The Challenger by Taran Matharu
Cade Carter and his friends have survived the qualifying round of the mysterious overlords’ twisted games, decimated by the loss of so many of their comrades during the fight. But they have no time to mourn, for the next round of trials is about to begin.
When the group discovers that their next foe will be even more ferocious than the last, Cade leads them on a quest out into their strange new world to find anything that might give them an edge. But what they find in the wilds could prove to be even more dangerous than the impending battle…
Cade has survived the first round in what he now knows is an intergalactic contest. If they lose this next round, all of humanity could be at risk. But Cade and his other surviving friends are only teens with no real fighting experience.
The Challenger is the second book in the Contender series. It has a bit of a Hunger Games feel. Cade and his friends are fighting for their lives, just to compete later for all of Earth. The planet they are on is full of humans and animals from throughout history and beyond. Full of intense suspense, this thriller is hard to put down. But the characters and subplot are engaging as well. It’s often dark and violent, but Cade and his friends give the story plenty of heart and a bit of romance as well. I look forward to the next in this fast-paced, exciting series.