My Rating: 4.5/5
Genre: YA Contemporary/ LGBT Fiction
For Fans Of: I’ll Give You The Sun by Jandy Nelson, This Song Will Save Your Life by Leila Sales, and The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater
Books in Series: The Foxhole Court, The Raven King, The King’s Men
Series title: All For The Game
Trigger warnings for sexual assault and violence.
Let’s preface this with the fact I hate sports. Especially super American college sports. I find them elitist, sexist, and generally pretty annoying.
This was not that.
The All For The Game series follows Neil Josten, a young Exy player with a shady past. Even though he’s on the run, Neil can’t help but sign to The Foxes, a college Exy team made up of players with troubled backgrounds. What follows is a story of finding yourself, facing your problems, and saying fuck you to the assholes in your life. Literally.
This was the sort of life affirming series that has you reading until 3am, heart in your mouth but a giant grin on your face. I fell so deeply for these characters. Their successes had me wanting to paint my walls orange (the colour of The Foxes) and scream from the rooftops. Their heartbreaks, their sadness, their pain had me crying for them and cradling my kindle like it could somehow send some comfort through.
This series is a dark series. I won’t pretend it isn’t. The characters go through significant hardships, but the wonderful thing about these books is that they come out the other side, with help from each other. Over the course of the three books, these characters, this team, become one. They rise to the occasion and tackle their challenges head on. I felt genuine pride for how far they’d all come. This is a book that haunts your soul and demands you take notice of it. These characters grab onto your heart and refuse to let go. At the end of it all, like Neil and his Foxes, you’re left a stronger, wiser, and more fulfilled person than when you went into it.
Despite its dark aspects, this novel is truly heart-warming. The characters start off by mocking the idea of family, even found family, but their relationships blossom and they become a tight knit team.
On a more negative note, I did find the first book confusing the first time I read it. However, on my second read, I understood everything. I think a slower approach to these books is good, as I sped through The Foxhole Court the first time I read it, which I think led to my confusion. The writing does get better over time, with the first book being the weakest. It’s easily overlooked, however, in the light of the strength of the sequels.
The All For The Game series is genuinely remarkable, for its tenacity, fearless story line, and the depth of its characters. If it sounds like your sort of thing, absolutely give it a chance. And if you don’t like sport, trust me, it’s much more than that.