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Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Arena by Holly Jennings

How thin is the veil between real and imagined?  How much of reality is real and how much of fantasy is imagined?  These questions are at the core of Kali Ling's struggle in a life dominated by image, story and the competing realities of actual and virtual.

In Arena by Holly Jennings, the real and surreal clash into a vortex around one warrior: Kali Ling.  To paraphrase Mr. Rod Serling: This is an adventure of sight, sound, smell, feel and mind.  The ultimate question being can Kali and her team Defiance make it to the end intact.

Holly Jennings brings us deep into the not too distant future and the world of eSports in a way that is plausible and sometimes disturbing.  The story takes place almost entirely in and around the training facility of team Defiance.  At times this made the place feel either isolating or confining or even protective to the character’s different times.  Most of all, it helps elevate or even create tension and conflict within the story.

When we first meet Kali and her team, they all seem oddly two dimensional.  That does not last very long.  Soon, we are drawn into Kali's world and witness how she handles all the situations that arise from that one event that altered her world forever.  We also get a good view of the effect the event and Kali's changes have on them.  Since the story is written in first person from Kali's perspective, we only get the development in the others from her observations.

Although this book is described as dystopian but, I find that doesn't quite fit.  It does show the problem that society has with eSports and could be seen as allegory to current times sports or entertainment industries.  What we don't see is the downfall of a society, social order or government like we do in most dystopian stories.  I see this as a very well-constructed hard science fiction.

Arena by Holly Jennings is a hard hitting science fiction story that is very forward thinking in many ways.  This book both touches on and tackles some very sensitive subjects in a bold and clear manner.  If it weren't for the language, the violence and mild sex scenes, I would recommend this for teens everywhere.  With those two things in mind, I have to give this an R rating but, suggest parents look into it for teens seventeen and up.

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Tynga is a 32 years old mom of two, from Montreal, working as a lab technician in an hospital specialized in heart disease. In her free time, she enjoys reading all things Paranormal and photography.

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  1. Hmmm, I've been wondering about this one. Thanks for the review!