Gauntlet by Holly Jennings
Team Defiance is invited to an international tournament where the game is more than what it seems. New technology has brought gaming one step further. As players experience the game, it can learn from them and up the difficulty level in a heartbeat. Defiance will have to learn new skills to conquer both the game and their opponents. But as Defiance struggles in game, Kali Ling must learn how to fight back against the pressures of being a team owner.
Having bought Team Defiance, Kali is determined to give them a better life. She refuses to force them into publicity stunts and hardcore partying. She won't cover up drug tests and hide the fact that addiction is a risk all gamers must face. When one of her teammates relapses, the gossip magazines take hold and begin to tear down the members of Defiance. Sponsors threaten to abandon the team. The public takes their darkest secrets and twists them into hate. Assaulted from all sides, the team begins to break under the pressure. Kali must hold them together and find a way to overcome the boundaries surrounding them.
Once again Holly Jennings has created a novel that is much more than just a story about gaming. With fame comes immense pressure to be in the public eye. I don't think people take into account how it affects a person, and the insecurities it can cause. Each of the Defiance team members will have to conquer their inner demons to make it through the game.
Gauntlet will also venture into the darker parts of drug relapse. Jennings shows how it affects not only the person addicted but the people around them as well. Readers will see the rollercoaster of emotions addiction causes. There is a constant hidden battle to avoid temptation. With the type of lifestyle professional gamers live, that temptation is right in front of their eyes.
I want more of this world that Jennings has created. I don't want the story to end at Gauntlet. I hope in the future she will release the next part of Team Defiance's story. There is so much more left to tell.