Thursday, March 30, 2017

ARC Review: Gauntlet by Holly Jennings

Author: Holly Jennings
Series: Arena (Book 2)
Publication: Ace (April 4, 2017)

Description: Plug back into the dangerous world of virtual gaming, in the next thrilling novel from the author of Arena.

Kali Ling has faced down death hundreds of times for the entertainment of millions. She knows fear—and she knows what’s truly terrifying...

There’s a new game in town. A brutal, winner-takes-all, international video game tournament showcasing the world’s most elite players, promising fame, prestige, and unbelievable fortune. But there’s a catch. The game uses new VR pods guaranteed to push digital warriors to their physical and psychological brink—adapting every time a gamer makes a move.

As the first female captain and youngest team owner in VGL history, Kali is used to defying the odds. But as the all-star tournament heats up, her determination begins to waver and the pressures of media, sponsors, and the game itself begin to put cracks in her hard-set convictions—and strain on her relationship with the one person who matters most.

If Kali and her teammates are to survive, they’ll have to find a way to be stronger than ever before. But battling the system may prove too difficult for even the most hardened of fighters...

My Thoughts: In this second book in the Arena series, Kali Ling has become the youngest team owner and taken the rest of her team with her. Now she has to deal with sponsors, images, and managing her friends. There is a new tournament forming with a brand-new technology and only 32 teams are being invited to play.

Kali and her team are chosen to take part. But, even before the first match, Rooke falls off the wagon and has a failing drug test which she has to report which opens Rooke up to public scrutiny. It seems like each day the members of the team become the victim of rumor. The paparrizi are on them much more than the other teams.

After losing their first match, they need to come back through the loser's bracket. The new technology is quite an advancement. It seems to learn each time the team does something which makes the game progressively harder to win. In fact, the technology seems to be deliberately playing on the fears of Kali's team.

I am not a gamer but I really enjoyed getting into the minds of gamers and learning what keeps them playing. I thought the virtual world was fascinating and the stresses placed on these competitive gamers seemed realistic to me.

I liked the way Kali lost track for a while about why she loves gaming as she was buried under the business of running a team. I also liked the way she chose to deal with the problem once she recognized it.

Fans of video games will be a great audience for this fast-paced adventure.

Favorite Quote:
I realized something right then. Virtual or not, life is only as real as you make it.
I got this one in exchange for an honest review from NetGalley. You can buy your copy here.

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