Review: Girl in the Arena

  • August 7, 2009
  • James Skemp
  • review

The following is a book review of Girl in the Arena, written by Lise Haines.

The book read was an uncorrected advance proof, and was selected by myself as part of my Amazon Vine ‘membership.’ This book is scheduled to be released in October 2009.

The short version is that I give this book four of five stars. It’s a good book, that I may read again, but it’s not exactly what I was expecting, based upon the suggestion that fans of Fight Club (the novel) would enjoy this.

As the description states, the book follows Lyn, in the not-so-distant future, leading up to and after her seventh father’s death, and her choice between marrying his killer/murderer, or fighting him in the arena.

What wasn’t obvious to me, especially after reading that this was for fans of Fight Club, is that this novel is geared towards young adults. Although, as another reviewer pointed out, the amount of violence seems a bit much for a YA book (although things in the world have certainly changed since I was reading YA-classified books). Since the author’s other books were for adults, perhaps she couldn’t decide who her audience was. Is she gearing this towards those who have read/watched Fight Club and understood it, or those who know what Second Life is and can text as fast as they can talk?

Either way, after I realized that this wasn’t written for adults-only, and I just read it for the story without perconceptions, and without expecting a deep meaning, I still enjoyed it, and honestly had more than a couple ‘just a few more pages before I go to bed’ moments.

Unfortunately, either the book loses focus mid-way through, or it should have been shortened up. There’s a great amount of detail and build-up in the beginning of the book, and then we begin to start rushing through the rest. No where is this more apparent than the two fights suggested from the book; the fight resulting in her death, and the fight with his ‘murderer.’ While the first is detailed, the second is cursory, making us forget that it’s supposed to be violent. Not to mention the cheat that is the sci-fi element of the story …

And for a book titled ‘Girl in the Arena,’ and with the cover that it has, I assumed that the girl (Lyn) would be … in the arena. But instead, most of the violence we experience comes from either media sources, or the few matches she watches or recalls.

Despite these short-comings, it’s still a solid 4 stars. It’s a good read, and for those characters we meet in the first half of the book, I like I know them. But if you’re looking for a violent story, or something as deep as Fight Club, pass this up.