Best Debut Novel of 2016

Welcome to the very first edition of the brand new reading/blogging event that Flavia and I are hosting, Calendar Girls! It’s a monthly event designed to ignite bookish discussions between bloggers based on the monthly theme. For more information, check out my or Flavia’s launch posts!


January’s Theme:
Best Debut Novel of 2016

I read a lot of books in 2016, forty-six to be exact, and a handful of those were debut novels. In other words, this was not an easy decision to make. There were quite a few amazing debut novels out there, but I didn’t even have to think about my choice when I saw this one sitting in the list! That being said, my choice for best debut novel of 2016 is…

ARENA
by Holly Jennings

First off, I’m super biased when it comes to this book because I just love the concept: full immersion gaming! (But better than Ready Player One.) However, I have some very solid reasons for why I think this was the best debut.

First and foremost, this book is dark. I love dark fiction and this book wasn’t afraid to really delve into the more sinister pieces of one’s psyche or of fame. There are some very raw and real and it doesn’t shy away from anything. Rather, it lays them out in all their gruesome details to really show the reality behind the characters’ lives and struggles.

The second ties back into the first because it deals with the main character, Kali Ling, and her struggles. She is a female gamer in a male-dominated gaming industry. She is of Asian descent and has stereotypes thrust upon her by the media and her publicist. She is the captain of her gaming team and, because of the previous-stated characteristics, everyone is expecting her to fail. And the story deals with how Kali faces all of these items and other horrors of the gaming industry.

Anyone else read ARENA by Holly Jennings? If you haven’t, you should!
And the sequel, GAUNTLET, comes out in April!


Calendar Girls’ picks for Best Debut Novel of 2016

Flavia @Flavia The Bibliophile : Iron Cast
Mandy @Book Princess Reviews : The Star-Touched Queen
The Reality Bug Book Blog : Ever the Hunted
Lauren @ Two Birds, One Blog : The Immortals
Matxi @ Matxi reads Books : Stalking Jack the Ripper


February Theme: Best Romance in YA ❤

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28 thoughts on “Best Debut Novel of 2016

  1. I’ve been a wreck this 2017 hehe!! But finally here’s my entry!!!
    https://matxibooks.wordpress.com/2017/01/17/calendar-girls-january/

    So I still have Ready Player One pending and that would be my first every scifi story with virtual games on it, it still sounds a bit strange to me though! So this one is dark… I like that in a book, one that really plays with your emotions and let’s you into a completely different kind of mind!
    I’ll definitely add this to my least hopefully sooner ratehr than later I’ll be able to get to it! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yay! Thanks for joining, Matxi, and no worries. Everyone’s busy at the beginning of a new year. :p
      Vid games in a book is a bit strange, but full immersion treats the vid game more like a fantasy world in a book than just a game. If that helps. :p

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh! I really enjoyed Ready Player One, as well. So, if you liked that, I’m sure you’ll like this one. Honestly, I think liked this one better than Ready Player One! ^.^

      No worries about the delay. We all understand busy days. Thank you for sharing and commenting!

      Like

  2. I’m not sure that I’ve ever read a “dark fiction” novel, but I am definitely looking to step out of my comfort zone this year with new reads and I think this would be a great addition to my list! I read your review too and I absolutely LOVE fast-paced books that keep you on your toes.
    It seems much more focused on the main character, Kali Ling, and her facing the struggles of the industry more so than the actual gaming aspect of it – is it pretty light on the technical gaming jargon/lingo? That would be the only thing to turn me away from it because I am not familiar with or big on that type of thing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oo, girl! You’ve never read a dark diction novel? You are missing out! Hee hee! I personally love dark fiction because it deals with a lot of the gritty elements of reality while still being in a fantasy or scifi world. Of course, you gotta make sure you know it’s dark going in, in case you’re not in the mood for it. ^.^

      Oh! Thanks for reading my review on it and I’m happy you’re looking forward to it. It’s a great book! (I’m reading the ARC for the sequel right now! ^.^) And no. No worries on technical jargon. Any technical aspects they do use are easily explained and very minimal at best. It definitely deals more with her struggles and the reality of being in that particular industry. I hope you enjoy it!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Ahhh you’ve convinced me, I definitely need to check this out! I am not sure what “mood” I will need to be in to read it since I’ve never jumped into one before, but I can play around with that I suppose. As if I don’t already have enough books & genres to sort through and read hehe 😛 Love your posts!!

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Haha! It’s really more a matter of being prepared for a dark story and not expecting fluff because you’ll likely end up rather shocked or depressed when you get done. You feel me?

          Oh man! Don’t even get me started on the number of books I gotta read! And I’m moving, too! Talk about stress. leh sigh

          And thank you! ^.^ I’m so happy you like my posts! It’s always great to hear that!

          Liked by 1 person

  3. Ooh, I have not heard of this debut yet, but it definitely seems interesting. I don’t read enough dark fiction, and the gaming industry does sound quite interesting for an aspect in a book. I think I will definitely have to look at adding this to my TBR! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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