All for the Game is a book series by Nora Sakavic, which was published in 2013 and 2014. The series is a trilogy and consists of the books: The Foxhole Court, The Raven King and The King’s Men. Earlier this year, I read the book series The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater, which was a life changing experience, and afterwards I had this kind of vacuum where I needed another series that got to me again – All for the Game managed that.
The protagonist of the series is called Neil Josten. He is a runaway and the only thing he’s passionate about is Exy. Exy is a fictional sport, which is best described as a mixture of rugby and American football. It does sound really brutal from time to time and as if it really triggers the adrenaline. Neil originally escaped his father, who is the boss of a criminal syndicate and known as the Butcher, together with his mother. However, after his mother died, he had to continue on his own and enrolled at a high school in Millport. He also enters the local Exy team and even though the team itself is not very successful, Neils talent and potential does not go unnoticed. He gets an invitation to join the Palmetto State University Foxes and therefore, play Class I Exy. He accepts the invitation, even though it is his death sentence, since he’s supposed to be on the run.
When I first started reading The Foxhole Court, I wasn’t immediately hooked. The series took a while to grow on me. As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve started reading this series after I had finished The Raven Boys and even though, the book series are a bit alike, the writing style is extremely different. The Raven Boys is all about aesthetic writing. Maggie Stiefvater has this genius ability to describe and lengthen seconds into decades and it’s mesmerizing. All for the Game, however, is all about the characters and the dialogues. Only after I got to know the characters and started caring for them and cheering for them, I’ve started to really enjoy this series.
The characters in All for the Game are all wrecks. The Palmetto State University Foxes are famous for enrolling renegades and problematic players and giving them another chance. Alcohol and drug abuse are the least of the problems mentioned in the books, there are other things like extreme homophobia, murder, abuse, rape and the whole story about a branch of the Japanese mafia which is hunting down some of the Foxes. The books are very explicit and if you can’t deal with that, you shouldn’t read the series. Neils father is not called the Butcher for nothing. The first two books are mostly filled with explicit violent content and the third book contains some explicit sexual scenes.
So it was the characters who made me love this series and made me re-read it a second time already. I have this urge to just put blankets around all the foxes and hand them hot chocolate all the day and to fight for them. At the end of the series I had this feeling that I myself had become a Palmetto State Fox. A part of the family. And that’s why I love this series so much, because it gets you hooked and gives you refuge (somehow). And I love how multi-faceted the Foxes and their problems are. Also, Exy is a co-ed sport, which I find extremely fascinating and you don’t even need to like sport to like this book series, because, again, it’s all about the characters.
All in all, I can recommend this book series to whoever has no problem with the explicit scenes. It is definitely worth a shot. The kindle version of the book series is also very cheap, around one to two Euro/Dollar per book. Sometimes they are even free, so why not give the Foxes a chance? In the end, all I want to share with you is this fan trailer for the series from YouTube: