Early Review: Gauntlet by Holly Jennings

Posted March 30, 2017 by Anne - Books of My Heart in Book Review / 0 Comments

Review copy was received from NetGalley. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Early Review: Gauntlet by Holly JenningsGauntlet by Holly Jennings
Series: Arena #2
Published by Ace on April 4, 2017
Genres: Science Fiction
Pages: 336
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
One StarOne StarOne StarOne StarHalf a Star

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…


My Ace Roc Stars connection gave me the first book, Arena and I was hooked, ready and waiting. Gauntlet picks right up with the action and emotional roller coaster. It is fierce, uplifting and energizing!

Kali, the warrior, is such a lovable character. She makes mistakes, totally blames herself, and just doesn’t give up. You can’t help but want her to win. Murphy’s law is alive and well and beating up Kali every chance it gets. She is so young, only turning 21, and yet has such integrity. No matter how much she fucks up, she takes responsibility, sucks it up and claws her way back into the game. Grueling, hard work might be a euphemism. The decisions she has to make are heart breaking.

I loved this! I was so caught up in the game play and the emotional fortitude needed to navigate all the problems which kept popping up. I might have guessed the emotional impact of the ending, if not the details, but it was like slamming into a brick wall. Mind blown.

The author tells me the Arena series contract is complete but she hopes to have it extended. I hope so, too. I want to see Kali fight again and triumph as she deserves.


Giggle-worthy quote:

“So, can you tell me what you fear most, Kali?” Dr. Renner asked, as she made a few notes on her tablet.

I stared down at my feet. “I … don’t know. I’m afraid of losing the tournament and not being able to fund the team.”

She nodded. “Okay, anything else?”

“Letting down my friends?” I tried.

“That’s not really what I’m looking for. It has to be things that can actually manifest in a virtual world. Otherwise, how will they use it against you?” She tapped a fingernail against her table t a few times. “How about childhood fears?”

“Nope. My dad says I used to ask him to check the closet for monsters, so I could have something to wrestle.”




About Holly Jennings

I’m Holly Jennings, author of Arena and professional geek girl.

My love of writing and science fiction began at a young age, when my mother gave me the gift of books and my father gave me the gift of Star Wars.

My debut novel Arena is set in the not-too-distant future and was inspired by a documentary about young adults striving to make it as pro gamers (professional video game players). Tired of so many people looking down on those who enjoy games, I created a future where gamers are the ultimate celebrity athletes. Thanks to fully-immersive virtual reality, pro gamers compete in nationwide tournaments and build their skillsets in the real world by training in weapons and martial arts. I hope that Arena is the first of many set in this world.

Why do I write what I do? Our universe is filled with countless worlds and (for now) writing is the only way to explore them, or even create ones of our own. I hope you enjoy mine.

Rating Breakdown
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Overall: One StarOne StarOne StarOne StarHalf a Star
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Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

  • Anne: 2017 New Release Challenge

Posted March 30, 2017 by Anne - Books of My Heart in Book Review / 0 Comments