Girl in the Arena

PJV Quickie: Girl in the Arena’ was not what I expected, in both a good and bad way.  Sometimes surprises keep things interesting.

Title: Girl in the Arena
Author: Lise Haines
ISBN: 1599903725
Publication: Published October 13th 2009 by Bloomsbury USA Children’s Books
Purchased via Amazon
Links: Author Web  >> Purchase Book >> Goodreads
Rating: 4 out of 5


‘Girl in the Arena’ was described as the daughter of woman that has made a career out of marrying neo-gladiators, is forced into marrying a young gladiator when he captures her dowry bracelet by killing her seventh father.

My first impression, even though there were some key terms, like neo-gladiator and televised, was that this was either going to be a historical or a sort of eroded dystopian. Probably stemming from the fact that it’s been identified as similar to ‘The Hunger Games’, while modern has that gritty dystopian, broken down society attached to it. This isn’t the case with ‘Girl in the Arena’, while a dystopian and slightly eroded it’s a very modern, real-world interpretation. The gladiatorial sport and the managing body that oversees the sport, the GSA, are very like the NFL. They have a little more attached to them though, like fighting to the death and governing rules that percolate into all aspects of the fighters and their families, behavior, social interaction and economically.

The main character Lyn is almost destined to become a staple in the Gladiatorial Sports Association as a wife. She is the daughter of seven well-known gladiators and with the death of her seventh father and the securing of her dowry bracelet by the up and coming Uber she is an instant celeb. With her celeb status, the GSA decides to force her hand in following their rules. She must marry Uber even though every time she sees him, the blood of her father  is all she sees.

It is a very interesting concept and the character crafting of Haines was well-done, even though there were a lot of parallels to ‘The Hunger Games’ within the pages.  I liked the Gladiatorial bylaws and how they were portrayed and written within the story. It had a different way of laying out the sequence of events that I wouldn’t have predicted. I did find the ending rather unbelievable, but I enjoyed the execution and I’ll accept that something like this could happen.

The whole concept tended to be confusing, I think I confused myself trying to write the review. Seven husbands/fathers/bylaws, those type of things. For such a short book, it was packed full of a lot of stuff. Good thing to keep you engrossed, bad thing to keep your head from whirling off your neck.

Overall, I was impressed with Lise Haines’s writing and her portrayal of the dystopian world she created. I also like that the book is self-contained and not falling into the trilogy trappings of the usual dystopian portrayals. I would recommend that you give ‘Girl in the Arena’ a whirl.  Should have snatched it up when it was on Amazon for so cheap like I did 😉


Recommended for YA fans of dystopian. There are a few mature themes, like a large amount of violence and the upheaval of some very traumatic events that would be best suited for older teens.

Like This, Like That:

Divergent‘ (Divergent Trilogy) by Veronica Roth
Legend‘ by Marie Lu

Check out this “rapping” review and the reason I bought this book.

dystopianYoung Adult Novel