Take psychotic and dysfunctional team members of a hard hitting and physical (make-believe) sport called “Exy”, mix in drugs, alcohol, physical abuse, hitmen, maffia bosses, kidnapping and not forgetting lots of cuts and bruises, torture, sexual tension…actually loads of tension in general, sprinkle with a whole dose of trust issues and more secrets than you can poke a stick at… and say hello to Nora Sakavic’s ‘All for the Game’ trilogy.
Written across three books – Book 1: “The Foxhole Court”, Book 2: “The Raven King” and Book 3: “The King’s Men” – we were pleasantly surprised how much we engaged with this fast paced sinister and twisted storyline (normally a sports theme alone would be enough to turn us away). We can’t tell you how engrossing this trilogy was. With so much mystery (and history) surrounding each of the main characters we found it hard to put them down as Sakavic took us on a journey of discovery with each character, the world of Exy (a mix of lacrosse and hockey) and the corruption behind the foundations the sport was built on.
Book 1 & 2 centre around Neil Josten who’s on the run from his murderous crime lord father. Neil joins a small town Exy team whilst trying to stay off the radar. He lives to love the sport as Exy provides the one constant that grounds him because Neil Josten is of course not his real name; he’s changed names, hair and eye colour at least 20 times over the past 8 years. His world flipped the day his mother, armed with stolen cash and bonds, decided to run in the pursuit of freedom, but that freedom came at a price and when scouted by Exy talent scouts from a high profile university he’s forced to decide to either join them or continue to run. When Neil becomes the newest addition to the Palmetto State University “Foxes” team – a team made up of misfits, all with a troubled past who are the laughing stocks of the national league table – he’s confident that with the teams low ranking, and little press coverage, he will be able to keep his secret and stay out of the limelight. But Neil isn’t the only one with a secret; one of his teammates is an acquaintance from his troubled past…will they expose him when they figure out who he is? As Neil tackles trust and acceptance issues from his own team his past is fast catching up with him.
Book 3 see Neil out of time. After so much running, he can’t run anymore as his team is pushed further into the spotlight of the annual league competition. Throw in confusing feelings by and towards Andrew (the most troubled and violent player on his team), the slow reveal of who Neil really is, his past and wavering future, he comes face to face with not only his recently released from jail father but he has to take on the head of the Exy mafia in a showdown that whilst bloody, will keep your adrenaline pumping in anticipation of the final outcome.
It’s an exhausting ride, but well worth it. How Sakavic packed in so much is beyond us and we are salivating for more…what’s next for Neil, his teammates and the sport itself? We secretly hope Sakavic is busy writing the fourth book in the series or we might have to send around some heavies for a little persuasion (we joke, sort of).