Saturday, November 12, 2016

Arena by Holly Jennings

Now in trade paperback, the “thrilling” (New York Times bestselling author Jason M. Hough) near-future science fiction debut about the action-packed 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 fight to the digital death. Every kill is broadcast to millions. Every player leads 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’s stuck trying to work with a hostile new teammate who’s far more distracting than he should be.

Between internal tensions and external pressures, Kali is on the brink of breaking. To change her life, she’ll need to change the game. And the only way to revolutionize an industry as shadowy as the VGL is to fight from the inside…

Add to Goodreads

Book 1
Buy Links

Amazon US  ~  Amazon UK  ~  Amazon Au  ~  Amazon Ca

Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

5 Virtual Reality Stars

Holly Jennings is a new-to-me author. I had no expectations when I decided to read this novel, having no idea where it would go. As a lifelong gamer, anytime I spot a book featuring gamer content, I jump at the chance to read it. I've found two others in the past year featuring a similar theme – one in which worked, and one that didn't.

Arena more than worked for me. I found myself completely engaged throughout the entire novel, clicking page after page to find out what happened next.

In a world set in the year 2054 in the United States, virtual gaming is everyone's favorite pastime. High-stakes, sponsors, team owners, competitors, drug abuse, with no doubt the world gambling on the outcomes.

Kali is a 20-year-old female virtual gamer, but what they do in the virtual world reflects their abilities in actuality. Gamers are pro-athletes who train hard and party harder to appease their fans and sponsors. The more salacious, the better the ratings, featured on more gossip rags and scandal sheets, the more high-profile sponsors the team acquires. There is a dark underbelly to the sport, infecting its players.

While the narrator is 20 years old, I do believe younger readers would gain the most enjoyment out of the read. I'm not saying someone of my advanced age didn't enjoy every word. Simply stating this is a good opportunity for younger gamers to be bitten by the reading bug.

Arena is a progression for Kali, from unhealthy to healthy to inspiring and empowering, with a strong Taoism theme. The quotes and philosophies showed the growth of our characters, and perhaps will influence the reader to seek a similar mindset. The book itself revolves around Kali understanding the difference between reality and virtual reality, getting healthy, and trying to change the industry she loves so much.

Do I believe non-gamers would enjoy this novel? I'm on the fence, simply because of the concepts included in the book. RPG/MMORPG game players will wish they lived in 2054 – I know I do. I believe it would be easier to read, more enjoyable in fact, and humorous when games we play today are brought up in everyday conversations by the team. But those who read science-fiction, even if they aren't a gamer, may enjoy it nonetheless.

End thoughts: Erica wants to play!

I'm curious to see what else Holly Jennings publishes next.

Recommended for 14+ due to violence (no different than what they are already experiencing during gameplay) with fade-to-black sexual content and kissing. Drug abuse is featured on the pages – which is a moral of the book.

Holly Jennings is a self- proclaimed nerd and lover of all things geeky and weird. As the firstborn to a sports enthusiast, it was soon discovered that the only games she’d ever learn to master involved consoles and controllers. Her childhood was spent crushing virtual foes, racing on simulated tracks, and rescuing digital princesses. As a young adult, she fell in love with English class, speculative novels, and comic books, which inspired her to create stories of her own. Eventually, her passions converged and she started writing about the future of video games. She lives in Canada.

Connect with Holly

Facebook  ~  Twitter  ~  Website  ~  Goodreads

Reviewers on the Wicked Reads Review Team were provided a free copy of Arena (Arena #1) by Holly Jennings to read and review.

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