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4.11 of 5 stars 4.11  ·  rating details  ·  1,569 ratings  ·  190 reviews
Callie Hayes finds her life in peril after agreeing to participate in a psychology study, where the examiners cast her into an alien world called the Arena, with only a guidebook and a few supplies to help her return home.
Paperback, 400 pages
Published May 1st 2002 by Bethany House Publishers
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To the person who recommended this book to me, first of all, I would like to say, "Mother, that was one weird bus stop!"

What do you get when you combine a western novel with a sci-fi and a romance and Pilgrim's Progress? You get a cowboy shooting blue laser light at demons to save his true love. That's what. And then you stay up late into the night trying to find out what happens, and you come away with the same sort of impression you have after eating sushi or kimchee for the first time--weird
Dina Sleiman
Nov 25, 2013 Dina Sleiman rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Everyone
Recommended to Dina by: Christi Sleiman
Shelves: favorites
I wish I could give this book a sixth star. Take a dash of Pilgrim’s Progress, toss in a good helping of The Matrix, and you get Arena by Karen Hancock. Talk about a book I couldn’t put down. My teenaged daughter highly recommended Arena to me, and it turned out to be one of the most fascinating and unique novels I have ever read. Sci-fi fans will go especially crazy for this book, but everyone will appreciate the finely crafted allegory of the Christian experience.

Callie Hayes thinks she is si
This has to be my favorite book of all time. I have read this book several years ago and it has withstood the test of time. Brilliantly wriiten. I loved the concept of this story. Makes christian fiction fun and interesting like never before.
Callie Hayes grudgingly agrees to participate in a psychology study as moral support for a friend. However, frightened by the examiners' secrecy and evasiveness (one vanishes before her eyes), she tries to escape but finds herself cast into the Arena, a testing ground for participants of the study. Armed with only a guidebook and minimal supplies, she is soon forced to trust the enigmatic Pierce, a man who claims to have spent the past five years in the Arena. As Callie journeys toward the Gate, ...more
Heather G Gentle
I absolutely loved the first 3/4 of this book. Great adventure, mysterious and interesting characters and a good visual of the alien world. The only thing I would have liked is for the ending to have a little more to it....although I did like the very end where they meet up again years later...not the most original..but still cute and hopeful.
I had no idea this was "Christian fiction" until afterward- there was no "religion pushing" in this book-- just a lot of "faith" basis which was done in a
One of my favorite books, re-read it again, have already read it a couple of times. It is a very different kind of book, blending sci-fi and Christian allegory, but it also is a great adventure and quite a ride, one of those books you can't put down. A bit on the edgy side, so not for everyone, but very clear allegory. On the back of the book it is described as a modern blending of elements of the Matrix and Pilgrim's Progress, and I would add: and more! If you want something different, check it ...more
Austin Hobbs
Arena by Karen Hancock
.1/5 Stars

I like to start my reviews with the best parts, themes, characters or whatever I think makes the book standout. This book has already been a heavy discussion piece in my "book club." However, not for the reasons a book should be. The only things about this book that I can muster in a positive aspect are the following: the message and the overall idea.

Unfortunately, the execution of the idea was atrocious. The writing was bland, repetitive and overall boring. There
I enjoyed this book and didn't find that it was preachy in the Christian sense, despite the fact that is is listed as inspirational fiction. I can certainly see the parallels and allegory, but I do not believe that it would be a turn off to someone who was not a deeply religious person. I thought the message transcended Christianity as a moral tale of life, asserting ourselves and the choices we make. I enjoyed the little bit of an added happy ending as well. Sucker for the guy getting the girl.
Chris G
This is my favorite book. I didn't know what to expect when I picked this one up, but two days later I still couldn't put it down for more than a few minutes. I read it years ago and I still reread it. It's got great plot, characters, pacing, and is a fabulous allegory of the Christian walk from before salvation til God takes u home. I can't say enough good things about it. It's a must read.
I love this book! I have read it several times, it never gets old.
E. Melure
I typically have a hard time with Christian Fiction, because, to agree with a few of the reviews, that genre tends to be too "in-your-face" or too "Christian-cliché." I happen to be someone who knows God to be much more than cute quotes and easy street, so I get slightly repulsed by those types of books because they do not accurately portray the difficulty of life -- with and without God.

While granting my limited knowledge of this category, I found Arena to be an incredible example of the walk o
I'm kind of torn with this book. On the one hand, I did kind of enjoy it. The writing wasn't anything spectacular, and the story was kind of strange, but it was interesting in a way that kept me reading (although more slowly than I would with a book that really captured me).

Callie, at first, is a bit of a boring character. She seemed pretty stuffy for someone that young. I can understand serious, or reserved, but she came across as way older than she was supposed to be. So, it was kind of hard t
Katie Joiner
Don't get me wrong, this book was good. But I had several issues with it.
Let's start with the positives.
Callie Hayes was an amazing protagonist. She was someone totally relatable; I rooted for her the whole way. Even when the plot got boring, the preaching too preach-y, and the situation irritating, I stuck with it because of Callie.
The descriptions? Stunning. I felt like I was standing in the Arena, seeing what Callie saw and the terrors she had to overcome. Her love and her hate were equall
I'm not sure where to start. Though I enjoy this book from a purely sci-fi standpoint, its undertone is simply unbearable. Every time I manage to forget the fact that this book was written as a (rather shitty) allegory, something will come up that practically flaunts it. The best way to put it is your friend is telling a mildly amusing story. He means it to be humorous, but you find it interesting nonetheless. Yet every time you manage to forget how stupid the point of your friend's story is, he ...more
I gave it a valiant effort - a solid 50% completion.

This pretty much sums it up...

I first read this ages and ages ago when I finally wandered my way over to the adult fiction section of the library and found this. At the time, I had no idea this was an allegory of Christ or Christian religion. Heck, The Chronicles of Narnia is far more obvious than this and I still didn't discover that till like 8th grade. I remember enjoying it so much that I had to download it for my kindle. I still enjoyed it, and Callie very much reminds me of me and my stubborn headed tendencies to leap ...more
Shelly Ann Haselden
This book was interesting to say the least. I rarely read
books about aliens, phenomenal, extra terrestrial, books. But
I might start after reading this book!! Only if in good taste!!
This exemplified what we as Christ's believers go through in the
walk with God, on a daily basis. We have struggles, battle's to go
through, the pain we face daily. The choice is our how we deal with
it. Are you going to trust in God, or are you going to go alone?? The
imagination in this, is awesome! I would have never
This was definitely and unusual novel, at least for me. And I don't mean that in a negative way. In fact, I really enjoyed this novel. Arena was a fast paced, fantasy read that continued to keep me in suspense. I say it is unusual, because I am not really sure how to describe it to you, especially without giving too much away. However, I will try ...

Once our heroine lands in the Arena things get interesting and very confusing for her. Much like life for us. We have choices to make, people we pl
What a terrible excuse for a book.

Lost meets Hunger Games meets aliens (so far so good...) meets a terribly disguised "The Lord Jesus Christ is my personal savor, and if you don't believe, hell is in store" morality metaphor.

First of all, I should have guessed, after reading the effusive "Gratitude" section at the beginning. "[Thanks] to my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, in whom we live and move and for all things have been created" ... And "to all [those] God provided before He saw fit to gra
Louis Vanden bush
First things first: I would recommend this book to anyone who is a fan of good fiction, especially of good Science Fiction. That being said this is not strictly a Science Fiction book though it does have a fair amount of elements of science fiction, you do not have to be a sci-fi fan to read this as long as you can accept some aliens and another world in your story.

This was an interesting book. A bit different from the thrillers I've been reading as of late, but it was nice to get back into the
Melinda Gregory
3.5 stars. Overall, I liked this book. I think it's Christian speculative fiction - or Christian science fiction, maybe? The author uses humans in a world reflective of our own (but with futuristic, sci-fi-ish twists) to illustrate the Christian walk. Main character Callie signs up for what she thinks will be a few hours in an experiment - only to find herself transported into a different world (the Arena) where her only hope of passing through an exit gate is found in the manual and true benefa ...more
I didn't expect to enjoy this one, but I ended up really liking it. It was sometimes hard so see past the heavy-handed, rather corny fundamentalist Christian metaphors, though. Once I finished rolling my eyes, however, I was completely sucked into the wonderfully crafted, full, lush world that she created. Like every good book I have read, I was left wanting to stay in that world a little longer.
Bill Tillman
A very unique book, speculative in nature. When Meg and Callie sign up for an experiment at the Univ. of Arizona they have no idea where it will take them. They separately end up in a place called the "Arena", on another world and are confronted with life and death struggles in dealing with the environment.
Shelly Ann Haselden
This book was interesting to say the least. I rarely read
books about aliens, phenomenal, extra terrestrial, books. But
I might start after reading this book!! Only if in good taste!!
This exemplified what we as Christ's believers go through in the
walk with God, on a daily basis. We have struggles, battle's to go
through, the pain we face daily. The choice is our how we deal with
it. Are you going to trust in God, or are you going to go alone?? The
imagination in this, is awesome! I would have never
Trevor Raichura
I'm glad I was able to download this one for free, because I was quite unimpressed with it. Good premise, nice attempt at action and a unique storyline, but ultimately it was a little predictable and quite dry. I did not find myself liking or disliking any of the characters, as they did not have much personality or growth throughout the book. I should say, though, since I only finished 60% of the book before deciding I had wasted enough time on it (I was going to quit after the first section -- ...more
Marije Van
There are some books you reread every once in a while because they're more than a good story, they tell you about the Great Story, or about the Great Myth as Tolkien and Lewis would say. They teach you and help you understand aspects in a different way. The Chronicles of Narnia are of course number one in this area, but this book, Arena, by Karen Hancock, comes very close. I've read the book for at least 3 times now and each time I learn again. Besides this the book is well-written and I really ...more
Sheri L. Swift
So unusual and different ;)
DNF at 77%.

This is the first time I've dropped a reread of a book I used to love. In fact, this book used to have four, maybe five, stars from me. If I rated dropped books, I'd probably give this 2 now. It was a long time ago, but I loved it with all my heart. I reread it twice in that span, though a big warning was that I skipped most of it. When I "reread" it, I went to the meaty bits, to the romantic development. It took forgetting a remainder of the story and picking it up again for nostalgi
When Callie allows her friend to convince her to participate in a psychological study to earn $50, she has no idea what she’s getting herself into. She shows up for the test, and her suspicions are aroused by all the high-tech machinery used to evaluate her before the test even begins. And what about those too-gorgeous men running the place? She tries to back out, but instead finds herself transported into another world – the Arena. The ‘test’ is to find the gate back home by following the instr ...more
Elaine D
Arena begins with Callie Hayes, a broke post-college gal working a dead-end job seeking… something more. Desperate for money and enlightenment, she volunteers for a paid psychological research study. What she thinks is an obstacle course simulation lasting only a few hours, is actually a multi-dimensional & highly realistic other realm that she must escape unscathed. She soon finds out that her life problems are quite small and manageable compared to the horrors and dangers inside the Arena. ...more
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