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Published: October 13, 2009 by Bloomsbury USA

Pages: 336

Genre: Dystopian

Lyn lives in a world where fighting as a Gladiator means everything. People live to fight and fight to live. It’s a sport, like football, except players fight to the death to achieve fame and respect. Women can fight in their own women’s league, but usually they become Glad wives, with their own sets of rules and way of life. It’s a huge deal to marry a Gladiator – you’re set for life, even if he dies in battle. Divorce insurance!

Lyn is the daughter of seven Gladiators and one Glad wife. Her current father is Tommy, who is three battles away from the end of his contract. There’s a battle coming up now, and the odds are in his favor. When it’s over, they can have a normal life. Everyone, especially pacifist Lyn, can’t wait for this.

Lyn’s mother is Allison, the woman who married seven Glads. She tries to make Lyn the perfect future Glad wife. Lyn has a brother, Thad, who is special needs and has a habit of making predictions. It’s fallen to Lyn to take care of Thad most of the time, because her mother has some issues with depression.

But then Tommy dies in battle and his opponent picks up Lyn’s dowry bracelet. The rules of the sport say that now Lyn has to marry her father’s killer. Lyn will have to find her way out of this mess in order to stay true to herself and still provide for Thad.

I really, really, really liked the concept of this book. Girl has to fight in order to regain her independence and freedom? I’d read that any day. I did expect there to some kind of anti-love theme, but Lyn does have her romance stuff. Fortunately it doesn’t overpower the story at all.

There’s two major twists that I wasn’t expecting at all, and they both change everything for Lyn. Awesome.

Four things I would have liked to see more of:

1) World-building. I had no idea where the story was taking place. That makes it extremely difficult to picture in your head.

2) Pacifists and PETA. People are killing each other in arenas! Where’s all the protestors? What happened to “Thou shalt not kill?” What happened to the laws in the country? And animals are being killed in the arena, too. Does no one stand up for the animals anymore?

3) Government. After I finished reading, I realized I had never seen a police officer, or any kind of government official. Does the Gladiator Association run EVERYTHING?

4) QUOTATION MARKS. The author uses dashes instead of quotation marks, making it very strange for the reader until you get used to it. It really looks stupid if you’re using an e-reader. I’m sure the author was trying to be different, but it was just frustrating.

I would recommend Girl in the Arena to any dystopian fan, and especially those who like The Hunger Games.

I found this hilarious (and bizarre) book review on YouTube. If you pay close attention, the book they throw away is New Moon. Ha!


Rating: 4/5