Girl in the Arena is an interesting take on where today’s violence-ridden society could lead. It is about a young lady, Lyn, 16, who is the daughter of a “neo-gladiator.” In this society fighting to the death in arenas is a common sport; in fact it’s a way of life for a lot of people. There are specific rules for the competitions, their competitors, and the families of the competitors. One of the rules forces Lyn to grow up very quickly when she ends up engaged to be married to her father’s killer.
There is plenty of fighting and blood in the book, but the plot is more than just that. Ms. Haines doesn’t focus too much on the fighting, but instead focuses on how that fighting affects the different characters of the book. There are places that the reader is left open mouthed at the gall of the GSA (Gladiator Sports Association). They run the lives of all those involved in the Gladiator lifestyle. They make promises they don’t keep and enjoy the pain of their gladiators. For example, in one fight, the gladiator’s parents come out into the arena armed to fight their own son, all set up by the GSA.
I really liked Lyn, because she’s extremely strong. I also liked that by the end of the book you are rooting for both Lyn, and Uber (the gladiator who killed Lyn’s father). Ms. Haines doesn’t make him out to be a bad guy, but more a guy in the wrong place at the wrong time. He’s very sweet and understanding to Lyn and quite a gentleman. The ending turns out semi-well, but I won’t tell you more than that. This one is worth the read, I’ll give it 3.5 stars, because it made me cry in places, and it was a little hard to get into the story.