Series: Arena #2
Published by Ace on April 4th, 2017
Genres: Science Fiction, Urban, Young Adult
Sexual Content: Non-explicit sex scene.
Reviewed by: Rebecca
Plug back into the dangerous world of virtual gaming, in the next thrilling novel from the author of Arena.
Kali Ling isn’t afraid of dying. She’s been killed hundreds of times in hundreds of different ways. And she knows there are things much more terrifying than death…
There’s a new game in town. A brutal, winner-takes-all, international video game tournament between the world’s most elite players, promising fame, prestige, and unbelievable fortune. But there’s a catch. The game uses new VR pods guaranteed to push digital warriors to their physical and psychological brink—adapting every time a gamer makes a move.
As the first female captain and youngest team owner in VGL history, Kali is used to defying the odds. But as the all-star tournament heats up, her determination begins to waver and the pressures of media, sponsors, and the game itself begin to put cracks in her hard-set convictions.
If Kali’s Team Defiance is to survive, they’ll have to find a way to be stronger than ever before. But battling the system may prove too difficult for even the most hardened of fighters…
GAUNTLET is all about seeking a balance -- in life and in virtual reality. After exposing the corruption within the Virtual Gaming League, Kali Ling has a placed a target on her back. It turns out that owning a team is expensive, demanding, and a lot more responsibility than expected. In GAUNTLET, Kali learns there’s a huge difference in being a player and being an owner. She now has to worry about the image of her teammates and the narrative that the media creates about them. When Team Defiance is invited to participate with new, artificial intelligence gaming system, they can’t turn down the shot at winning the grand prize.
The novel takes place in the future but the themes of addiction and cyberbullying are still very relevant. Kali Ling is still struggling with her addiction from the first novel. There’s no easy fixes. Her addiction is always there, just one bad night away. She aims for calm and serenity but sometimes it’s easier to just throw a phone against the wall. The book also addresses the toll of being a female public figure. Whether it’s being a gamer, a celebrity, or an athlete, women are held to a higher standard. When gossip and rumours about Team Defiance start, it’s not a surprise that they impact the female members of the team harder than others.
There are no pained silences in this book. All characters are quick to share their feelings. It’s refreshing but can drag down the action. You just want the character to get back into the arena. Even though it’s clear that in-game warfare has no real world repercussions, the fights are well-written and suspenseful. Reading GAUNTLET is a lot like getting lost in a video game. It’s engrossing enough to make-up for any problems. Even if you’re a casual gamer, the pop culture references are easy to pick up. For non-gamers, Holly Jennings is quick to explain any important lore. While there is an obvious comparison to the Hunger Games series, GAUNTLET is a fun read that stands on its own.
If you like reading about other people playing videogames check out Ready Player One by Ernest Cline.