There are some books that enter your life just like that but leave lasting impressions on you. They might not be what you’d prefer to read but they’re strong enough and sure enough in themselves and the lessons they are giving you that you appreciate them for what they are. I came across one such trilogy a couple of months ago when I read the All for the Game trilogy by Nora Sakavic. The name of the trilogy might seem all easygoing, all in fun. But trust me, it’s got the heaviness of a thousand truckload of bricks raining down on you.
The first book in this trilogy is The Foxhole Court; the second is The Raven King; and the third is The King’s Men.
Trigger warnings: rape, violence, abuse, drug and alcohol abuse, murder, homophobia.
This starts off with Neil Josten transferring schools to join the Palmetto State Foxes, an Exy team that’s at the bottom of the league. Exy is a court game which I felt was a cross between hockey and lacrosse, which holds him up and ties him to life in its own way. At Palmetto, Neil meets other people like him, with baggage of their own. How he adjusts to being in the midst of so many people after years of being alone, how he learns to live with having friends who care for him, how he learns to stand up to his past, which is bloodier than one can imagine, and how these people he has found have finally given him something to fight for, forms this story.
To start off with, there are so many characters in this book, who, when I read their introductions, instantly went, “I want to punch this person!” with gritted teeth. Yet, as we move forward with the story, you get attached to them, because you begin to understand that the world was the problem, that the world was the reason they went through so many things, that fear and self-preservation can force a person to create a hard shell around themselves, a shield to protect themselves from things like this happening again. You feel their pain, their unhappiness, and through it all, the weird ways they have of showing their kindness. There’s just one character who I will probably try to understand but not condone his behavior because he’s being an a-hole 95% of the time. But that’s okay too, in the context of the story.
This trilogy is a great example of the found family trope done mostly right. It’s one of my favorite tropes to ever exist in literature, and as I read about Neil finding this family, it just made me overtly emotional. From Neil’s initial reaction to figures in authority to the comfort and reassurance he finds in the people here because this found family has opened its wings and accepted him into it, is a warm thing to read. It takes some time to get to this point because of reasons aforementioned and reasons you’d be better off reading to get the full substance of the story. But it’s going to be worth it.
Neil himself is as close to perfect as a character can get, perhaps because of the conditions he grew up in or because he has had to be that way because of his life before coming here. I won’t say anything else because this is a huge part of the story’s intrigue, that Neil would do something like this being a centerpiece of it. It’s heartwarming, though, to think of how a group of people has made Neil feel safe and loved enough to do these things.
There are a couple of things that I differ in opinion with the general public on:
- The trilogy is a great study in human character, its reasonings, pain, and family. But for me, it wasn’t something I would put on a pedestal and worship. That’s just me, though, because I can see why all these people love this series. It just didn’t touch that chord for me.
- I came to love most of these characters, but that one character I mentioned before, I don’t harbor any love for. Nah, thank you very much. Sympathy, yes, but not love.
Another little problem I had was that the story can get confusing in places. The tenses, the spelling mistakes, the jump cuts, the extremely philosophical poetry – take these out and you’ll have a cracker of a book on your hands. It’s still a cracker but it’s gone a little soggy with cheese right now. It’s like taking a longer route for the scenery, but the scenery is just confusing you. What’s that tree supposed to be? Didn’t we make this turn twice before? Why are we at this cliff? Are we supposed to dip into that lake below? But isn’t that a point of no return? How will we get back on track?
Surprisingly, however, we do get back on track, and well enough that we round off a trilogy in an extremely satisfying manner. It’s strange, really, how you can find so many things you’re not really happy with a story but when you look at it in hindsight, you find that it has affected you in different ways.
This is another one of those series that you’ll have to read to find out what you think of it. Because despite all the things I mentioned before, it’s also worth mentioning that the series handles the topics it takes up in a brash but also sensitive manner – a combination that’s difficult to get right most times. Yes, it’s a bit of a stretch, expecting a book or a series to do everything in one shot. But whatever this one gets right is amazing.
So, if you’re thinking about whether to read it or not, I’d recommend you read it and then decide for yourself.
So that was my review of the All for the Game trilogy by Nora Sakavic. Have you read this series? If you did, what did you think of it? If you didn’t, will you pick it up after reading my review? Let me know in the comments below. I’d love to hear from you! ❤
I’ll see you in tomorrow’s Blogtober post.
Until next time, keep reading and add melodrama to your life! 😊