Girl in the Area by Lisa Haines
Set in an alternate present, Girl in the Arena, is a lightly veiled commentary on the state of politics today, with the decline of social and moral ethics thrown in for good measure. Lyn the daughter of seven gladiators and a career glad wife, is living the double edged sword. Shunned by normal kids, revered in the media, she is the model of glad life. But living in perpetual morning, and having to adhere strict gladiator bylaws is slowly killing her mother. Lyn wants be more than yet another stepford GSA wife. When the last of her fathers die, Lyn finds herself being pushed into an impossible situation by the increasingly corrupt GSA. With a manic mother, and an autistic brother, Lyn must decided if she can give up on her own ideals to become a glad wife and take care of her family, lose everything, or find another way to support them.
Haines weaves her social commentary with old as new ideas, creating a satire of not knowing our own history, therefore repeating societies mistakes. I like how Haines created a subculture based on gladiators, using classical elements to highlight modern day issues. I think it was clever how she used the capitalism, media, and technology to illustrate the problems it perpetuates in our world of commercialism, reality tv, celebrity, and in turn skews societies moral perspective.
All that said though I was disappointed with part of the path Lyn took I would have liked to have seen more action, Lyn become a real gladiator. She was at peace in the ring, could have become a hero, and really take the GSA down. The ending was a real let down, with a lukewarm love story ending, to an under developed love triangle. Even the whole situation with the Gladiator Sports Association was a soft conclusion. I had high hopes for Lyn but in the end she didn’t become the shining example of feminism I thought she would be, she barely got her freedom, and stability, plus the romance was way to timid and ifie.
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