Reviewed by: Amy
Rating (out of 5): 4 stars
Note: While this review will be spoiler free, it will reference events from the previous book. If you haven’t started this series yet, check out VBC’s review of book 1, Arena.
It’s been a few months since Kali Ling made history as the first female captain to win the RAGE tournament along with her team, Defiance. Now, Kali has another mantle she can add to her growing collection, she just became the youngest ever team owner when she bought Defiance out from under its previous management.
While Kali has been dealing with the ins and outs of sponsorships and managing finances, gamers from around the world have been intrigued by a mysterious new place that just popped up, dubbed The Wall. Various people have been seen clandestinely entering the complex, but their identities are kept secret (as secret as they can be with paparazzi hovering 24/7). No one knows what is going on behind those walls, but many believe it has to do with a new kind of drug. When Defiance is finally invited to enter, they discover that The Wall is not about some new drug, but a new kind of technology that, if implemented, could revolutionize the virtual gaming industry. To prove this, there is set to be an All-Star tournament consisting of teams from all over the world. Defiance is ready to show everyone else what they’re made of, but as they enter the tournament they discover the road to the top might not be so easily taken.
Kali went through so much growth by the end of Arena that I was happy she was continuing on that path in Gauntlet. Not to say it was an easy path, but I was happy that the ideals she learned stuck with her throughout. It was also interesting to see a different perspective from Kali’s eyes: that of Team owner. We see her have to deal with the same things she rebelled against in the first book, and it’s kind of an eye opener for her. It’s a testament that you don’t really know what someone else’s life is like until you walk in their shoes.
But behind everything that Kali has to deal with, is her team. I felt like we really got to know more about the others on the team this time around; Derek, Lily, Hannah, and Rooke. When it appears that someone has specifically started targeting Team Defiance outside of the virtual world, the Team can either fall apart or band together. It went a long way toward making me care not just about the outcome of the games, but the actual relationships between the characters.
Now, to the games. I’ll say that some of the outcomes of certain situations were pretty predictable. But it kinda had to be in order to set up the flow of the story. I loved that the gaming world was expanded so much in seeing so many different Teams competing against one another. You begin to realize that Defiance is still rather “young” in terms of what they’ve accomplished in their careers. Plus, Holly Jennings really amped up the intensity of the challenges and the action of the story. I was on the edge of my seat for the final showdowns because in the end when it came down to the wire of who would win it was anyone’s guess.
I really enjoyed this second book. Where the first book I felt had a more solid ending, this one definitely throws down the Gauntlet.
Sexual content: sex