The Foxhole Court by Nora Sakavic (All For the Game #1) / My rating: ★★★★☆
One sentence summary: Neil Josten, a teenager eternally on the run from his dangerous past, is recruited onto the exy team for the dysfunctional Palmetto State Foxes.
Hope was a dangerous, disquieting thing, but he thought perhaps he liked it.
Genre: Young Adult/Contemporary/Sports
Plot: The first in a series of three novels, this book introduces the reader to the dangerous world of Neil Josten and the fictional sport of exy. The story is fierce, fast pasted, and on the intense side of everything. Neil – if that is his real name – is a habitual runaway with connections to a gruesome past. He signs on to play with the Palmetto State Foxes against his better judgment, his heart for exy winning over his fear of staying in one place for an extended amount of time. While I’m not a sports person by any means (even Quiddich matches took much to enthrall me) exy, a fictional sport much like lacrosse, managed to entertain me by entwining itself with the plot and characters in such a way that pulled my eyes forward. This is a story that keeps you intrigued, keeps you guessing and wondering what secrets lurk behind each character. This book is not, however, for the faint of heart. It is gruesome, bloody, heartless, and is written in such a way- fantastical and extreme- that had me picturing it much like an anime in my head, a medium I think this story would lend itself better to than a novel.
Characters: These characters were lethal. Never before had I been introduced to such a fierce cast of characters that immediately twisted my stomach. In the beginning, the only character I actually liked was Neil. The team he joins is disjointed, callous, and distrusting of one another. Neil finds himself in the middle of a split team- on one side are the more reasonable upperclassmen, who are willing to extend Neil a hand in friendship, and on the other side are the unpleasant and apathetic “monsters.” The monsters contain the infamous Kevin Day, who escaped the biggest team in the league with a broken hand and a tattoo on his face, and his protector, the sociopathic and eternally drugged Andrew Minyard. While Kevin is supposed to be a much more interesting character than I found him to be, Andrew is cruel, frightening, violent, and always keeps his promises, and while I didn’t like him, I was intrigued by him, much like Neil is.
Writing: While I think that this story is more suited to be an anime, it’s nothing against Sakavic’s quality of writing. In fact, I thought it was very much a strength that she was able to tell her in such a way that I could so clearly picture it, vivid and full of action, as that kind of animation in my mind. The one drawback that tripped me up was that dialogue, at times, was vague, and I couldn’t always clearly understand what the characters were talking about, or trying to get at. I found myself having to go back and reread at points in case I missed something, and if I couldn’t figure out what I had missed, I read forward hoping that resolution would bring clarity to earlier scenes.
Was I satisfied? Mostly. I was satisfied in the way that I immediately needed to continue onto the second book to find out out what was going to become of Neil’s story and his relationships with the members of his team. Any dissatisfaction came from the vague areas of the storytelling and my disinterest in the character Kevin Day, a vital character that disappointed me in his flatness.
P.S. the entire series costs less than $2 for the kindle editions on Amazon.