Saturday, February 19, 2011

Book Review: Girl in the Arena by Lise Haines

Girl in the Arena by Lise Haines
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Children's Books
Publication date: October 2009
ISBN: 9781599905211
Source: Library

Girl in the Arena 

Lyn is the daughter of neo-gladiators and a "glad wife."  Her life is governed by the rules of the Gladiator Sports Association.  This becomes even more apparent when her father is killed in the arena by a young man who takes her dowry bracelet and her freedom.  That act means that she must marry him.  But when Lyn decides to take matters into her own hands, she must face a rabid violence-loving crowd in addition to the ruthless GSA.  Can she survive and retain her freedom?

Things I Liked:
I like the way it pokes fun at the commercialized and televised world we live in.  It's quite good (not that I have personal experience or anything) at showing life as a celebrity and how it is to live in the spotlight and have everything you do be visible and talked about.  It was also an interesting commentary on our violent culture and what we find acceptable.  And when the action does happen, it's excellent.  Here is one of the interesting quotes about trying to be average:

At my fast-food nation job, it's really hot and you have to lift heavy boxes of frozen food substance and you get spattered with sizzling grease.  But you have this uniform and this cap and you're just one of the underpaid and completely marginalized jerks like everyone else and no one asks if you come from seven types of men - you just fry and salt and squirt and slap and wrap and bag. p 32
Things I Didn't Like:
I just wasn't that interested in the story, I think.  Aside from the intriguing idea of neo-gladiator sports where professionals fight one another to the death, not much seems to happen in the story.  The ending, while it at first appeared gutsy, didn't really satisfy me.  With all of the building up and talking about fighting, there was only about 10 pages devoted to that.  Too much of everything else and not enough of what I expected the book to be about.  But, I suppose that is more of a problem with my expectations than the book itself.  

I guess it's a little like the Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins, but really only in very broad ways

s-factor: !
remarkably few

mrg-factor: X
some implied stuff

v-factor: ->->->
while the scenes are few, they are fairly gory

Overall rating: ***

Posted as part of Presenting Lenore's Dystopian February celebration. Check it out!

If you buy through my Amazon linkage, I will get a very small percentage


  1. My favorite part of good sci-fi novels is social commentary. I've heard a lot of disappointment about the execution of this book, however, so I'm not sure how quickly I'll get to it.

  2. Ah, I'm sorry the story didn't rivet you the way you'd have liked. For some reason I was all in with this one from the very beginning. But I know many people have found it boring, particularly in comparison with HG, which I really think it should never have been compared to in the first place.

  3. alison, it has some great social commentary - might be worth reading it for that sometime.

    Angie, I agree it really doesn't hold up with Hunger Games comparisons - I couldn't think of anything else to note as a read-alike, though. Definitely very different books. I'm glad there are people who loved it, though. :)

  4. Hmmm, when this first came out I remember wanting to read it but now that I look at the synopsis again and read your review I think I will pass.

  5. Debbie, I think if I'd read it sooner, I might have enjoyed it more, but my mood for it changed too :)


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