Monday, 13 August 2012
Arena by Karen Hancock
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"