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GIRL IN THE ARENA by Lise Haines

GIRL IN THE ARENA

By Lise Haines

Age Range: 11 - 13

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 2009
ISBN: 978-1-59990-372-9
Publisher: Bloomsbury

Lyn is the daughter of seven neo-gladiators, the men her mother married, one after another, until each died in the arena for the pleasure of the national TV audience. Lyn’s world, so like ours in most ways, features mortal combats by top athletes and the occasional death-row inmate. Lyn’s entire life is governed both by the bylaws of the Gladiator Wives Association and the punishing contracts with Caesar’s, the company that owns the sport. When her seventh father dies, the mustache-twirlingly evil company tries to force Lyn into a widely televised marriage with the gladiator who killed him. Only the marriage can protect her emotionally unstable mother and cognitively disabled baby brother. Lyn rings true, not least in the conflict between pacifism and her bone-deep allegiance to gladiator culture. The world building, however, carries less resonance. Detailed histories draw attention to logical lapses, such as Caesar’s immense, inexplicable legal power. Despite obvious comparisons, this is a far less sympathetic (or believable) world than that of The Hunger Games and Catching Fire (2008, 2009). Entertainingly gruesome and emotionally resonant—but ultimately contrived. (Science fiction. 11-13)