by Holly Jennings
Source: ARC from Netgalley, Berkley Publishing Group
Plug back into the dangerous world of virtual gaming, in the next thrilling novel from the author of Arena.
Kali Ling isn’t afraid of dying. She’s been killed hundreds of times in hundreds of different ways. And she knows there are things much more terrifying than death…
There’s a new game in town. A brutal, winner-takes-all, international video game tournament between the world’s most elite players, promising fame, prestige, and unbelievable fortune. But there’s a catch. The game uses new VR pods guaranteed to push digital warriors to their physical and psychological brink—adapting every time a gamer makes a move.
As the first female captain and youngest team owner in VGL history, Kali is used to defying the odds. But as the all-star tournament heats up, her determination begins to waver and the pressures of media, sponsors and the game itself begin to put cracks in her hard-set convictions.
If Kali’s Team Defiance is to survive, they’ll have to find a way to be stronger than ever before. But battling the system may prove too difficult for even the most hardened of fighters…
3.5 of 5 Stars
After reading Arena a while ago I was pretty excited to find out how the series continued. That said, by the time I actually got around to reading this second book in the series, my anticipation had died down. I wasn’t as connected with the characters which made it difficult to get into the story. For about half of the book, Kali just irritated and annoyed me. She’s meant to be this badass female lead character that has done so much but instead of being that strong leader she’s just… whiney. She’s also impulsive and sometimes short-sighted with many of her decisions for the team as a whole. I’d like to say the rest of the team is better but not really. A few new people are sort of introduced but just barely. Each member of her team is a little more fleshed out in this book and we get to know some of their darker or more hidden secrets which help in some instances. I did find myself growing frustrated that they weren’t more understanding of her position as a team owner. Not a single member of the team really even attempts to take into account her position with sponsors or the VGL.
I was getting more and more annoyed with these issues but at around the middle mark of the book, things began to improve greatly. Issues with the team itself started to make more sense and get resolved and we got to focus on the real drama with the tournament. I admit I was almost glued to the pages for the final third as the plot moved forward faster and faster. I sort of saw the ending coming though not exactly as it turned out. Most things wrap up rather nicely but there is a sort of cliffhanger at the ending. It’s not enough to leave me in pain but it opens up a lot of room for the next book in the series which I’ll most likely want to read.