New York. 2120. American has been decimated, wiped out from the second Civil War. In this post-apocalyptic world, survivors are far and few between. And most of those who do survive are members of the violent gangs, predators who live in the big cities. They patrol the countryside looking for slaves, for fresh victims to bring back into the city for their favorite death sport: Arena One. The death stadium where opponents are made to fight to the death, in the most barbaric of ways. There is only one rule to the arena: no one survives. Ever.
Deep in the wilderness, high up in the Catskill Mountains, 17 year old Brooke Moore manages to survive, hiding out with her younger sister, Bree. They are careful to avoid the gangs of slaverunners who patrol the countryside. But one day, Brooke is not as careful as she can be, and Bree is captured. The slaverunners take her away, heading to the city, and to what will be a certain death.
Brooke, a Marine’s daughter, was raised to be tough, to never back down from a fight. When her sister is taken, Brooke mobilizes, uses everything at her disposal to chase down the slaverunners and get her sister back. Along the way she runs into Ben, 17, another survivor like her, whose brother was taken. Together, they team up on their rescue mission.
What follows is a post-apocalyptic, action-packed thriller, as the two of them pursue the slaverunners on the most dangerous ride of their lives, following them deep into the heart of New York. Along the way, if they are to survive, they will have to make some of the hardest choices and sacrifices of their lives, encountering obstacles neither of them had expected—including their unexpected feelings for each other. Will they rescue their siblings? Will they make it back? And will they, themselves, have to fight in the arena?
This book had a very promising beginning. I’m a sucker for dystopian novels, but this one left me feeling like I’d watched a bad Liam Neeson movie. The plot was decent, but the main character, Brooke, is a 17-year-old girl who is living in the Catskills with only her younger sister to care for and keep her company. Fortunately for Brooke and her sister, her Marine father just so happened to teach her how to shoot guns and to drive both motorcycles and standards, so she’s all set. He basically turned her into an overall survivalist, all before the age of fourteen, so she’s totally capable of taking names and kicking ass. Except, wow that’s not realistic at all. I just felt like Brooke’s character wasn’t realistic, like she was designed to fit too perfectly into the author’s vision for the plot (which by the way, wasn’t very engaging).
The first few chapters of this book had me absorbed, but I found myself just waiting for the book to be over. The author is also overly descriptive in my opinion and uses a series of ridiculous similes in every other sentence. This book had potential, but overall I was very disappointed. I would give this book two out of five stars. A more patient reader than myself might enjoy this more than I did.