All for the Game (Series)

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Template:Infobox book seriesAll for the Game is a series of novels by author Nora Sakavic. The series contains three novels, the last of which, The King’s Men, was self-published March 31, 2016. The novels follow the protagonist Neil Josten on the run from his father and his father’s people, as well as Neil’s, and his team’s (The Palmetto State Foxes) journey to make it to the exy championships.

The books, despite lack of promotion, have been rated best sellers on Smashwords and top ten in Amazon’s sports fiction category[1], and have an extensive young adult fan base on social media. There has been no discussion, as of yet, for a movie or TV show adaptation for the series.

Plot

The Foxhole Court (Book 1)

The novel opens with Neil Josten after his high school exy team’s Millport Dingo’s loss, which had put them out of the state championships two games from finals. His coach, Hernandez, announces that there is someone who has come to see Neil and Neil, who has spent most of his life on the run from his past panics, but cannot get away before he sees a man he doesn’t recognise standing in the locker room doorway. Coach Hernandez tells him the man is from a university and Neil discovers he his David Wymack, Coach of the Palmetto State Foxes. Neil mentions that the foxes are notorious for being “talented rejects and junkies” from broken homes[2]. Neil tells Wymack he won’t play for him because of Kevin Day, a former national champion who had recently joined the foxes line up that year and who Neil shared a gruesome past with. Neil goes to run but is stopped by the foxes’ goalkeeper, Andrew Minyard, who hits him across the chest with an exy racquet. Kevin Day enters and tells Neil that they shouldn’t even take him because of his inexperience, but they want him because he plays like he has “everything to lose”[2]. Neil realises Kevin doesn’t recognise him and after an internal battle, he accepts Wymack’s offer.

The novel shifts to South Carolina where Aaron, Andrew’s twin brother, picks Neil up from the airport. The two drive back to Wymack’s apartment complex, where Neil will be staying until the semester begins. In the car the two discuss Kevin, and Neil explains to the reader, Kevin’s past and his ‘inseparable since birth’ relationship with Riko Moriyama, the two even tattooing the numbers 1 and 2 on their faces, until he broke his wrist and joined the Palmetto State Foxes. When they arrive at Wymack’s apartment, where Andrew, Kevin and Nicky, the twin’s cousin were waiting. Neil realises that it wasn’t Aaron who had picked him up from the airport earlier and rather Andrew, who Neil realises is off his medication that was prescribed to him after he had almost killed four men who had attacked Nicky, and that was illegal for him to stop taking. Neil soon discovers that Andrew is an incredible goalie and asks Nicky how the foxes can lose with someone like Andrew in goal. Nicky replies that Andrew doesn’t really care if they win or lose. One night Neil heads to the stadium to find Kevin practicing and Andrew spectating from the stands, he talks to Andrew and discovers that the reason Kevin recruited him is because he believes he can make it to court. Neil is adamant to disbelieve it. Neil has a flashback to the moment his mother died, and believes that the life he was living now was “a dream he’d have to wake up from eventually”[2]. Later in the novel Neil hears Kevin distraught inside Wymack’s apartment, and discovers that the Edgar Allen Ravens, Kevin’s old team, and the team of Riko Moriyama, had transferred districts to play against the Foxes that season. Kevin is hysterical that Riko and the Ravens will force him to return to them. When Wymack realises Neil is in the apartment he confides in him that the Moriyama family were part of the Japanese mafia, and that Kevin’s injury had not been an accident. Neil puts two and two together and realises that his father had been business partners with the Moriyamas and terrified that they’d remember him, decides he must run before the Foxes play the Ravens and it’s too late.

The semester starts and Neil meets the remainder of his teammates. His roommate Matt Boyd, the team captain (and Matt’s girlfriend) Dan Wilds, Renee Walker, who Neil doesn’t know what to make of and avoids, and Allison and Seth, an on again and off again couple who Neil doesn’t really care for, or acknowledge. Neil finds that someone has gone through his things and discovered his folder full of money, contacts and information about Kevin and Riko, and convinced that it wasn’t any of the upper classmen, threatens Kevin, Nicky and the twins to stay out of his stuff. Kevin and Neil get into a fight, causing Andrew to demand that Neil come to Columbia with their group on Friday, saying that they’ll fix it. Knowing he doesn’t have much choice, Neil agrees to go. That afternoon Wymack tells the team that Edgar Allen’s joined their district and Andrew tells Kevin that they can’t touch him, with Andrew around. Neil doesn’t know how Andrew can possibly stand in the way of a mafia family, but is jealous of Kevin and the protection Andrew is offering him. Neil tells the reader that the reason he won’t run is that even if he lived a little longer by running, he would do so alone. Neil goes with Andrew, Aaron, Nicky and Kevin to Columbia where he discovers the group’s habits for drugs called ‘cracker dust’. The group go to a diner, Sweetie’s before heading to the night club Eden’s Twilight, where the group drink, except for Neil who refuses to. Nicky convinces him to do a shot, upon which Neil realises he’s been drugged by the group, and is forced to stay by Nicky, Aaron and Andrew, despite trying to escape. The next morning when Neil wakes up in the cousin’s house in Columbia, he breaks out of the house and hitchhikes his way back to the Palmetto State campus.

Once back, Neil goes to Wymack’s apartment and Wymack calls Andrew, demanding him to come over and explain his actions. Once over Neil, realising he will have to give Andrew information about himself and his past, tells Andrew a half truth, that his father worked for the Moriyamas, who had executed his parents after his father had stolen their profits. Neil had escaped and taken the money with him, which was the only reason he was alive now, and why he knew Kevin and Riko. Neil begs Andrew to let him stay, and Andrew, satisfied with Neil’s explanation, agrees.The Foxes play their first game against the Breckenridge Jackals, and Neil discovers that Andrew only plays for the foxes because Coach Wymack lets him come off his medication for game nights. He realises that Andrew hates his medication more than he hates exy, something he finds “interesting to consider”[2]. The Foxes lose to the Jackals seven points to nine.The next morning the team travel to Raleigh, North Carolina where Kevin, and an unbeknownst Neil make an appearance on Kathy Ferdinand’s morning show. The interview takes a sour turn when Kathy announces that they have another guest on the show and Riko Moriyama appears. Riko criticises Kevin’s choice to change to the foxes and to play again at all, demoralising him on live television, until Neil speaks up, combatting and humiliating Riko before telling him he will choke on his words by the end of the season. Riko corners Kevin and begins to threaten him, Neil tries to interfere but before anything can happen, Andrew appears and Neil and Kevin leave.

Back at the Foxes dorms Andrew queries Neil on why he’d make a stunt like that if he were so afraid of the Moriyamas. He asks if Neil will run when Riko finds out who he is and Neil says he will. Andrew asks what it would take to make him stay, and promises to protect him for one year. He gives him the choice: either he’ll run or he’d join Andrew’s group on a trip to Columbia again that night, to prove he’d accepted Andrew’s protection. Neil chooses to stay, and upon the group leaving, Nicky is surprised to find that Allison and Seth are also leaving the campus that night, to go bar hopping downtown. That night at Eden’s Twilight Andrew tells Neil that they got into cracker dust for “Aaron’s sake” when he was going through the withdrawals coming off the drugs his mother had given him. When the group leave and arrive at the cousin’s house, Aaron gets a call from Coach Wymack, who tells him Seth had overdosed and was dead. Andrew tells Neil that Seth’s death was Riko retaliating against Neil’s stunt that morning. He tells a worried Neil that he’s not “going anywhere”, and places a key to the cousin’s apartment in Neil’s hand[2]. Neil goes to sleep that night holding the key in his palm and telling himself he’s home.

The Raven King (Book 2)

The second novel of the series continues only a few days after Seth's death. Neil spends the beginning of the novel wracked with guilt, not knowing what role he played in Seth's death and because of this is unwilling to face Allison. Andrew gets a call from an Oakland policeman, Officer Higgins. The team is confused about his relationship with Andrew and are convinced that Andrew is in some form of trouble until Aaron tells the team that Higgins was the one who introduced the two twins. The novel delves into the twin's past and their rocky relationship with each other. Neil realises he's been accepted into Andrew's group and Matt, worried that he'd lose Neil to them, tells Neil to keep a grip on each of the groups, and "be the piece that finally brings [the] team together" if they wanted any hope to make it to the championships[3]. The novel shifts to the exy fall banquet, where the Palmetto State Foxes and Edgar Allen Ravens, first truly face each other. Neil meets Jean Moreau, a member of Riko's inner circle, indicated by the number 3 tattooed on his cheek. Neil soon realises that Riko has discovered who he is, when Jean refers to him as three of his past fake names he used when on the run. When Coach Wymack tells the team that they'd found the Foxes another table, Jean beckons him and demands that he give Riko a few moments of his time later throughout the night, by threatening to reveal him as "the Butcher's son"[3]. Kevin overhears, and Neil promises to talk to him about it later, and confess everything. When he meets Riko again later, it is revealed to him that his father and the Moriyama's were not business partners; rather that his father, and himself, were property of the Moriyamas. The next day, Kevin then discloses that Neil was intended to be like Kevin, a member of Riko's inner circle, and a player for the Edgar Allen Ravens, but that his mother had run away with him before he had a chance to be initiated. Kevin tells him to run, before it's too late and he's killed, but Neil refuses, telling Kevin that he doesn't want to be Nathaniel anymore, that he wanted to be Neil Josten, to be a Fox. It's at this part of the novel that Neil makes the decision that in spring, after the Exy championships that he will go to the FBI and "tell them everything", before the Moriyamas would inevitably kill him.[3] The Foxes play the Ravens and lose thirteen-six. Kevin tells Riko that he was 'satisfied' with the Foxes spirit, and that there was more than enough for him to work with.

Officer Higgins arrives at the Foxes' dorms, adamant to talk with Andrew, who refuses until he mentions the name 'Drake'. Nobody else on the team has any idea who this is. Later in the novel, Nicky approaches Neil and confides in him that his mother had invited him home for Thanksgiving dinner, a big deal as his parents had almost refused to talk to him, after he had come out to them. However, he tells him that they only want him to come if he also brings Andrew and Aaron. Nicky knows that Andrew won't go, and begs Neil to help convince him. Neil does, and Andrew agrees, only if they move the date. Nicky, the twins, Kevin and Neil all go to the suburbs of Southern Columbia, to Nicky's childhood home. They share a tense, Thanksgiving meal, during which Andrew disappears. Neil tells Kevin, Nicky and Aaron he'll go find Andrew. Luther, Nicky's father, tells him there's no need, that he's talking with Drake, and Neil filled with anxiety, rushes off to find him. When Neil finds Andrew, Drake is attacking him, and Aaron who is right behind Neil, and holding Neil's exy racquet, hits Drake over the head, killing him. Neil, Nicky, Kevin and Aaron are horrified to realise that this was not the first time Drake had sexually assaulted him. After Aaron is taken into the custody of police and Andrew is released from the hospital, where he had been taken right after the attack, the group go to the cousin's house in Columbia, joined by Wymack, Abbey and Bee (the Foxes' psychologist). After a discussion with Andrew and Aaron's lawyers, the decision is made to send Andrew to a rehabilitation clinic, Easthaven, in order to take him off his medication early and to allow him to be able to process and recover from what has just happened. Andrew is reluctant to go due to Kevin, but Neil makes a promise to protect him, giving Andrew another piece of truth, in order to gain Andrew's trust. Andrew leaves and the rest of the group, joined by Aaron, go back to campus. Another banquet takes place, this time the Christmas banquet. The teams continuing on in the championship games are announced to be, Edgar Allen Ravens, Palmetto State Foxes, Breckenridge Jackals and Belmonte. At the banquet, Riko tells Neil that he's going to spend the Christmas break at Edgar Allen, to train with the Ravens, and tells him that if he refuses, he will put Andrew and Kevin in danger. Neil agrees to go. During his time at Evermore, the dorm and training space of the Edgar Allen Ravens, Neil discovers that the team works on a pair based system, and that his actions had consequences for both himself, and Jean, who he'd been partnered with. He also makes the shocking discovery, that the reason Kevin chose to escape to the Palmetto State Foxes is that he discovered that Coach Wymack is his father. Throughout this section of the novel Neil is beaten, trained to exhaustion and tortured, due to his refusal to obey the commands of Riko and Tetsuji, the coach of the Ravens.

The novel makes a significant shift to Neil arriving back in South Carolina, choosing to leave out the things Neil experienced during his time at Evermore. He calls Wymack to come pick him up, upon which Wymack tells him that he "sounds like Neil, but he doesn't look like him"[2]. Neil realises that Riko had dyed his hair back to his natural colour, and removed his contacts, making Neil remark that "this was his father's face", the one he was trying to remove himself from.[2] Wymack then asks Neil what he has on his face and upon looking in the mirror discovers the number 4 tattooed upon his cheek. Neil takes a knife to try and remove it, but Wymack wrestles the knife out of his grab, and consoles him. Neil tells Wymack that he didn't sign the contract and that he's still a fox to which Wymack says "of course you are".[2] The novel ends with Neil and Wymack sitting on Wymack's couch, watching the New Year tick over, and Neil telling the reader that "facing the foxes on the court this spring would be the last mistake Riko ever made"[3].

The King's Men (Book 3)

This novel makes up the conclusion of the series, in which, the final battle between the Foxes and the Ravens takes place, and Neil has to face his violent and traumatic past, while also becoming involved in an unexpected romance with Andrew Minyard.

Setting

Palmetto State University

Palmetto State University, is the main backdrop for the majority of the series. Located in Columbia, South Carolina, the University, and in particular the stadium and athlete dormitories, Fox Tower, are where most of the storyline takes place.

Columbia, South Carolina

Columbia, South Carolina, despite being the location of the Palmetto State campus, also includes settings such as the cousin's house, the diner Sweetie's and the night club Eden's Twilight; the two of which the characters in Andrew's group visit frequently.

Edgar Allen University (Evermore)

Edgar Allen University, particularly the Raven's dormitories and stadium coined 'Evermore', becomes a significant setting for the second novel. The University is located in Charleston, West Virginia.

Baltimore

Baltimore provides the setting for a significant portion of the plot in the third novel, where Neil is taken back to his childhood home.

Major Characters

  • Neil Josten
  • Andrew Minyard
  • Kevin Day
  • Riko Moriyama
  • Coach Wymack
  • Matt Boyd
  • Nicky Hemmick
  • Aaron Minyard
  • Dan Wilds
  • Renee Walker
  • Allison Reynolds
  • Seth Gordon
  • Jean Moreau
  • Nathan Wesninski
  • Abbey Winfield
  • Betsy Dobson

Exy

Exy is a fictional sport developed by Sakavic for the series, and is described as being a version of lacrosse with the violent disposition of ice hockey. It was developed by Kayleigh Day and Tetsuji Moriyama, 30 years before the start of the series.[3] It is played on a soccer-sized court surrounded by a plexiglass wall, for rebounding and passing, as well as audience protection. There are four different positions: striker, dealer, backliner and goalkeeper and six players are allowed on the court at one time. Sakavic goes into more detail about the sport at the conclusion of the second book, The Raven King.

File:Palmetto state foxes exy field.jpg
Diagram of the Palmetto State Foxes exy court, including court size and player positions.

Teams and the Draw

Palmetto State Foxes

The Palmetto State Foxes were founded by the Coach David Wymack and are originally described by Neil as being "a team of talented rejects and junkies because Wymack only recruited athletes from broken homes"[2]. In the series, the Foxes are considered a particularly small team, especially after the death of Seth Gordon and Andrew's brief removal from the team due to his rehabilitation. Before the beginning of the novel, the Foxes had come "dead last" in the previous three NCAA seasons.[2]

Palmetto State Foxes
Name Palmetto State Foxes
Short name Foxes, Palmetto State
Sport Exy
League NCAA
Division Class I
Location Columbia, South Carolina
Stadium Palmetto State University Stadium
Colours Orange and White
Template:Color box Template:Color box
Coach David Wymack
Captain Dan Wilds
Members #1 Dan Wilds, Offensive Dealer

#2 Kevin Day, Striker

#3 Andrew Minyard, Goalkeeper

#4 Matt Boyd, Backliner

#5 Aaron Minyard, Backliner

#6 Seth Gordon, Striker

#7 Allison Reynolds, Defensive Dealer

#8 Nicky Hemmick, Backliner

#9 Renee Walker, Goalkeeper

#10 Neil Josten, Striker

Edgar Allen Ravens

Edgar Allen Ravens
Name Edgar Allen Ravens
Short name Ravens, Edgar Allen
Sport Exy
League NCAA
Division Class I
Location Charleston, West Virginia
Stadium Evermore, Edgar Allen University Stadium
Colours Red and Black
Template:Color box Template:Color box
Coach Tetsuji Moriyama
Captain Riko Moriyama
Members #1 Riko Moriyama, Striker

#3 Jean Moreau, Backliner

Engle, Striker

Jenkins, Striker

Williams, Striker

Reacher, Backliner

Johnson, Backliner

Breckenridge Jackals

Breckenridge Jackals
Name Breckenridge Jackals
Short name Jackals, Breckenridge
Sport Exy
League NCAA
Division Class I
Location Breckenridge, Colorado
Stadium Breckenridge University Stadium
Colours Tan and Black
Template:Color box Template:Color box
Members #16 'Gorilla' Hawking, Backliner

Leverett, Backliner

USC Trojans

USC Trojans
Name USC Trojans
Short name USC, Trojans
Sport Exy
League NCAA
Division Class I
Location University of Southern California
Stadium USC Stadium
Colours Red and Gold
Template:Color box Template:Color box
Coach James Rheman
Captain Jeremy Knox
Members Jeremy Knox

Laila Dermott, Goalkeeper

Alvarez

Others

  • JD Campbell Tornadoes
  • Binghampton Bearcats
  • UT Longhorns
  • Belmonte Terrapins
  • UV Catamounts
  • Penn State
  • Wilkes-Myer Hornets

Genres and Themes

The All for the Game series, is predominantly aimed at young adults, from late teens to early twenties, and adults. The series fits into many different genre categories, Young Adult fiction, Sports fiction, Romance fiction and LGBT+ fiction[4]. The novel also features some aspects of the crime and mafia genre, a contrast to the sports centric theme of the novel.

Content Warnings

The series, despite being young adult fiction, has many themes and events that may be upsetting for some readers. The series deals with issues such as

  • drug abuse, addiction and overdose
  • physical abuse
  • sexual abuse, including sexual assault as well as jokes about sexual assault
  • homophobia and homophobic slurs
  • suicide and self harm
  • violence and gore
  • child abuse
  • torture
  • drugging
  • murder

Critical Reception

Sakavic's novels, despite being self published and having little to no promotion, have created significant traction with young adult audiences, gaining in many cases, 4-5 star reviews on sites such as Amazon and Barnes and Noble.[5] Due to this popularity, the series has gained interest from journalists from sources including Publisher's Weekly and Herald Scotland.[6]

References

External Links

The Foxhole Court on WorldCat