Saturday, September 26, 2015

Arena One: Slaverunners by Morgan Rice

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Synopsis via

New York. 2120. American has been decimated, wiped out from the second Civil War. In this post-apocalyptic world, survivors are far and few between. And most of those who do survive are members of the violent gangs, predators who live in the big cities. They patrol the countryside looking for slaves, for fresh victims to bring back into the city for their favorite death sport: Arena One. The death stadium where opponents are made to fight to the death, in the most barbaric of ways. There is only one rule to the arena: no one survives. Ever.

Deep in the wilderness, high up in the Catskill Mountains, 17 year old Brooke Moore manages to survive, hiding out with her younger sister, Bree. They are careful to avoid the gangs of slaverunners who patrol the countryside. But one day, Brooke is not as careful as she can be, and Bree is captured. The slaverunners take her away, heading to the city, and to what will be a certain death.

Brooke, a Marine’s daughter, was raised to be tough, to never back down from a fight. When her sister is taken, Brooke mobilizes, uses everything at her disposal to chase down the slaverunners and get her sister back. Along the way she runs into Ben, 17, another survivor like her, whose brother was taken. Together, they team up on their rescue mission.

What follows is a post-apocalyptic, action-packed thriller, as the two of them pursue the slaverunners on the most dangerous ride of their lives, following them deep into the heart of New York. Along the way, if they are to survive, they will have to make some of the hardest choices and sacrifices of their lives, encountering obstacles neither of them had expected—including their unexpected feelings for each other. Will they rescue their siblings? Will they make it back? And will they, themselves, have to fight in the arena?

This book was brought to my attention by my 17 year old son. He asked if I had read it yet, when I said no and asked if it was any good, he simply replied "Yep. You need to read it." For Josh that is a very high recommendation. Well, I read the book and here I am.

What I liked about the book: I enjoyed that it was fast-paced and full of action. It pretty much ran like an action-adventure movie in my head the whole time I read it. There were enough "pause" scenes between the action to explain the back story and nuances into each of the characters, yet not so many that the action was disrupted.
I read some of the other reviews and something that stood out to me was the complaint that some of the action wasn't realistic. Well, I understand that some people need reality to keep them grounded. But the truth is, every day on TV and in the movies we see scenes where reality is tweaked a little to add to the drama or the romance. I don't know how many times during a medical drama I turn to my husband and say "There were so many things wrong with that scene". Or when we are watching a police drama and my husband will say "They make all of us look crooked". You see I love reading because you can go anywhere and do anything you want!
What about readers who just want a book that is a great read and will take them away on an adventure. Arena One will do that. Like I said earlier, it is full of action and adventure. You will have a hard time putting this book down.
So, let's talk about the deeper, more intellectual part of the book:
I enjoyed Miss Rice's take on how we would end up destroying our own country. It is very apropos to the state of our government right now-the republican and democratic nominees slinging mud and how the president and congress keep facing off. Not to mention the intensity of tension and skirmishes on social media between everyday people on current events and politics. Was it meant to be a political statement? I don't know, but you can't help but think about the ramifications. Was it meant to just be a story to carry the action junky away? I don't know, but it works for me. Was it meant to be a means to get young people back into reading for the love of reading and not just for school? I don't know, but my son found another book to keep him reading and that alone is worth it for me as a mother.
Here is my take on this book: I think it should be brought in to schools and offered as a comparison to George Orwell's 1984. Arena One is more relevant to today's politics and state of unrest than 1984. But by reading both, the reader will be able to see how different, yet similar writers of the different decades viewed conflict within our own country's leadership.

I place this book on the "must read" list of reader who like Dystopian Fiction and/or Young Adult.

Happy Reading Y'all!

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