Format: Paperback, 336 pages
Release Date: April 4, 2017
Genre: YA, Science Fiction
Plug back into the dangerous world of virtual gaming, in the next thrilling novel from the author of Arena.
Kali Ling isn’t afraid of dying. She’s been killed hundreds of times in hundreds of different ways. And she knows there are things much more terrifying than death…
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…
Gauntlet is the second installment in author Holly Jennings Arena series. Several months ago, Kali Ling's dream of becoming the first female captain to lead a team to virtual glory came true. Now, she is on a mission to erase the corruption and drug abuse stigma that infects both players and owners in pro-gaming by becoming the youngest team owner ever. Kali is world renowned as the Warrior in Virtual Gaming Rage Tournaments. She is, pure & simple, a badass with skills to back up what she brings to the gaming world. But, she also has more than her fair share of enemies who would do anything to see her fail.
After getting a surprise invitation to visit "The Wall" where new technology is being developed, Kali and her Defiance teammates Derek, Hannah, Lily, & James Rooke are offered the last spot in a tourney that will feature 32 of the best gaming teams in the world. Teams from South Korea, where gaming was birthed, to Sweden, and to a team lead by Jessica Salt, the best female fighter in the world. Dare I say I loved the hell out of Jessica? Not only because of her sound advice she gives Kali, but the way she encourages Kali to become the person she can become by fighting harder, and continuing to stand for what she believes. Can you understand how powerful this message is?
"If you have a dream, then you just have to do it. You can't let money, or experience, or anything else become an obstacle. Never bow down to the world. Always make it bow down to you." Jessica Salt
Kali puts her reputation, her integrity, & her future on the line in this book. She doesn't have the money to throw around like other more settled owners do. But, she is an owner who is a stickler for following the rules. Even when someone has a brief, albeit, untimely failed drug test. She has sponsors who want blood from Kali, and unless she delivers what they want, she could be in jeopardy of falling hard and taking her friends with her. Thankfully, Kali has a core group who are not only her teammates but also her family. She relies on the fact that her teammates stand by her shoulder to shoulder against an increasingly powerful enemy that wants to make Kali pay for what she did in the previous installment. But, Kali isn't going to lie down and rollover for anyone either.
In the end, Gauntlet once again rises above my expectations, and doesn't lay a golden egg like other sophomoric releases. The action is intense, the characters are challenges from the beginning to end, and there is a pretty wacked out ending to the story which I am definitely eager to see what happens next. Jennings is a helluva writer, but she is also diabolical. There are things that Kali, Derek, Hannah, Lily, and Rooke go through that really pushes them all to the mental and physical limits. There are still challenges to come, but I will say that if you haven't read the first book in the series, you really should do so. Especially if you are a geek who loves video games, or just watching them being played out like me. These are realistic characters, with realistic problems, and realistic dreams for the future.