Girl in the Arena by Lise Haines
Published October 13th 2009 by Bloomsbury
From Goodreads: It’s a fight to the death—on live TV—when a 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 rules—and the GSA—can also turn 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...
I've been wanting to read this one. It looked to have an interesting premise- not quite dystopian, rather set in modern times with a few twists. Gladiator competitions have become a major sport, just like football or hockey, only in Gladiator sports, the opponents in the arena fight to the death. Not really all that far fetched. We are a vile, violent race on the whole and I can think of a handful of people, just of my acquaintance who would happily put on their beer guzzling helmets and wave their giant foam fingers while two people hack each other to bits in the name of entertainment. If you look at it like that it's only slightly less civilized than football, and perhaps a bit more so than hockey :)
I'd like to clear up that even though, when one sees the title, one could speculate that this is merely a Hunger Games wannabe, but it's not. There are countless differences and very few similarities. I think perhaps the biggest difference (and perhaps the biggest plus for this novel) is that Lyn's story is entirely believable. A big multimillion dollar entertainment corporation owns and operates a sports association, profiting from all the publicity, advertising and merchandising that goes along with it. The fight to the death- not so unbelievable. It's happened in the past, and it happens today in other less demonstrative forms. I liked that. Lyn and her family lived in the suburbs, owned lots of needlessly high-tech, futuristic gadgets (just as we do and will), she went to high school and so on. I could really get into the story because for the most part, it's stuff I've seen first hand and could picture it. Except for the killing part.
I got a kick out of all the Gladiator culture, with its idiotic rules and regulations, and its people who believe in it wholeheartedly. It reminded me a lot of a religious cult and it was just as ridiculous.
I wasn't sold on the writing; it was rather flat. When I read I like to mark (yes by dogearing the bottom corner of the page) specific passages where the writing stands out to me, or if there's a quote that I know I want to share. I didn't find any memorable examples in this book and I was less than impressed by the fact that it took over 3/4 of the book to get to the point. When it finally did arrive at the "big event", it was rather anticlimactic. I was really hoping for a good fight.
Kudos for shamelessly writing some really gross stuff- dismemberment and suicide and humans trampling humans. And even though I shouldn't have been, I was very much team Uber.