Friday, July 28, 2017

Arena by Holly Jennings

Arena is a face-paced, thrilling tale of a teen gamer girl who makes history in the futuristic RAGE tournaments: the most popular sport in the world. Leading her team in virtual fights to the death, Kali Ling struggles with balancing the real world and the gaming world, as well as dealing with tragedy and the pressures of the media.

I loved the honesty of this book and the narrative about celebrity life and pressures when dealing with the media and the public's expectations. While the details are sometimes horrifying (drug overdoses and the indifference of the sponsors) and inappropriate (sex in and out of serious relationships, and the media playing with it), the message Jennings delivers through her protagonist is strong and inspiring. "Watching" Kali fight her opponents in the arena, her rivals in real life, and fighting her inner struggles of drug addiction, anxiety, and feelings of helplessness encourages the reader to become strong in a variety of different ways to not only be a hero to others but a hero to oneself.

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