Sara's Reviews > Arena One: Slaverunners

Arena One by Morgan Rice
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's review
Mar 28, 2012

it was ok
Read from March 26 to 28, 2012

Books like this tick me off. They make me feel like the publishing company is in such a hurry to feed the beast that is the YA genre that they don't take the time to massage books and work with writers to take stories from an interesting idea to a great piece of work. Mind you, I knew when I went into this book that it was going to be of similar YA dystopian stock as many of the other books in that genre I've read recently - meaning an interesting plot idea, some stolen bits from other novels and a fast, escapist read.

Well, it met most of that criteria - it was definitely a fast read - read it in less than a day in between work and whatnot. And it had a definite interesting plot - picture Mad Max mixed in with Waterworld mixed with bits from James Dasher's The Scorch Trials and you'll get a pretty good idea of the content - throw in an often unlikeable female heroine who is made to fight to the death - repeatedly (which is where all those completely off-base Hunger Games references came from) and that's Arena One in a nutshell.

What confounds me about this book is that as I sat there reading it and occasionally complaining about it to my spouse, I still couldn't put it down. I had to know what happened. That's the strength that Ms. Rice has - you get pulled in and feel a need to know what happens. My interest in this book past that need to know feeling though? It takes a STEEP drop.


Well, first, let me get back to my original point that this book seems like it had a poor editor and that Ms. Rice was not given the time or guidance to flesh out her idea. Why do I say this? Well, there were several turns of phrase in Arena One that grew tiresome early on. Honestly, a character should only be allowed to say "I knew then I was going to die" or "I wondered if I was going to die" so many times in a novel. The main character here, Brooke, says it so many times that it seems trite. Here's a tip - you ready? - Thinking you're about to die should never seem trite. It should NEVER be so overused that it leaves the reader rolling his or her eyes. Which I did. Repeatedly.

Another thing I take issue with? The lack of broad vocabulary used by Ms. Rice. I know this is intended for the YA set, and that means authors think they have to be a bit careful to use words that set will understand (though I think most authors vastly underestimate the YA set), but the words tremendous, shocking/shocked, the phrase "slipping and sliding" and other words/phrases I can't think of off the top of my head right now, were used so much - I mean two or three times in the same sentence too much. There is no excuse for that kind of sloppy writing and editing.

What frustrated the heck out of me though? What really made me angry at Ms. Rice and the publishing world at large? There are some ABSOLUTELY BEAUTIFUL sections of this book. I mean heartbreakingly touching moments and wonderfully described scenes. Those sections show the talent Ms. Rice has as a writer - that she can really create and set scenes and build tension. This is what makes the utterly awful sections of the book that much worse - the loss of potential.

All this said, I think I will read the second book when it comes out - not so much because I really care about the story, but because I hope Ms. Rice grows as a writer. She has great potential and given time and a good editor, she could easily ascend the ranks of YA stardom.

She's just not there yet. Not by a long shot.

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Reading Progress

03/28/2012 page 250
83.0% "Oh my God woman, buy a thesaurus. If I have to read the words tremendous or shocked one more time, I may cry. At this point I'm only finishing this book because I'm so close to the end."
03/28/2012 page 251
84.0% "There it is again. Tremendous. I'm beginning to hate that word. And also beginning to read it in the affected voice of Effie Trinket. Not good."

Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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message 1: by Shaun (new)

Shaun Hutchinson You do realize that this was self-published, right? There was no publishing company involved. Just saying.

Sara ... I feel like a gigantic dork now that I didn't realize that. But it does make me understand a whole lot more about the writing style. I read the e-book, and didn't look at the copyright/publisher/etc stuff like I always do in a hardcover. I'll be sure to look at that from now on. Thanks for letting me know.

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