Publication Date/Version: October 2009/Hardcover
Age Group: 14 and up
It's a fight to the death, on live TV, when a modern-day 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 the rules - and the GSA - can also work 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. To win her freedom, Lyn will enter the arena to face her father's murderer in mortal combat. And she'll do it even though she may be falling for him. For fans of The Hunger Games and Fight Club, Lise Haines's debut novel is a mesmerizing look at a world addicted to violence - a modern world that's disturbingly easy to imagine.
The concept of this book is what caught my attention right away, gladiators fighting to the death on live TV. It's a fairly new concept that doesn't seem to be extremely well chartered, at least in nothing I've read. Based on the material, I didn't expect to feel anything for Lyn, or for Uber, the man she must marry. I figured, that based on the GSA rules, everyone was pretty much brainwashed into acting and doing what they do. But I was wrong.
Girl in the Arena actually offered a lot of emotion from both Lyn and Uber, and even Tommy, Lyn's seventh father. Lyn and Uber's relationship was a strange one, but it wasn't entirely unbelievable. I actually found myself liking Uber a lot, even though he did kill Tommy. Tommy was also a great character. He wasn't very affectionate, but he showed his love in his own way. The one character I didn't like was Lyn's mother, Allison. She was so wrappep up in the Glad games that sometimes I just wanted to smack her with my book. She never seemed to think about what was really right for her daughter, only what the GSA thought was best.
The storyline itself was entertaining, not in a funny way, but a hold-you-all-the-way-through way. I mean, it's either fight to the death or marry your father's murderer. How can that not be a good plot? Lise Haines is definitely off to a good start and I'm excited to see how she progresses as a writer. I look forward to reading more.
One quick note, which I'm really confused about. The ARC copy I have is 324 pages long, but the back cover says that the hardcover version will be 384 pages. I'm not really sure how they're going to add 60 extra pages. Maybe there will be more storyline? No clue. Just thought I'd let everyone know.
Overall: Girl in the Arena was a good debut young adult novel, offering both romance and lots of action.
My Advice: Either buy a copy or borrow it from the library. I plan on doing so, just to figure out why there's going to be an extra 60 pages.