Thursday, March 8, 2012

Galax-Arena by Gillian Rubinstein

Galax-Arena is: Hunger Games marries Cirque Du Soliel and they have a baby. That baby grows up and meets Enders Game and they have a baby. Except the grandbaby was published way back in 1993! Feels really fresh--it fits in so nicely with all of the Hunger Games spin offs that it makes me wonder if Suzanne Collins was inspired by it!

Joella and her brother Peter and her sister Liane are kidnapped and shipped across the universe to live as acrobatic performers for the Vexa, an alien race who get their kicks watching them and the other child performers defy death on the trapeze over and over...except when death isn't defied at all. That's what the Vexa live for.

All of them want to escape, but there's no where to escape to. The atmosphere is poisonous to humans, and Hythe, the Vexa's hired hand, is always there, ready to bend their hearts by praise or their knees by punishment. Throw in a psychic power, some deep observations about the power of information, and a serious twist, and you've got it. If there wasn't a real adult with a job (my husband!) living in our house, I would have stayed up last night and finished it.

Content-wise, there is some language, including the "B-word," the S-word, and at least one GD. There isn't any sexuality. The kids are involved in some serious power struggles, but it's not as violent throughout as Ender's Game, though there are several deaths and one mob-attack murder. It's not a light read, in other words, but in the thematic context (that people lose something more valuable than life itself when they only think about their own survival,) I didn't have a problem with it. I haven't decided yet if I will let my 11 yo son read it. Yeah, I think I will.

One more thing worth noting is that the performers didn't have a language in common, so they speak a pidgin language, similiar to "Clockwork Orange," but there's a glossary in the front and I enjoyed that aspect. I did have to say a few words outloud to figure out what was meant. Just thought it worth mentioning...

Anybody else read this? It seems to have gotten good reviews, won some big awards in Australia (where the author lives), but none of my goodreads friends have read it. I'm shocked, honestly. All you dystopian sci-fi people will love it!

Happy reading!

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