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Sunday, September 13, 2009

Arena by Karen Hancock

Today I would like to review an older book that you probably haven't read, but you should have: Arena by Karen Hancock. Take a dash of Pilgrim’s Progress, toss in a good helping of The Matrix, and you get 2003 Christy Award-winning Arena. Talk about a book I couldn’t put down. My teenaged daughter highly recommended Arena to me, and it turned out to be one of the most fascinating and unique novels I have ever read.
Callie Hayes thinks she is signing up for a psychology experiment, but finds herself whisked away to…well, she isn’t quite sure. Is it a holographic fantasy, an alien world, or an alternate reality? All she knows for sure is that she, like everyone else lost in this strange place, is desperate to get back home safely. Along the way she will meet a host of strange creatures, incredible challenges, and bizarre mysteries.

This book offers more than just adventure, however. Callie forges many deep relationships with the other victims of this experiment, and learns much about her own desires, about life, and about what is truly important. There's even a little something for romance fans, as she discovers a unique connection with a special man, but can it survive the Arena?

The Arena serves as a backdrop for some of life’s most pressing questions and realities. As Callie and her friends move through different levels and phases of this unusual realm, the relationship to our own spiritual growth and development becomes clear.

I particularly liked the concept of “the link,” a way to touch and communicate with “Elhanu” who served as God within the story. The armor given to those who passed through “the Gate” was quickly deactivated by fear and could only be reactivated by reaching within and finding “the link” again. This is so true in our own lives.

The parallels to spiritual warfare in this book were exquisite, and clearly demonstrated the power and responsibility of the Christian believer in battling and gaining victory over the enemy. No less stunning was Hancock’s presentation of how one must first come to God and salvation and the varying struggles people go through in order to find Him.

No matter where you are in your walk with God, you will find something within the pages of Arena that will minister to you, enlighten you, and draw you closer to Him.

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