Monday, 13 August 2012

Arena by Karen Hancock

Back Cover: When Callie Hayes agreed to participate in a routine psychology research experiment, she had no clue she'd find herself plunged into a terrifying world where a battle rages between good and evil. With limited resources and only a few cryptic words to guide her, she must unravel the mysteries shrouding her only route of escape or risk succumbing to the deadly deception of the Arena.

Review: You know you've just read a good book when you turn the last page and you really, really wish that there were a few hundred more pages to read. I fell in love with Karen Hancock's writing a few years ago when I read her fantasy series, "Legends of the Guardian-King". Her new title, "Arena" was equally well done.

Although written for a young-adult audience, "Arena" has the character intricacy, plot, and drama to keep an adult reader thoroughly entertained. The world within the arena is a delightful display of creativity; undoubtedly, the author had a lot of fun making it all up! There is an abundance of crazy flesh-eating reptiles, horrid bugs that have a weakness for chomping humans, bizarre and rather freaky plants, and monstrous Trogs.

However, the best part of this book is the other story that "Arena" parallels. I don't want to give too much away, but the moment I realized that there was a 'story behind the story' I was completely sold on this novel. The dual message really brought a lot of depth and meaning into an otherwise purely fantastical story. Don't get me wrong - fantasy is my favorite genre! - but it was neat to have a deeper element added to the adventure.

As for the characters themselves, Callie and Pierce were great. Unlike most heros, both had more flaws and weaknesses than strengths and talents. I know, it's a stretch...a fantasy novel with no super-powered, mega-amazing, dazzling main leads? Callie and Pierce were amazingly human and totally relatable. From having debilitating phobias to simply making some cringe-worthy judgement calls, it is a wonder they made it through the first half of the book! As strange as it sounds though, it was through their screw-ups and fears that the story really became interesting, and how I eventually realized who Elhanu was.

I don't know what more to say! I liked this book a lot. My brother (who never reads my novels...) 'borrowed' it and read it in one afternoon. Now, if that doesn't say a book is good then I don't know what does!

Rating: 4 Stars

"Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc. 
Available at your favourite bookseller from Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group"


  1. Hi Amanda,
    Saw the link to your blog in the Book Blogs group. Following you through GFC.
    365 Books A Year
    My Twitter if you want to exchange follows on Twitter. Just follow me and I'll follow back within 48 hours.

    It must be a good book if your brother read it. I've noticed that boys/men don't really like books unless it has a male protagonist. (In general)

  2. Hello! New follower from bookblogs. I really enjoyed your review of Arena, so i will be adding it to my TBR list. I do love fantasy! Please check out my site and follow back if you an at
    Nette’s Bookshelf Reviews