Read Gauntlet by Holly Jennings Online


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 wPlug 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…...

Title : Gauntlet
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9781101988954
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 436 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Gauntlet Reviews

  • Carrie
    2019-07-03 09:59

    Gauntlet is the second book of the Arena series by Holly Jennings. In the first book, Arena, we met Kali Ling who had achieved her lifelong dream of becoming a professional gamer in the Virtual Gaming League’s RAGE tournaments. The league has the best players in the world competing weekly in virtual reality tournaments, the weapons are digital but the pain is real for the players. They eat, sleep and breathe their training and workouts. However the players also lived the rock star lifestyle with partying and drugs and it cost the life of one of Kali's teammates. Now in Gauntlet Kali is still overcoming her teammates death and she has taken control of her life and her virtual gamer teammates by becoming the team owner and hopefully cleaning up the drugs and partying. There is now a new tournament going on that is bringing the top athletes in gaming from all over the world to compete that uses new VR pods that adapt every time a gamer makes a move bringing the players to their physical and psychological brink.The further I get into this series the more I have actually been enjoying the world and characters that the author has created. The story takes on a tough subject of the young athletes getting involved in drugs and alcohol and digs deep into that subject even into the second book which makes this fantasy world deal with a real life problem while still entertaining a reader with the virtual gaming and fantasy elements. Kali is a very likable character that has many different demons to battle and a lot to live up to. Watching her grow and struggle is certainly intriguing and you can't help but to root for her to find her way and develop an inner strength. The rest of Kali's team also have their struggles in this edition that gave them more depth and had them stepping up as individuals more so than in the first book so I was quite happy with getting to know them better this time around. Overall, highly enjoying this young adult fantasy series about virtual gaming. Looking forward to reading the next book and seeing what else is in store for Kali and her friends and teammates. I received an advance copy from the publisher via NetGalley.For more reviews please visit https://carriesbookreviews.wordpress....

  • Mogsy (MMOGC)
    2019-07-17 13:21

    3.5 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum ready, because it’s time to enter the arena again. Gauntlet is everything a reader dreams of in a sequel—bigger world, higher stakes, and even more dangerous and violent challenges. I had a really good time with the first book, but at the same time I was also curious to see how this follow-up would build on its potential and whether or not it would improve on a few of the weaknesses.Quite a lot has happened since the end of Arena. With her RAGE tournament winnings and money she made from her new found fame, our protagonist Kali Ling has returned to buy out Defiance, becoming the captain and owner of her gaming team. When the story begins, Kali is troubled by a new development that has been sweeping the virtual gaming world—a house. Though in truth, this “house” is more of a colossal mansion. Nicknamed “The Wall”, it sits nestled on a sprawling estate sealed away from the public. For weeks, rumors have been flying around that the best gaming teams from around the world have been invited inside, but no one knows what goes on during these visits. Wild parties? Drugs? Not knowing is driving Kali crazy, and yet she can’t help but keep up with the coverage to see which gaming superstars will show up at the mansion next.Little did she expect, however, that soon her own team would be getting their chance to visit The Wall. The elusive owner of the mansion turns out to be the CEO of Tamachi Industries, a tech giant which has developed a new kind of gaming pod which, if effective, could change the face of virtual gaming forever. Now the company is on the cusp of revealing their product to the world, and they’re planning to do it with style—by organizing a huge tournament where the best teams from around the globe will be competing for prestige and the grand prize in the form of a nine-figure check. Like all the others before them, Defiance has been asked to meet with Mr. Tamachi at his mansion so he can extend an invitation to join his tournament. Would Kali wish to accept? Well, I think we all know the answer to that.To start, there were some nice improvements over the first book, and probably the biggest one is the characterization of Kali herself. She is noticeably more mature in Gauntlet, having taken over the responsibilities of being Defiance’s owner. In the aftermath of her recovery with drug addiction, she has also made it her personal mission to keep herself and the team clean, happy, and healthy—even if it means she has to play the mother hen once in a while. Still, on the whole I enjoyed seeing these changes to her personality because they made her a much more likeable protagonist. No longer is she the angry and impetuous teenager she was in Arena; now her thought processes have shifted towards being more level-headed and rational, as well as much less self-centered. As a bonus, for all the scenes we get to watch Defiance kicking ass in-game, we also get to spend plenty of time outside the virtual world watching them grow closer as a team and a family. These were all changes that pleased me.That said, this book still has strong “Young Adult” vibes attached to it, which if you did not enjoy in Arena, chances are you will also find this sequel problematic. Again, the logic behind the premise is a little shaky and may require a bit of a stretch in imagination. There’s also a romantic side plot that takes up a lot of the focus, and I felt that many of the story’s conflicts are inflated when they are actually very trivial or easily solved. In addition, we did not see an expansion in the scope of storytelling; everything is still seen through the limited sphere of the gaming world behind Kali’s eyes, and as much as she has matured, this bubble is apparently still all she knows. Gaming is like the only thing that exists to her, i.e. in her mind, the only news worth following is gaming news, no one else in the world has any interests besides following virtual gaming tournaments and their players, gamers are the gods of the human race, etc. On a character level, it made her feel somewhat shallow, and on a world-building level, it also meant less of what I’d hoped to see in this sequel.Still, the story was loads of fun. Just like Arena, the plot was a bit simplistic and predictable, but it also had a lot more action and grit. If you enjoyed the feverish, frenzied tone of the RAGE tournaments in the first book, then I guarantee you’ll love how Holly Jennings has stepped up her game (no pun intended) in Gauntlet. And if you’re gamer, you’ll probably get even more out of the book’s atmosphere and references to games and gamer culture.Overall, I was very satisfied with this sequel. While a few of the stumbling blocks from the first book have carried over, in general I felt there were many more areas which have been improved. Gauntlet once again fits my perfect definition of pure entertainment—dynamic, fast-paced, and gripping. I sure hope we’ll be seeing more of Kali and Defiance, because it would be so cruel of Holly Jennings to leave us hanging with that ending! I can’t wait to catch up with the team again in the pages of the next book.

  • Grimm
    2019-07-03 11:16

    Wow. WOOOOOOOOW. Get ready, for this spoiler (kinda?) free review. Press Start to Begin. . .HOLY FRIGGEN' FRIG! I read Holly Jennings first book Arena a while back since a friend had recommended it to me. I was looking for something similar to Ready Player One by Ernest Cline and I was pointed in the Arena direction. I must admit, it wasn't the book I was expecting. Probably because I was expecting Ready Player One and that's mainly my brains fault.Once I heard Gauntlet was on it's way, I was promised a different take on the series. I didn't fully enjoy the first book due to the lack of "gameplay" and the main focus of relationship building. After skimming through Arena quickly before I started Gauntlet. I was ready.Just kidding, I wasn't ready for this amazing book. Halp. Can't breathe. ANYWAY! This book delivered everything everyone had asked for. The relationship building was still there but it wasn't the main focus. I did enjoy the romance and the team building a bit more because it relied more on the tournament. I loved that because a lot of the situations the characters were dealing with, I could relate to most of them. *SPOILER*A lot of the characters are forced to face their biggest fears. Their mental struggles were all put against them and how they overcame all those obstacles was inspiring. You see a lot of characters begin to open up and show another side of them. I was really happy to get more involved with the other teammates and even the other teams in the competition. It made the world become more in-depth and by the end of it, I felt like I couldn't read fast enough to find out what happened next.The end game was awesome too. Holly's writing and her ability to make the fight scenes, the wounds characters gain, the game itself, feel like it's alive and like you're actually there.*END SPOILER* I've never seen an author fully transform a book series this well. She took the feedback Arena received and resolved a lot of the complaints with Gauntlet. My one complaint was the HUGE slap in the face cliff hanger. But in a way, WELL DONE HOLLY. You made me angry in the sense I have to wait for the next part of the series. I find when authors have grasped my attention like that, they've done an impeccable job. I absolutely love story telling and crave a good one. Gauntlet provided and it's perfect for every gamer out there.If you're not a gamer, you still might enjoy the book if you like the Sci-Fi genres but gamers will definitely love it more. I recommend this book 100% and I would also say read Arena. It will build this book's emotion up waaaay more. 5 Stars <3Love, Grimm

  • Shelley
    2019-06-21 12:55

    *Source* Publisher*Genre* Science Fiction*Rating* 4.0*My Thoughts*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.*Full Review @ Gizmos Reviews

  • Kimberly
    2019-07-17 10:03

    My review cross-posted from Wit and Sin: falling in love with Holly Jennings’s intense, exciting world of virtual gaming in Arena, I had extremely high hopes for its sequel. Gauntlet was everything I’d hoped for and more. It’s imaginative, addictive, and tense. You never know what will be thrown at Kali and her team next, and that’s just the way I like it.Kali Ling, the youngest team owner in the history of virtual games, is out to change the world of gaming. In a world where gamers are celebrities, their images managed, their moves dictated, and their addictions covered up, Kali is determined to have a team that’s clean, honest, and the players can be exactly who they are. But being a manager is a hell of a lot harder than being a captain. Kali’s drowning trying to be a manager, player, and friend, and that’s without the added problem that her actions have pissed off the Virtual Gaming League. Even with all that on her shoulders, Kali has another new challenge: her team has been invited to play in a new all-star tournament. But this game is unlike any anyone has ever seen. It learns, it adapts, and it will push Kali and her teammates to their very limits, both physically and psychologically.Like Arena, Gauntlet is suspenseful, engaging, and just plain cool. The added twist of the new game that learns and adapts (plus a few other elements I can’t reveal without spoiling the story) upped the ante. The obstacles facing Kali, Rooke, Hannah, Lily, and Derek forces them to grow, and I loved watching them develop as characters and come together even closer as a team. While Kali is the heart and soul of the book, I cared about each member of team Defiance and loved seeing more of their true selves come out.Compelling characters aside, I loved the new challenges thrown Kali, both in the game and outside of it. I enjoy not knowing what’s coming next, loved facing each new challenge alongside Kali. Her frustration, pain, and determination were palpable and had me reading late into the night, wanting to see what she would do next. I hated having to put Gauntlet down, and my only complaint is that the end of the book left me on the edge of my seat, eager to see what happens next.It’s difficult to write about Gauntlet without revealing things that would spoil the story. The fun is in not knowing what obstacles Defiance faces and what internal and external challenges they will have to overcome. I’m not a gamer, but I loved all the detail Ms. Jennings has put into her elaborate world of virtual gaming. The Arena series is vivid and wonderfully entertaining. I can’t wait to see where Ms. Jennings takes Defiance next!FTC Disclosure: I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

  • All Things Urban Fantasy
    2019-06-29 12:22

    Review courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy.Sexual content: Non-explicit sex sceneGAUNTLET is all about seeking a balance -- in life and in virtual reality. After exposing the corruption within the Virtual Gaming League, Kali Ling has a placed a target on her back. It turns out that owning a team is expensive, demanding, and a lot more responsibility than expected. In GAUNTLET, Kali learns there’s a huge difference in being a player and being an owner. She now has to worry about the image of her teammates and the narrative that the media creates about them. When Team Defiance is invited to participate with new, artificial intelligence gaming system, they can’t turn down the shot at winning the grand prize.The novel takes place in the future but the themes of addiction and cyberbullying are still very relevant. Kali Ling is still struggling with her addiction from the first novel. There’s no easy fixes. Her addiction is always there, just one bad night away. She aims for calm and serenity but sometimes it’s easier to just throw a phone against the wall. The book also addresses the toll of being a female public figure. Whether it’s being a gamer, a celebrity, or an athlete, women are held to a higher standard. When gossip and rumours about Team Defiance start, it’s not a surprise that they impact the female members of the team harder than others.There are no pained silences in this book. All characters are quick to share their feelings. It’s refreshing but can drag down the action. You just want the character to get back into the arena. Even though it’s clear that in-game warfare has no real world repercussions, the fights are well-written and suspenseful. Reading GAUNTLET is a lot like getting lost in a video game. It’s engrossing enough to make-up for any problems. Even if you’re a casual gamer, the pop culture references are easy to pick up. For non-gamers, Holly Jennings is quick to explain any important lore. While there is an obvious comparison to the Hunger Games series, GAUNTLET is a fun read that stands on its own.

  • Erica Chilson
    2019-07-10 10:00

    I received a copy of this title to read and review for Wicked Reads 5 I-couldn’t-put-the-book-down StarsYoung Adult age-range: 12+, depending on the maturity of the reader. Virtual-reality game violence. Mild cussing. Kissing. Fade-to-black sexual situations. Addiction. After reading Arena about a year ago, I feared being lost at the start of Gauntlet, but the two books flowed together seamlessly, with no confusion to be had. Without giving away spoilers… what a thrill ride! I was gripped the entire time, feverishly clicking the pages to know what happened next. At the end, I wanted more immediately. Kali is a strong role model throughout. After making mistakes in Arena, compassionate and fierce Kali is trying to protect her team at all costs. An unknown location surrounded by publicity, catering to professional virtual-gamers, The Wall is in her hometown- at the start of the novel, she tries to figure out how this will affect her and her people, which spirals into the major plot… one I won’t spoil. As a new team owner, Kali has to deal with political maneuverings, sponsors, image, misbehaving teammates, and the publicity surrounding it all. The very reason she bought a team is slipping through her fingers as she tries to play their game by their rules, losing herself in the process. As for romance, the gossip-mongers are using false reports to tear Kali and her team apart, but some of the strife comes from within. These situations and emotions were very real, hitting human nature. There was a large thread dealing with the drug HP. One of the closest teammates is addicted, struggling, and Kali has to be the tough-love, refusing to be the enabler after they all lost Nathan in the last installment. Now, let’s get to the gaming…WOW. I am beyond impressed at the level of imagination the author uses within Gauntlet. As the reader, I could envision the game arena with lifelike accuracy. Fantasy readers shouldn’t have any issue connecting to this portion. But, for those of us who are gamers, we’ll ‘get’ it and be totally immersed into the heart-pounding action. With this new ‘development’, I was unsure whether or not what happened in the arena wouldn’t affect them outside of it. With the political maneuverings targeting Defiance, I wasn’t so sure they’d respawn, wake up in their pods, or just be poof. This lent to a thrill ride of epic proportions. Recommended: Young adults and the young at heart gamers will appreciate this book. Gamers of all ages who do not read could most likely be swayed into giving it a try, which would most likely turn them into avid readers. When a person doesn’t like to read, it’s usually because they haven’t found the right book to flip that switch in their brains. Parents, if you have gamers kids, I’d give this series a try to see if they will catch the reading bug. Adults who love to read but your partner doesn’t, maybe they’re always playing video games (lol) buy them this book and read it together. While the series is narrated by a female, Kali, she is fierce, flawed, and rational enough to appeal to all genders. I cannot wait for the next in the series. The next book’s setup in Gauntlet gives me the feeling it’s going to be the most epic of them all.

  • Jacque
    2019-06-27 08:53

    I've never really been into gaming so what possessed me to want to read Gauntlet I have no clue. Okay, I do know - the blurb. Dangerous world. Winner-takes-all. Female captain and youngest team owner. Things much more terrifying than death… Yeah, that and lots more grabbed my attention. I needed a break from all the romance I've been reading lately and even though I haven't read the first book in the Arena series, this book by Holly Jennings looked to fill the bill.Wow, just WOW! Gauntlet blew me away and once I started reading I couldn't put it down. Kali Ling is strong and incredible as both a team owner and a player. The author really managed to capture all her strengths and flaws as she worked through the problems she faced. Not just Kali but all the characters. They start together, struggle, stumble then come back together as not just a team but as a family.Let's talk graphics! The attention to detail that some authors use can sometimes be wording and boring, however, since we are talking virtual worlds, detail is a must. I could just see it all so vividly in my mind. See, the thing I love about books like Gauntlet are the possibilities, the chances that something like this, the technology and its future could really happen. That makes them so much more real for me. Ms. Jennings description of the gaming worlds she created astounded me and yes I could really see it happening.The real winner is the story itself. Twisting, turning with heart-pounding action, the struggles Kali and her team go through, the world of virtual gaming, the new pods, the truths they hold, and everything else in between. I thought I would miss out by not having read the previous book but the reality is the author did a great job of keeping the reader informed of what happened previously. The finale of the game is spectacular and is only topped by a cliffy that had me screaming. I'm not 100% sure that I will restart the series from the beginning, but I know that I'll be looking for the next book. I received this book from the JeepDiva for the express purposes of an honest review. The opinions and rating of this review are solely mine.Stars - 5, Flames - 1.5

  • Cale Dietrich
    2019-07-02 08:53

    This was EPIC.Ahh I’m so satisfied as a fan right now. I’m a huge fan of Jennings' debut, ARENA, which I thought was so exciting and introduced me to one of my favourite heroines, the marvellous and badass Kali Ling. So I had the usual worries I have before starting any sort of follow up to one of my favourite books – would it be as good? I shouldn’t have worried, because this book is freaking awesome. It’s an intense and thoughtful thrill-ride filled with great writing, fun action scenes, and heaps of heart. One of my favourite things about this book was the gameplay. I love the fight scenes in ARENA, but I’m glad this one shakes things up. The games are now capture the flag battles set in a cyberpunk-style futuristic city, WHICH WAS SO COOL. Jennings' writing is incredibly cinematic, and I totally loved being immersed in this incredible setting. Additionally, the games themselves now change as the tournament progresses, so no one battle in GAUNTLET is the same. I won’t spoil it, but the team is constantly having new things thrown at them. Like new rules, new obstacles, and even deadly NPCS. The NPCs in this are seriously my fave. I won’t spoil what they are, but I think they’re awesome and were really inventive (and terrifying!).The characters I grew to love in book one are also all back and all have moments to shine. Kali is her incredible self. She’s more in control in this book, and I loved watching her grow into an amazing leader. I also loved Derek in this one – he was hilarious, and also charming and just great. He stole the show a few times in this one! This is fantastic sequel to ARENA, and an amazing book on its own. It’s a super fun and action packed book with a lot to say. I’m pretty obsessed with this series, and I really hope there’s a third book.

  • Kathleen Townsend
    2019-06-28 07:01

    Never have I seen a second novel in a series so completely outdo the first in nearly every way. I'll be honest here. I probably wouldn’t have picked up Gauntlet by Holly Jennings if the publisher hadn’t sent me a digital copy. I found Arena, the first book in the series, disappointing. I could see the potential within the novel and desperately wanted to love it, but found it fell short of the mark. I was hesitant to start reading Gauntlet.It is immediately obvious that author has grown as a writer. Gauntlet is an exciting, suspenseful, near future sci-fi that will have you rooting for Kali and Team Defiance all the way. I am eagerly awaiting the next book in the series. Because dear lord, people, that cliffhanger!Nearly all of my gripes with the first book are addressed and fixed in this one. Not all of them, maybe. There were one or two things which still bothered me a bit, and one was most definitely mentioned in my review of the previous book.While the first book follows Kali as she struggles with overcoming addiction, the sudden death of her boyfriend and teammate, and winning the RAGE tournament, this one takes a bit of a different turn. Kali is now owner of her own team, Defiance, which she is still acting captain of. Now Kali has new problems – how to pay her teammates and employees, how to please the sponsors, how to deal with a teammates relapse, all while staying true to her beliefs and attempts to clean up the pro-gaming circuit. On top of that, there’s a new type of immersion pod directed by an advanced AI instead of real people at real terminals and a new surprise tournament the inventors are hosting. Team Defiance will now have to compete against the best teams in the world, including Kali’s role model.The stakes feel much higher in this book. The scope moves from solely on Kali and her own very personal struggles to the team at large and how her actions affect her friends and the gaming community at large. The stakes are higher. There’s a lot more on the line than Kali’s health or dignity or even the success of the team within the tournament. There are very real enemies Kali must fight. But these aren’t the sort of villains we have in, say, high fantasy. There is no Sauron to destroy here. Instead, we have a press intent on destroying their reputation, corrupt tournament officials who would rather see Kali and her principles out of the league than change their own morals and standards, and an AI that seems to be somehow targeting Team Defiance. Things that have no visible beginning or end. Things that can’t be fought the way that Kali and her team fight their enemies while in-game.Something that bothered me about the first book was that it didn’t feel as if the story was set quite as far in the future as it was. There were very little indications that the world was much different than it is now. Gauntlet felt much more sci-fi than Arena. While not included in any sort of overabundance, it was obvious that Kali doesn’t live in the world of today, or even the next handful of years. This helped make the world feel more real, like it really was forty years in the future where the dreams of today are finally being realized while still having some stubborn holdover tech from today.Now, one of the biggest issues I had with the first book was the presentation of the game itself. Standard gaming features were missing. There was no menu system, among other things. While there still doesn’t seem to be any way for the players to manually log themselves out of the game, which sounds both terrifying and potentially problematic, some of these issues are addressed with the new version of total immersion pods introduced here. The handling of things by an AI not only makes the game more interesting as a viewer (and readers), but takes out some of the inherent problems with using real flesh and blood coders to create in-game enemies and scenarios in real time as Kali and the others are plugged in as well. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Programmers aren’t gods. They can’t magic a scenario and enemies with a few quick strokes of a keyboard all while monitoring the player’s condition and needs. Using the AI cuts out the vast majority of these issues. While it doesn’t seem apparent that there is any way to log out of the game short of dying, the AI does improve the game.The other characters were also more prevalent here. In the last book the characters seen the most were Kali, obviously, since the series is from her point of view, and Rooke. Here, we get a lot more time with the rest of the team. It’s nice to see these characters developed a bit more. None of them seemed as thin or one dimensional as they did in the first book. Each of them struggles with their own demons. They all have pasts, hobbies, and lives and personalities outside of gaming and Team Defiance. Interpersonal relations suffer and are reforged throughout the novel. It isn't just Kali struggling this time. Its all of them.Despite all of this happening at once, the pacing never suffers. We see more of the characters interact without the action stopping altogether to do so. There is more focus on Kali’s teammates and their struggles, but we never stop to, say, switch points of view. Everything is viewed through Kali’s eyes, both as a friend and as team owner. She gets involved when she must, either with a shoulder to lean on as a friend or as an owner when she has to put her foot down on a matter. It’s a thin line between friendship and boss she straddles and, though it is apparent she doesn’t know what she’s doing, she does it with a fervor that is very admirable.I honestly didn’t think I’d say this, but I really enjoyed Gauntlet by Holly Jennings. It was fun. There was a palatable sense of suspense. In-game fights were quick, brutal, and fun to read. I am beyond ecstatic that so much of the potential I saw in the author as a freelance editor was more fully realized in this novel. If you were just meh about Arena, pick up Gauntlet, and I promise you that you’ll be pleasantly surprised. If you like YA novels, especially YA sci-fi, you should pick up this series. If you don’t like YA novels or don’t like books with video game related plots this might not be the book for you.This review and more can be found on Looking Glass Reads.Book received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

  • Elizabeth Tammi
    2019-06-21 13:06

    “Familiar paths end at the edge of your comfort zone. So, if you don’t know where you’re going, you’re already headed the right way.” In the 2050s, virtual gaming is the ultimate immersive experience. Gamers are completely a part of a digital world, where they wield the weapons and deliver the blows themselves. The line between the virtual world and the real one is dangerously thin.Nobody knows that better than Kali Ling, the first female gamer to own her own competing team. But she’s faced that battle, and through the help of her teammates– particularly the mysterious Rooke– she’s working to change the stigmas and reveal the secrets of the virtual gaming world forever.In the second installment of Arena, Kali and her team are invited an elusive location– The Wall. The best teams from around the world have been invited, but the secrets within the complex will literally change the game. Her team is front-and-center at the biggest and most revolutionary tournament the gaming world has ever seen. Combined with the crippling responsibilities of owning a team, Kali has the odds stacked against her.Gauntlet continues the exciting story started in Arena. Kali’s blunt first-person narration is equal parts bold and engaging, and carries the story along with an easy blend of humor and honest reckonings. The stakes have raised in this installment, and the new characters introduced bring intense side-plots and interesting motivations with them.Meanwhile, the old characters do maintain their trademark personalities and ploys into the second book, with new developments to keep them engaging. The writing style is sometimes erratic and borderline juvenile, but still effectively carries this brilliantly created world of virtual gaming. Sign me up anytime!Review copy provided by PenguinTeen.

  • Amy A
    2019-07-05 05:07

    Originally posted at Vampire Book ClubIt’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.

  • Melanie Bernard
    2019-07-08 09:04

    I received this free physical ARC from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.Full Immersion GamingNeed I really say more? :p This is the new big thing and is going to become even bigger in our lifetimes, but most importantly, it sets the stage for a whole new world of gaming technology. This series shows us that world. It shows us what life could be like if full immersion technology became real and I love it! I love all of it: both the good and the bad! You’ll have to read to find out what those are, though. :pThe Original’s Always BetterTo be honest, I didn’t like this book quite as much as the original. The plot was different. The stakes were different. The challenges were different, but it just didn’t have the same umpf and pizzazz as the first novel in the series. Still, it was quite a fun read!Bring in the AIAs a science fiction writer, I would never venture into AI tech. It’s complicated to write and build (and I oppose it in real life.) However, Holly Jennings did an amazing job implementing it into the story. It was realistic. It enhanced the plot. It had the same sinister aspect many skeptics often associate with AI and it made this book a whole different ball game from the first.Pick up the PaceI was a little disappointed with how slow this book moved. Not because it was drawn out. The plot actually moved at a pretty good clip, but I think the reason it felt slow was because of how the tension in the book didn’t build the way I thought it would.It had a slow build, never quite reaching a climax, until the last few chapters of the book and then it piled on. I wasn’t a big fan of this. The contrast was too great, making the sudden climax feel a bit overwhelming.The Ending(no spoilers)I love the ending! I hate the ending! It was exactly what I wanted it to be and yet, it made me soooo mad! That is all I’m going to say on this… Suckers. *smirk*

  • Jasmine
    2019-07-11 06:57

    Wow, this was certainly a step-up from Arena. A bigger world and bigger challenge, with Team Defiance facing both old enemies and new ones in the virtual gaming world. I really hope there's a third book in this series, as I can't wait to see what Kali & the team do next.Thanks to Berkley Publishing for the eARC.

  • Suzie
    2019-06-26 11:06

    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.Woo. Wow. Another round complete. So much fun. Not as much fun as Arena, but damn. This was phenomenal. What I loved about Kali was her endless amount of spice, salt, sauce, spunk and sass. All of that. And then some. God, she was one sassy hardass. And I just loved to eat it all up. She seemed to lack all of that in this book. She still had her biting remarks, sure, but somehow she lost a lot of her spunk, her grit.Most of my love for the first book was because of her. With her sassiness being stripped away, it was less of a joyride for me. She was still compassionate as hell, and she wins gold stars for that, but man, what happened to her death threats that actually carried weight? She seemed to be blindly throwing out threats without actually owning up to them. And then, the inevitable happened. What was completely (and quite admirably so) devoid in the first book, showed up repeatedly in this book. Those damn ex-machinas. I don't enjoy dishing out ex-machinas, and I don't like seeing them in books (especially those with so much potential). Yeah sure the team went through hell in this book. And I now love Derek and Hannah and Lily to bits now, but could we have mitigated the shit the team went through, so that we didn't have to pull any ex-machinas? Major props to the creative ways to incorporate classic game elements into a futuristic VR system. There were a lot more recognized here than in the first book. In here, the in-game elements were so spot on I literally felt as if I was the one facing them in the game. Those damned timed jumps, damn you. So. Now the question that's burning through everyone's minds. IS THERE GOING TO BE A SEQUEL? Because there damn well better be. The author did not have to leave it off like that. Honestly I was quite surprised that a bomb so big dropped literally two pages before the end--so that we're all left scrambling around to figure out what just happened. But I know it's so she could prepare for a sequel. Which is still pretty up in the air. At the very least, could there be an alternate ending written in a novella? Or some kind of epilogue? Please. I need. Minus the last two pages, this would have been a solid conclusion to the series. Honestly I was content with how the first book ended, but hey, if there's another excuse to read about sassy Kali and oh-so-lovable Derek, I'd take it in a heartbeat.If there is a sequel, I'd hope for the same spark Arena carried. I loved many parts of both books, and both have their strengths, but there was just something so thrilling from the first book, that I couldn't put it down.Besides that, serious combo points to the author for another incredible book. Familiar paths end at the edge of your comfort zone. So, if you don’t know where you’re going, you’re already headed the right way.

  • Champaign Public Library
    2019-07-10 11:01

    Recommended by Emilie B.Many sequels fall short of their predecessors, and this certainly was a worry with a first novel that can easily stand-alone such as Arena. However, Gauntlet was delightfully surprising, while still holding onto many of the things that made Arena such an enjoyable read, making it a more-than-worthwhile continuation of the series. We start with Kali having returned to Defiance, this time at the team’s owner, and with Rooke notably missing from the team roster. The gaming industry is still reeling from the spectacle Defiance caused last season, and Kali is struggling with the pressures of being owner, captain, and teammate. At the same time, a new mystery has appeared in the form of The Wall, a mansion owned by technology giant Tamachi Industries. Elite gaming teams from around the world are being invited, and not-so-subtly snuck, into The Wall, and what goes on once they are inside, no one knows. Though things start off slowly, the mystery of The Wall pulls us into the plot quickly enough. The time-skip may be disappointing to those who wanted to read about how Kali got to the point of purchasing Defiance, though it does leave additional questions to keep us engaged throughout the book. Many of the core parts of the first novel’s plot reappear: there is a tournament where Team Defiance is fighting against unspeakable odds, unable to lose even once, and again there are struggles with addiction and the balancing of sponsor needs with the Team’s own well-being. Despite this, the stakes are raised more from in Arena by stronger opponents both inside the game and out. Gauntlet holds true to what made Arena such an addicting and wonderful read, while not falling into the trap of being a retelling of the same plot again. Instead, it introduces new challenges and a focus that breathes into it new life and raises the stakes higher than before. If you’ve read Arena, certainly pick up the sequel when it comes out on April 4th, and if you haven’t, what are you waiting for?An e-arc of Gauntlet was provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review

  • Lannie Dasal
    2019-06-20 05:55

    "Never bow down to the world. Always make it bow down to you."Arc provided by Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Full review to come March 28, 2017.Gauntlet is the follow-up book to Arena, a world centering around competitive gaming. This isn't normal gaming though, it's virtual reality where all the pain is real and groups of five fight to reign victorious in front of millions of viewers.That insanely cool world and plot line are only the surface of this series though. Underneath, Holly Jennings goes deep into the world of drug addiction, relapse, and societal norms. After suffering the death of a teammate from heroine over dosage, Kali (the main character) struggles with her own addictions within this corrupt world. Now, she is not only the first female team owner, but she also has to deal with the publicity, media, and rumors swarming the team.Youtube | Blog | Tumblr | Goodreads

  • Emireland
    2019-07-10 08:10

    Most of the book is predictable. The championship in the end had some good twists.Likes: The twists in the games. Kali growing up a little by the end. She was really immature in the first third of the book that you had to wonder how she even got that far managing the team. She just seemed like a spoiled brat with a lot of money. I almost DNFed the book because I was getting fed up with her. I liked the little insights into the other of the team also. I wish she had expanded on that more.Dislikes: The whole Taoist/Asian storyline and the whole Los Angeles scene. It just seems very forced and shows very superficial knowledge of the Los Angeles city scene and the North American Asian culture. I wished she had brought in the actual BaGuaZhang exercise into the game instead of just the scenery. Other things that bothered me was while some of the technical advancement were interesting, they were unimaginative. They were just extensions of current innovations and not too far into the future at that, certainly not 2055.All in all, the book started slow but once the championships started, it went pretty fast.I think if Ms. Jennings just sticks to writing about gaming and the culture around it instead of trying to incorporate plot lines that she knows little about, her novels would be better. This book was generally well paced once I got over cringing through the first half of the book.Disclaimer: Received this book from the publisher for free through NetGalley

  • JeniReadABook
    2019-07-21 07:05

    If you read my review of Arena, you already know that I happened upon this series by chance. I didn't realize until I finished it that there is no more third book in the works. And honestly after reading a bit about that situation I have to say that I'm shocked that the author wasn't super invested in the series. It wasn't a labor of love...but it was still great. I guess it just proves that sometimes you're really good at something but you still don't enjoy doing it. LOLI honestly would have given this book 5 stars if not for the fact that there likely won't be a 3rd, and since the author didn't realize that when she finished it she left a few things hanging. If I had known I would have just not read the last chapter and the series would have been tied up neatly in a bow. However, I didn't know and neither did she, and so as a reader, I was left hanging a bit and feeling a little shorted since I won't find out how it all sorted out in the end. That being said, it was still a really good book, and I stand by my statement in the previous review that it definitely transcended the genre. If you're reading this before you read the book, do yourself a favor and just don't read the last chapter until/unless things change and Holly is able to write a 3rd book. :-)

  • Gustav
    2019-07-17 09:09

    Corruption, lies, and drugs define the Virtual Gaming League (VGL). In Holly Jennings' "Gauntlet," the sequel to "Arena," Kali Ling has finally become the owner of Team Defiance, just in time for an all-stars competition that will push the team, comprised of Kali, Lily, Hannah, Derek, and Rooke, to their breaking point both in and out of the game. Building on the previous book's themes, "Gauntlet" puts heavy heavy emphasis on friendship and the dangers of drug abuse. Many of the major plot points and twists rely on these themes. It seems as though Jennings is a big fan of situational irony, as it appears quite a bit through "Gauntlet." One of the most obvious cases is how Kali expects the team to have freedom to do what they want, but due to unexpected events, she controls their actions, just like the previous owner. "Gauntlet" has a varying tone. It can be extremely heartbreaking, like the loss of a match, or can be so lighthearted and funny that the reader can't help but laugh. "Gauntlet" keeps the reader engaged with twists every time they turn the page, exactly like it should, and fans of drama and science fiction will find much joy in "Gauntlet." Sometimes, everyone just needs friends that will be there for them, just like family.

  • Shay Williams
    2019-06-24 09:17

    I enjoy reading the occasional science fiction as long as it concentrates more on the people then the science itself. And GAUNTLET does just that and wonderfully.Kali really shook up the gaming industry when she brought out fact that industry feels that the gamers themselves are expendable. Because of her revelations, a new type of VR pod has been designed which is supposed to be safer for the gamer. And there is a tournament to welcome the new pod.GAUNTLET focuses on Kali but we also get the chance to really know her team as they work through the challenges thrown their way. They all have hidden strengths and fears that are brought into the limelight during the tournament.I really think that any of my readers who enjoy character driven sci-fi would love this book and in fact, this series. There is a lot of violence within the game so be forewarned.*** I received this book at no charge from NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions expressed within are my own.

  • Henry Lazarus
    2019-06-30 08:05

    Holly Jennings shows us a near future in which virtual reality gaming has become bigger than movies and other sports events. Small teams fight in virtual setting in which full sensations are transferred to their bodies in pods, allowing them to even feel their deaths. Kali Ling did so well her first year as the first female team captain, that she raised to money to buy her own team – something usually reserved to the ultra rich. She also exposed drug abuse problems and the VGL. A Japanese company has new pods that are safer and to promote their use, they sponsor a major tournament . VGL wants Kali’s team destroyed and they invite her in, only to make her team look bad. Thus Holly and her four teammates including an ex-lover have to face a Gauntlet (paper from Ace) of their base terrors in addition to fighting their opponents. This is a very exciting future sports tale and difficult to put down.Review printed by Philadelphia Weekly Press

  • Adam Fisher
    2019-07-15 10:04

    Jennings continues her Arena series by introducing a new element... an All-Star Tournament. Kali and her team, Defiance, are coming off the highs of winning the RAGE Tournament and training for the new season when they are invited to a private event at multi-billionaire Tamachi's house. It is there that new technology is unveiled: a virtual gaming rig that not only requires no programmers, but also allows the gamer to remain inside for much longer periods of time. Tamachi plans to use this in an all-star tournament, pulling in teams from around the world. What unfolds in this well-paced, well-written story is full of emotional and physical drama, excellently crafted fight scenes, and contains an over-arching reach towards ethics and espionage. Jennings has proven that her sophomore effort shows her growth as a writer. I hope to continue to see more from her in the future, perhaps even a 3rd book to this Arena saga. Well done! High recommend.

  • Rena
    2019-07-12 13:06

    Rated 3.5 starsThis is an exciting sequel to the first book. Here, Kali is now the owner/manager of her virtual gaming team. Not only is she a player, but now she has to deal with hiring/firing, sponsors and advertising, and the general keeping the team together. Her team has an opportunity to participate in an international competition, with a huge prize payout. This tournament uses advanced (and safer) technology and seems like a great way for Kali and the others to advance in the gaming world. But things aren't what they seem and it soon becomes dangerous for them. I liked how we see Kali's growth and maturity as she navigates her new roles with her team. Looking forward to the next book.

  • Alexa Nicole
    2019-06-20 12:55

    Loved reading this book, very well written and fast paced. Hard to put down! But in the end when kali decided to fight Jessica hand to hand when she KNEW K-rig was still in the game was eye rolling and annoying because you knew what would happen. And I don't care who you are, it was obvious she would've beaten Jessica and gave her the win so it wouldn't be "secret" or something she could hide. And giving up that much prize money meant she might not have been able to fund the team which wouldn't have happened. And to top it all off she acted like being banned at the end wasn't a big deal. Ugh I hate when a good book has a bad ending. Will still read the next one but hope it doesn't get as sappy and cliche as this one did at the end.

  • Alex (HEABookNerd)
    2019-07-10 11:15

    DNF @ 40% (8/24/17)I was so excited in the beginning of this one because I loved the idea of the new game and I was really hoping we would see something interesting with the AI component. However, I'm almost half way through and the game play is minimal and the whole story is about the personal problems the Defiance team is going through. I just couldn't take another problem, news/gossip story, or chance for Kali to struggle over what was right for the team. I'm really mad over how Rook is being portrayed in this one (view spoiler)[ He disappears from the team and never calls Kali (granted she doesn't call him either) and then when he rejoins the team, he fails a drug test. He's spent the first 40% being surly and unenjoyable (hide spoiler)]Find this and more on my blog:Happily Ever After Book Nerd["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>

  • Ryan
    2019-07-19 12:00

    DNF 25%. The ratings for this being so high, I really made an effort. I did. But, among other things, the author failed to rectify the main problem with the previous book: the world of Arena is basically now-plus-this-one-gimmick rather than any plausible 40-year future. It could almost be an alternate history! The fatal facepalm for me was being informed that after 10 years of full-immersion VR gaming, only just now did anyone get around to broadcasting the games in a VR format. Pairs well with the previous book's assertion that Kali's parents, both engineers born this century, had never used VR or apparently done much gaming. DPRK emigrants?

  • Heidi
    2019-07-09 06:08

    Great followup to "Arena," the first book of the series. Kali is young and tough, both the captain and owner of her virtual gaming team. She is lured into the hype of an international gaming tournament. Even as a non-gamer, I enjoyed this book immensely. High recommend.

  • Jason Rush
    2019-06-25 07:13

    Really enjoying this series, fun concept, great characters. If you're in the mood for some NA cyberpunk, check it out.

  • Peter Fiske
    2019-06-27 09:13

    First of all, I am not a gamer, in no way shape or form. Like it's predecessor, Arena, it an exciting look of gaming in the future. Thoroughly enjoyed an excellent book.