Rant: Girl in the Arena

The Girl in the Arena by Lise Haines

The Girl in the Arena by Lise Haines

As a modern gladiator’s daughter, Lyn and her family live by the rules of the Gladiator Sports Association. But those rules can turn against you. When Lyn’s seventh father dies in the ring, his opponent, Uber, captures Lyn’s dowry bracelet—and her hand in marriage. To win her freedom, Lyn will do what no girl has done before: enter the arena and fight her father’s murderer—even though she’s falling in love with him.

I had high hopes for this book. I chose to read it because it was on several lists of books that are similar to The Hunger Games and because the five-sentence synopsis I had read (the one above) sounded so great. As it turns out, the synopsis was better than the book.

To start, it is very difficult to read. Thoughts are sometimes italicized, but sometimes they aren’t. Sentences containing hyphens are usually dialogue, but sometimes they aren’t. I had a hard time dealing with this break from conventional writing.  It’s very confusing. In addition, it is written like an out of sequence, rambling diary. There are flashbacks, which aren’t very clearly defined, that left me wondering what was going on.
Then, of course, there is Lyn, the gloomy, sarcastic teenage girl that is characteristic of popular teen fiction today. I’m willing to put up with these characters, as with Hoffman’s Green Angel, for the sake of an intriguing plot, but the problem is this: Haines has no intriguing plot. In fact, there is very little plot to the story and it all builds up to an epic fight that turns out to be not so epic.

I kept reading because I really hate the idea of starting a book and not finishing it; I always feel as if I’ve wasted my time. In this case, finishing the book was the bigger waste of time. If you are looking for a good gladiator read or something on the level of The Hunger Games, look elsewhere.  I give it one star.

Recommended for: no one.

Reviewed by: Melissa (reference services/Indiana Room).

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