Arena by Holly Jennings
Publishing Info: Ace | April 5, 2016
Status: Complete
Source: NetGalley eArc
         Every week, Kali Ling fights to the death on national TV. She’s died hundreds of times. And it never gets easier...
         The RAGE tournaments-the Virtual Gaming League’s elite competition where the best gamers in the world compete in a no-holds-barred fight to the digital death. Every bloody kill is broadcast to millions. Every player is a modern gladiator-leading a life of ultimate fame, responsible only for entertaining the masses.
         And though their weapons and armor are digital, the pain is real.
         Chosen to be the first female captain in RAGE tournament history, Kali Ling is at the top of the world-until one of her teammates overdoses. Now, she must confront the truth about the tournament. Because it is much more than a game-and even in the real world, not everything is as it seems.
         The VGL hides dark secrets. And the only way to change the rules is to fight from the inside...

         I'm not super, die-hard passionate about this book. Don't get me wrong, I liked the book. I thought it was a decent read and it had an interesting story, but it was the protagonist that I was drawn to. I was drawn to the protagonist because she's half-Chinese. That's hard to come by in books. This book also has, a very small amount of, LGBT! The diversity is AMAZING. Now you're wondering If the story was great and had diversity, why 3.75?
         The writing was repetitive and little things irked me. Things that irked me: the romance, Kali Ling in the beginning, their attitudes, some dialogue etc. I really enjoyed reading the team's interaction. I liked their banter and their vibe. They're a group of nerds and enjoy classic video games, respect. They were fun and easy going, but then it was all about Kali and Rooke. I liked the gradual build-up, but the story began revolving around them too much. Their romance was a little cheesy for me. I don't care how he smells. It would only matter if you were a dog.
         In the beginning, Kali is so arrogant and annoying, she goes through a change (like every book character, thank God!). She thinks really highly of herself and doesn't know enough about herself. I wouldn't say she's self-involved because that would mean she would know what's going on with herself, which she is not. I really wanted to punch her for her distortion with reality and her denial. She also said pfft too much. You can make a drinking game!
         I loved the fight scenes! They were so gorey and intense, that's what I'm all about! I was extremely pleased with it.
         This is irrelevant but, thank you to the author for adding diversity and understanding the stereotypes. Being Asian and being good at video games should be separated. Kali's inner dialogue about this subject [being Asian is general] is very strong and I loved it. Thank you for making a Kali the first, female leader in a male dominant sport. Thank you for including extremely quotable quotes. Loved them.
"Zorro could kiss my ass."
"Sleep. The sweetest escape. A middle finger to reality."
Favorite classic video game? "Bubble Bobble"
"Imperfections were far more beautiful. A blemish on the skin. An extra five pounds. That was true beauty."

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