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FREEFIC WEEK – SERIES REVIEW: “All For the Game” by Nora Sakavic

ABOUT:

Book 1 – “The Foxhole Court” 

Neil Josten is the newest addition to the Palmetto State University Exy team. He’s short, he’s fast, he’s got a ton of potential—and he’s the runaway son of the murderous crime lord known as The Butcher.

Signing a contract with the PSU Foxes is the last thing a guy like Neil should do. The team is high profile and he doesn’t need sports crews broadcasting pictures of his face around the nation. His lies will hold up only so long under this kind of scrutiny and the truth will get him killed.

But Neil’s not the only one with secrets on the team. One of Neil’s new teammates is a friend from his old life, and Neil can’t walk away from him a second time. Neil has survived the last eight years by running. Maybe he’s finally found someone and something worth fighting for.

Book 2- “The Raven King” 

The Foxes are a fractured mess, but their latest disaster might be the miracle they’ve always needed to come together as a team. The one person standing in their way is Andrew, and the only one who can break through his personal barriers is Neil.

Except Andrew doesn’t give up anything for free and Neil is terrible at trusting anyone but himself. The two don’t have much time to come to terms with their situation before outside forces start tearing them apart. Riko is intent on destroying Neil’s fragile new life, and the Foxes have just become collateral damage.

Neil’s days are numbered, but he’s learning the hard way to go down fighting for what he believes in, and Neil believes in Andrew even if Andrew won’t believe in himself.

REVIEW:

All for the Game: a three book series. By Nora Sakavic

The first two books of All for the Game are available at Smashwords.

The Foxhole Court is free http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/275120
The Raven King might as well be free at $0.99 http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/334930
The Kings Men is still a work in progress and is expected to be released in 2014.

———————————————————————————————————————-

This is a review (of sorts) for the series as it stands. It’s a tough one and I need to disclose that I had to call in my guru and literary savant to aid me in defining exactly what this series is. My old review with “LOOK!!!  5 STARS! ” And “This is FANTASTIC!” plus “I have no idea what I just read” just wasn’t going to cut it. So this review is part me and part Oracle. Thank you oh-wise-one J

Firstly we are not going to repeat the synopsis (so please read it) or spoiler you, but between me and MY Oracle (who shall remain anon) we shall briefly outline, tell you what you can expect and how to approach this absolute gem of distinctive originality. And yet I fear we still won’t reach the point. Foxhole Court is really difficult to slap a few words on and stuff in a pigeonhole, so grab a cup of coffee and allow us to explain.

In a Nutshell or more …

The Foxhole Court is ‘Harold and the Purple Crayon‘ written for grownups.  It’s a young man’s adventure/coming of age story set in a made up world which is close enough to ours to fool you. It’s as if Nora said “wouldn’t it be fun if…” and started drawing her story, inventing pieces along the way, peopling it with all kinds of interesting, deranged or damaged characters, adding in exciting and dangerous backstory, giving them something to fight for, creating threatening shapes lurking in the darkness, making stuff up as she needed to.  But she didn’t tie herself to the logic of the real world, she made a new and a little bit fantastic one.  Like someone who is looking at our world from outside, say the Little Prince, and starts to create a story about it.  This sense of the fantastical, of things similar but skewed just a little bit off reinforces the story.

The viewpoint character, Neil, has grown up on the run without really knowing anything of the world he lives in.  He’s always been an observer and from what he sees, or thinks he sees, he makes weird assumptions and does wrong things.  We ride along with him, learning as he learns, or horizons expanding as his expand.   We make the same wrong assumptions.  It’s really clever and one of the best parts of the story to realize the author has sort of regressed us to a level of childish awareness by sticking us in a world that is almost, but not quite, the one we know.

Characterisation 

“They were a team with no concept of teamwork and they determined their hierarchy through force.”

Somebody said:You won’t find characters like this outside of unpublished works. And they are right! These individuals are all kinds of rough, raw and messed up but that’s what makes them awesome. A bunch of fractured talented misfits that wouldn’t be misplaced in the casting of Lord of the Flies will hold you rapt.  Each individual is uniquely multi-faceted, undisciplined, and untrusting, volatile victims of their pasts. From a dangerous knife wielding psychopath to a freaky but angelic manga styled girl, this mixed gender team of players take you on a ride that’s fresh and exciting – destination unpredictable.

And then there’s the game …

Exy – a new age game similar to hockey and lacrosse, but faster and much more violent. Bigger than the NFL and yes, you need to suspend your belief to accept that, but once Nora puts you on the court even a non-sports fan (like me)  is not immune to the intensity, the atmosphere and nail biting anticipation of the next move. Exy is utterly exhilarating! For some of these kids it’s an obsession, for others it’s a chore but for all of them it’s a chance when they never had one to begin with.

Labels Schmabels … let’s make a new one.

Nora Sakavic created something special here that goes WAY beyond the definition of a NA/YA /Sports tag.  Honestly, the labels are dangling by a monkey’s ball hair, there simply is no identifier to define this series as it stands. The whole concept and styling escapes any kind of categorisation, evading the trope mould (thank you Nora!) and thus (very sadly) making it unmarketable – but that doesn’t mean it’s not good. In fact it’s pretty damn amazing! Worthy of its very own genre, so for the Suits scratching their heads over the concept, and for the sake of the tag lover; we shall name it … Misfit fiction.

Yes but what about the Romance?!

Pah! There is no romance. The idea is almost ridiculous, and I (lover of all things romance) am absolutely fine with that. We are dealing with Misfit fiction here after all. But I will say that yes, there is a suggestion – a hope – a possibility of something  more (m/m) intimate in The Raven King – but who gets shipped at this point is furtive… kind of ;)

Kudos!

There is more to The Foxhole and Raven King than unique characterisation and an original perception to make it remarkable. This writer has such a talent for dialog she thrills me with it – I am obsessed with her dialog!  Each word is concentrated, vital. It’s heady.

The Foxhole Court has such a slow reveal and yet it holds my attention absolutely. Any lingering frustration of inaccessibility to characters like Andrew is rewarded in The Raven King – it’s faster, a lot darker and a lot more accessible to all whole team. Now my Oracle says it slips into the melodramatic but I’ll just cuff her one and say NO, it’s staggeringly brilliant!

A Final word of advice from The Oracle

The reviews are all over the place in trying to describe this.  The best ones are the ones that prove my point by missing the point entirely.  Bullet by bullet arguments of why everything in the story is wrong is exactly why everything is right.  Because things CAN happen if you suspend disbelief or if you are willing to look at the world like a child does and come up with your own explanations for the things you see. (Especially in Nora world)That’s not the way sports works?  Looks like it to a non-sports person.  That’s not the way drugs work?  Looks like it to someone who sees the difference between Mommy on her meds and Mommy off of them, etc.  So to read this, you have to have a sense of wonder and an ability for childish abandonment and childish insight that some adults are going to struggle with.

A Final word from me :)

Save this for when you fall into a funk, save it for when you are tired of the old tropes and paint by numbers plotlines. Save it for when you want something with bite, savour it. It’s special. It’s free, and it’s very VERY good.

Now I wonder if the Coen brothers are still producing ….

Thank you for reading and Thank you for supporting free fiction!

BOOK INFO:

17259690Title:  “The Foxhole Court”
Release Date:  April 23, 2012
Pages: 140 
URL:  http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/275120

18187013Title:  “The Raven King”
Release Date:  July 10, 2013
Pages: 181
URL:  http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/334930

3 comments on “FREEFIC WEEK – SERIES REVIEW: “All For the Game” by Nora Sakavic

  1. syleegurl
    November 6, 2013

    Shelley & “the Oracle” have confused me AND convinced me! I’m excited to read this…

    Like

  2. ilhem3606
    November 6, 2013

    You know i’m looking forward to reading it and pining after the next release with you.:)

    Like

  3. loederkoninginkatinka
    November 7, 2013

    Me too… I’m beginning to feel like I’m missing out.

    Like

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This entry was posted on November 6, 2013 by in FanFic / FreeFic, Reviewer: Shelley and tagged , , .

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