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Girl in the Arena Hardcover – October 13, 2009


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens; 1 edition (October 13, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1599903725
  • ISBN-13: 978-1599903729
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 1.2 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (117 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,265,512 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Lise Haines is Writer in Residence at Emerson College, has held a Briggs-Copeland lectureship at Harvard, and was a finalist for the PEN Nelson Algren Award and the Paterson Fiction Prize. She is the author of two adult novels, In My Sister’s Country and Small Acts of Sex and Electricity, as well as many essays and short stories. Girl in the Arena is her first work for young adults. She lives in the Boston area.
www.lisehaines.com

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Customer Reviews

I just get a headache trying to parse the paragraphs.
Kevin L. Nenstiel
I kept reading because I really hate the idea of starting a book and not finishing it; I always feel as if I've wasted my time in so doing.
M. M. Wiseheart
The writing is very descriptive (to a fault) and I really didn't care about the main characters.
Joseph P. Ulibas

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

29 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Deborah Wiley VINE VOICE on September 6, 2009
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
What happens when reality television dictates what a person does in their life?

Lyn is the daughter of seven gladiators. Her mother, Allison, has made a career out of being a gladiator's wife, studiously following the credos of the Glad wives. Lyn wants a different path for herself but a traumatic turn of events leaves her at the mercy of Caesar's, the ruling body for the Gladiator Sports Association. Will Lyn be forced to marry and become a Glad wife or will she find her own path to success?

GIRL IN THE ARENA is told entirely from Lyn's perspective and in the present tense. While I normally find present tense to be distracting, in this case it adds to the tale by drawing the reader into Lyn's point of view and adding a sense of urgency to the pacing.

The world of GIRL IN THE ARENA isn't so far distant from our current world as one might think and almost feels like an alternate history. Reality television dominates the airwaves, as does sports programming, and it's not hard to imagine a meshing of the two. Even more powerful, however, is the emphasis on the role of women and the expectations dictated to them by the Glad society. Readers will find themselves quite frustrated with the unfairness of the system while cheering Lyn's ability to think outside the box. Thad is a great secondary character and his unique situation only serves to highlight the injustices Lyn is facing.

The only caution I would give to readers regarding GIRL IN THE ARENA isn't in regards to the actual book, but rather to the marketing. The blurb on the back reveals most of the plotline while the title implies that the book will involve fighting as a large part of the plot. GIRL IN THE ARENA is more of a stream of conscious style social commentary, one that will appeal to a certain segment of both the young adult and adult readers, but it is not your typical gladiator book. Excellent!
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50 of 60 people found the following review helpful By Kevin L. Nenstiel TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on August 3, 2009
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
What is this book? What's the matter with me that I don't get it? Is it the interchangeable characters, the impenetrable dialog, the cringe-inducing format, the cack-handed timing? Or is it something deeper? Or--dare I say--is it much simpler: has the author just bitten off more than she can chew?

In a dystopian near future, blood sport streams live on global TV. Neo-gladiators are talk show celebrities, and Lyn's mother Allison has made a career of marrying into gladiator stardom. But Allison is widowed for the seventh and final time, and because of arcane gladiator rules, Lyn has to marry her last father's killer. Lyn's psychic brother warns that whether she agrees or refuses this marriage, a grim future looms down hard on her.

Lise Haines takes this smart, promising premise and ruins it. She has no sense of story. Her characters talk when they should act, act when they should think, and spend so much time in gloomy shoe-gazing that whole chapters read like a teenager auditioning to star as an emo kid. Haines credits her daughter for encouraging this book, but clearly she's channeling an adult's idea of teen behavior.

Haines' sense of pace is terrible. Lyn tries to establish what a complex character she is for so long that I feel like I'm reading introductory material well past page 200. Then the ending is terribly abrupt. The conflict which the dust flap copy leads us to think is the heart of the story actually only comes up in the last sixty pages. This book takes too long to set up, and then the payoff is much too quick.

A novel about gladiators ought to include skillfully written violence. No such luck here. Haines treats combat scenes so fleetingly that I get no image of how the fights actually go down.
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23 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Shawn Kovacich VINE VOICE on August 3, 2009
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Lyn is the daughter of seven gladiators. Her biological father was a member of the first underground gladiators. When he died in the ring, Lyn's mother, Allison, proceeded to marry another gladiator. This has gone on until now, when Lyn's seventh father, Tommy, is going in to fight. Allison is worried that Tommy is going to die in the fight and by Gladiator by-laws; she is not allowed to interact with gladiator men again. Lyn decides to give Tommy her dowry bracelet for luck.

Tommy goes into fight and dies in the ring by the hands of another gladiator by the name of Uber. Because gladiators can plunder the body of their dead opponent, he picks up Lyn's dowry bracelet. Now, by the Gladiator by-laws, Lyn is supposed to marry Uber, but she is trying to decide if she can marry her father's murderer.

Now that Tommy is dead, Allison is going off the deep end. She is trying to figure out what she is going to do now that she has lost her privileges from the Gladiator association and trying to push Lyn into the marriage with Uber go get the privileges back. Also, Thad, Lyn's special needs brother, needs all the opportunities that they can get. But when Lyn's mother cannot take it any more, it leaves Lyn trying to run the family and struggling to follow her plan to not marry Uber.

I will say that this story has potential. Lyn does everything that she can to try to keep her family together and going and it seems that everyone wants her to take the easy way out rather than listen to her plans for her own life. There are a lot of "dead spaces" in this story and a lot of it could have been eliminated and whittled down to around 150 pages or so and it would have been a much better read. This story just keeps going on and on and on and on... (I think you get my point).
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