Diverse Books, YA Books

The Challenger by Taran Matharu -ARC Review

Thank you to Hodder Children’s Books and Netgalley for sending me this arc in exchange for an honest review.

This is the second book in The Contender series and I had been so looking forward to reading it especially after the ending of the first book! I really enjoyed the sequel and I definitely need to know what will happen in the next book like asap!

You can read my review of The Chosen here


Rating: 4/5

Synopsis from Goodreads:

In a realm of monsters and warriors, Cade is an unwilling contender in a deadly tournament controlled by the brutal alien overlord Abaddon.
Cade may have won the first round but the fight isn’t over yet. For his next battle he must duel a seven-foot-tall, clawed monster – the reigning champion of an alien race.
Desperate for anything that may give him an advantage, Cade sets off on an expedition into the jungle to scavenge weaponry to help him win. But there he is captured by gladiators, and before he knows it he finds himself participating in a deadly new game where the prize is his freedom.

This book starts where the first book ends with Cade and the others waiting to see what Abaddon will make them do next and grieving for those who died at the end of the first book. I am still in shock at all the deaths in the first book, I was not expecting that so I started this book already apprehensive and fearing for the lives of the rest of the group.

This book was as intense as the first and it kept me hooked and reading well into the night. I loved how because of what Abaddon told them the second battle will be, they had to travel outside the keep and we got to see more of the world and especially see the type of civilisation that was created through all the people that were sent there from different time periods and different parts of the world. It is steeped in history and I loved it so much!

I loved that the darker parts of the civilisation wasn’t glossed over too, especially how they treated those they enslaved and tortured. It was really dark at times where we see through Cade what could happen to them if they don’t escape after being captured. They go through some brutal battles even before having to face what Abaddon has in store for them. We see more prehistoric creatures which were absolutely terrifying and had my heart racing when Cade and the others had to fight them.

Basically this book completely messed with my emotions and I just could not stop reading because I needed to know what will happen next. As they had to fight as gladiators they had to fight to the death which meant killing other teams. It was interesting to see that as they had to face some people they knew and some they didn’t. Cade and the others struggling to deal with them having to kill or be killed and how it affected them was also so heart breaking to read.

I also loved seeing the friendships develop between them all and how they supported and trusted each other and they were able to rely on each other to survive. I loved seeing friendship theme being so prominent in the story as we really need more of this! There were some small hints of romance but I liked that it wasn’t that prevalent in the books.

The only thing I wish we got a bit more of was ending of the book, there was a lot of build up and I was expecting something a little more? I just felt it happened so quickly that, compared to everything else they went through in the book especially to try to prepare Cade for this battle I would have thought we would spend more time on that part of the story.

I still really loved the book and with the way the book ended I absolutely need the next book asap because I seriously need to know what will happen next!

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