School Library Journal
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Gr 9 Up-In a not-too-distant future Boston, 18-year-old Lyn has come of age in the male-dominated, corporate-controlled culture of the neo-gladiator lifestyle. All seven of her fathers were champion Glads, trained warriors in the style of their ancient Roman predecessors. Lyn's mother knows how to be the perfect Glad wife in order to provide a comfortable life for her daughter and for eight-year-old Thad. Then, Lyn's last father dies in combat, and her family will be abandoned by the Gladiator Sports Association unless she marries Uber, the fighter who killed him. Her mother is not permitted to marry again. What follows is Lyn's journey to autonomy and a new life for herself and Thad after her mother commits suicide. Pop-culture references make Lyn's world seem familiar to readers, and clever new technologies make the story plausible without taking it too far into science fiction. Haines's protagonist is street-smart, socially conscious, and wise all the way through, even when she begins to have feelings for Uber. Readers will appreciate that her victory comes from life on her own terms and not merely romance.-Jennifer Miskec, Longwood University, Farmville, VA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
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Haines's first book for teens offers an altered version of the modern world, with a public hungry for violent, on-camera combat. Lyn, the "daughter of seven gladiators," has grown up in Glad culture with a mother who has made a career out of being a Glad wife she is resigned to public life and the way TV audiences relish making sport out of her family's many tragedies. When Lyn's seventh stepfather is killed in the arena, rules dictate that she be betrothed to her father's murderer, the gladiator Uber. The spotlight turns on Lyn as cameras follow this unlikely, staged courtship, as well as Lyn's eventual trip into the arena to face her fiance. The novel's present-day Boston setting and pop culture references (designers like Galliano and Jean Paul Gaultier dress the gladiators) feel off, pulling readers out of the story. Haines's neo-Gladiator world hangs on readers' ability to reimagine today's celebrity-obsessed culture accommodating gruesome, televised fights to the death, and shaky world-building makes this a tall order. Ages 14-up. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.
Vividly rendered, this story of self-determination, loss, grief, and survival is set in a contemporary but alternative world permeated with virtual reality and an extreme-sport gladiator subculture. Eighteen-year-old pacifist Lyn has no intention of becoming a traditional gladiator's wife. Then her stepdad, Tommy, is killed in an arena fight, and she faces an impossible choice: to follow the corporate-run Gladiator Sports Association's rules, which require her to marry his competitor, Uber; or to protect her family's future by entering the arena herself, with possibly devastating consequences. Referencing history and pop culture, Lyn's droll, sometimes poignant first-person narrative is engaging and intimate, and it deftly combines romance, Lyn's family responsibilities, and thought-provoking, frequently satirical looks at societal issues, such as celebrity, violence, and a culture that prizes profit over compassion. The scenes are occasionally disturbing and gruesome, but the diverse characters, chillingly hyperrealistic scenarios, and the strong, appealing protagonist provide an immersing read that is likely to attract fans of Suzanne Collins' The Hunger Games (2008).--Rosenfeld, Shelle Copyright 2009 Booklist