Book Review: Girl in the Arena

Book Review: Girl in the ArenaGirl in the Arena by Lise Haines
Published by Bloomsbury USA Children's Books on October 13th 2009
Pages: 336

Lyn is a neo-gladiator’s daughter, through and through. Her mother has made a career out of marrying into the high-profile world of televised blood sport, and the rules of the Gladiator Sports Association are second nature to their family. Always lend ineffable confidence to the gladiator. Remind him constantly of his victories. And most importantly: Never leave the stadium when your father is dying. The rules help the family survive, but rules—and the GSA—can also turn against you. When a gifted young fighter kills Lyn’s seventh father, he also captures Lyn’s dowry bracelet, which means she must marry him... 


Girl in the Arena was completely different than what I was expecting. Although, to be honest, I am not exactly sure what I was hoping it would be.. but whatever it was.. Girl in the Arena more than met my expectation.

The first thing that I noticed about the novel was the world that Lise Haines creates. It is a mix of futuristic with the gladatior tradition of the past. This society was strangely created as a protest of sorts to the culture's wars. A father saddened over the lost of a son believed that by bringing the fight home, he could save other parents the pain that he had to go through. However, like most ideas, over time, the glad culture evolved. Transforming from an underground tradition to a full scale sport that rivaled football.

While this society is an interesting mix of past and future ideas, it took me a little while for me to understand all of its ins and outs. And while I believe that I do understand it quirks, the society.. the world that Lise Haines creates is so vast that I am sure that if I reread the novel right now, I would find 10+ things that I missed on the first go.

Like the plot being so different, so too was the writing. Haines incorporates a style that I have yet to see in another novel. In Girl in the Arena, dialogue is not notated by the usual "-", but rather -then dialogue. In the beginning of the novel, I was lost due to much of it blending with the descriptions and other elements of the writing. But as the novel continued, I really grew to love it.

Girl in the Arena was not what I was expecting and that is part of why I enjoyed it so much. Haines gives the reader a very strong female character who must go outside of everything that she knows. And not only does she triumph, but she does it in a "man's world." A world that expects the glad women to only be the support system and to look pretty. I truly applaud Haines for Girl in the Arena, and cannot wait to see what she comes up with next.

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3 responses to “Book Review: Girl in the Arena

  1. Hi Lise (I see your comment)…

    I really loved this book and I think you hit it spot on. The book was not what I expected and that i love. Books do tend to be predictable so it was a treat to read. Uber came to be my favorite of the novel. He surprised me and I really want to read more about the two characters!!!!
    So if ever the story continues- I will read it!!!

    Fantastic review!!!

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