Equally Exciting and Terrifying // Arena by Holly Jennings

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Equally Exciting and Terrifying // Arena by Holly JenningsArena by Holly Jennings
Series: Arena Series #1
Published by Ace on April 5th, 2016
Genres: New Adult, Science Fiction
Format: eARC
Source: The Publisher
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A fast-paced and gripping near-future science fiction debut about the gritty world of competitive gaming...

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 no-holds-barred fight to the digital death. Every bloody kill is broadcast to millions. Every player is a modern gladiator—leading 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 must confront the truth about the tournament. Because it is much more than a game—and even in the real world, not everything is as it seems.

The VGL hides dark secrets. And the only way to change the rules is to fight from the inside... (

My Thoughts:

Virtual reality is an up and coming technology, one that equally excites and terrifies me.  However, the thought of plugging into a world where reality and virtual reality are parallel, is even more terrifying. In most futuristic books where VR is a thing, the characters don’t feel pain, and things from the real world don’t transfer over into the virtual one. Yet in Arena, is does. i.e. the pain is real. Could you even imagine that? It’s again, equally exciting and terrifying.

I loved the action of the RAGE tournaments. It’s thrilling, and terrifying, and even though you know it’s a game, it kind of messes with your head a little. I love the deep-rooted themes throughout the book. It added a more complex story line, and was actually done quite well considering all the elements that are present.

Kali is the first female team captain in virtual gaming. A tough, ambitious, and smart girl moving up the ranks in the Virtual Gaming League. Dealing with a devastating loss on both the gaming front and real life front, she starts to spiral out of control and addiction comes in. Watching her struggle was hard on me as the reader, because you know the things she is doing are dangerous and she is throwing everything away. So much was put on her shoulders.

In conjunction with that, I loved the support Kali had from her teammates and of course, the romance. (I don’t consider it to be spoilers but some would, so sorry if that’s the case!) I adored Rooke’s character. While he too, isn’t without flaws and issues, he helps Kali see what she is doing to herself and helps her on the long road ahead of her. He not only treats her as an equal partner, he also respects her. And, while the romance plays a role in the book, it doesn’t overshadow the importance of the other themes in the story, and I appreciate that.

All in all – I enjoyed Arena. It’s not without its flaws, but it’s a solid start to a new series. I see the appeal to both Gamers and non Gamers. I recommend it!


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Tell me your thoughts

  • Have you read Arena? If so, what did you think? If not, does it sound like something you’d like?
  • If Virtual Gaming were a THING, would you wan to compete? Or watch?
Equally Exciting and Terrifying My Review of Arena by Holly Jennings

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