something like this happening in the media as well.

Also, love that you posted the trailer, because as soon as I read the title, I started singing the song from the trailer, ha ha.

Arya said...

I loved that book! Dang, that video is horrid! lol

Nikki @ Bookizzle said...

Your review piqued my interest even more! It definitely sounds like a book that I'd really be interested in. Thanks for sharing!

brizmus said...

So scary that you say that it seems like our modern world could easily turn into that.
I like books that really make you reflect on reality - I'm very interested in this book!

Juju at Tales of Whimsy.com said...

FAB review :)

Kate said...

I have been dying to read this novel, and the video makes me want to read it even more. Hilarious video!

Tammy said...

The trailer made me LOL thanks for the early morning smile!
Your review was great-I'm definatly adding it to my TBR pile. Thanks.

Patty said...

I can not *repeat can not* wait to read this book. It just sounds so amazing. Great review!

Kristen said...

So, I've seen the video.. well known about it but never watched it... because well I don't know why...

But, now that I've read it. I watched it and laughed my behind off. They are hilarious! <3ed the book and since I didn't expect that much fighting, it was good for me.