Title: The Opening Bell
Author: J.B. Garner
My rating: 3.75/5
Goodreads rating: 4.29/5
Genre: Fiction, Sports
Leilana Ito knew her family had a long history in the wrestling world, but she never knew how much had been kept secret from her. When Leilana wanted to follow in the family footsteps, she was shocked when her father adamantly refused to let her proceed with no reason why. Leilana couldn’t deny the fighting spirit in her heart. Refusing his prohibition, she had no idea what terrible events her defiance would set into motion! Now a rookie wrestler in the heart of Oklahoma, Leilana faces ring rivalries, impossible odds, corporate machinations, and threats she could never imagine as she struggles to prove herself. As the truth behind her family’s history becomes clear, the stakes continue to rise. Will Leilana rise to the challenge and win it all or face a final, crushing defeat?
I was given an ARC copy of this book courtesy of the author. All opinions are still mine however.
So, I was not expecting to like this book as much as I did! I am completely oblivious to wrestling or anything of the sort, but that is why I wanted to read this book. I would be entering a world that I don’t know anything about, like how I would with a fantasy novel. I can say that I enjoyed my venture into the wresting world immensely though there were some bumps in the proverbial road.
The Opening Bell follows Leilana as she makes her debut into the world of wrestling despite her father’s disapproval. Though success helps Leilana to make her presence known, winning a match isn’t as clear cut as she would of thought it would be and with her family history being murkier than she was ever told, Leilana must tread carefully to make sure she survives the slimy world of wrestling.
This book was a lot more dynamic than I thought it was going to be, with a lot more highs and lows than I would expect from a wrestling novel. I loved how many different POVs were incorporated into the plot making the novel overall more exciting to read and though it was confusing at the start, you get used to it. Leilana’s story was very engaging to follow probably because it didn’t just linger on one event, it was constant.
While we have Leilana’s story in the forefront I was happy to find out during me reading the novel, there was a another storyline which in a way tied or was the cause of everyone else’s. I think I would of liked for the backstory of this story line to be voiced in a more interesting way, I was grateful for the fact that it existed, so that they story was more then one dimensional.
The writing was quite average to be honest and nothing very surprising about it. One thing I did like about the writing though was how each character had a distinct voice. They didn’t all sound like Leilana which was nice. The wrestling scenes were kind of half and half meaning, sometimes they were really vivid and you can see clearly what every action was suppose to look like, but at other times I was kind of lost in the scene which caused confusion for me. Nothing to major but it irked me slightly. Also, I didn’t really like the way Leilana spoke sometimes. I know she was suppose to be polite, but the amount of I am’s I saw just didn’t read smoothly for me. Other than those, the novel was smooth sailing without any jarring parts.
I think some more moments should of definitely been added to the story, like some Leilana and Sunny moments and Leilana and Dana moments. They would of enriched the story a lot.
Leilana was a nice character. She had some spark, she was naive and a great fighter, but she just didn’t fly off the page for me. I wished she had more development especially towards her social awkwardness which would of really bought her character to life a bit.Dana on the other hand really came off the page for me! You can totally see how she developed throughout the novel and her character had some nice light and shade to her. Her friendship towards our main character was really sweet and in the end I was totally on her side.Elise was a great antagonist for the story. Cold and ruthless she just really got under my skin sometimes, which an antagonist should do. I wish that Marcy, Nohokai and Karl could of gotten some more development as they seemed to make up some of the back bone of the plot as well.
What I liked:
- The plot kept me hooked!
- They book had a lot more dynamics between characters and the plot.
- Dana was awesome!
- Most of the wresting scenes were great to read
- Loved the multi POVs
What I disliked:
- Some of the wrestling scenes were not so clear.
- Most of the characters could of gotten more characterisation
- Some more moments, not about wrestling but just about the characters really should of been added.
- I think the story could of been wrapped up in this one book instead of a series.
Verdict: This book was a real joy to read. Though I was a newbie in this world I quickly became enraptured by the world of fights, friendships and old feuds! This book could of had a lot more punch by developing the characters more and adding more moments to help us bond with the characters but essentially this is a solid read.