“It’s not the world that’s cruel. It’s the people in it. “
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.
Before I start I want to say that this is a heavy book. It has mental and physical abuse, rape, murder, suicide thoughts, and many other heavy topics.
I started this book knowing it was about sports, but part me thought it was gonna have some form of urban fantasy. I was wrong. This is 100% about sports, Exy to exact. (Exy is like an extreme version of lacrosse that has male and females in a single team with a lot more beating each other up with a racket.)
As well as being about sports, the story also features a bunch of college students struggling because life is not fair. Through the trilogy we follow the story of Neil, a boy who has been on the run from his father. One night he signs up to play alongside a Class I Exy team, the Palmetto State’s Foxes. The lowest ranking team in the division.
Here Neil meets a dysfunctional team of monsters (Andrew, Aaron, Kevin and Nicky) and upperclassmen (Matt, Dan, Allison, Seth and Renee ). Together they all grow as a team as Neil deals with the people he tried to run away from.
I read the three books back to back in a span of a week. I didn’t think I would get hooked, especially on a contemporary about sports. But alas, I was wrong. Neil’s story is full of pain and sass, and all I wanted to do was hug him.
“Remember this feeling. This is the moment you stop being the rabbit.“
Like I said before, this book deals with some pretty heavy themes that caught me off guard. There was an assault scene in the book that left me beyond angered, it made me hate several characters (whom I later forgave a bit but not completely). This book is not for everyone, especially if certain things trigger you. I don’t even think the book has any warnings, even though it should because goddamn. These characters go through some pretty heavy stuff.
Nora Sakavic’s writing is pretty straightforward. It is not overly descriptive nor lacking in detail. My only complaint is that the sports scenes (the games/matches) were a bit confusing when I read them. I am not a sports fan. Sakavic explains the rules of Exy several times throughout the three books but it just did not click in my mind…so the matches were just a big “What’s going on!! Whaaaat!?”
My favorite part of the whole story was watching Neil allow himself to become an important player with his team, rather than an outsider watching this group of misfits from the sidelines. He goes from Neil the outsider to Neil, #10 Fox striker.
“Hope was a dangerous, disquieting thing, but he thought perhaps he liked it.“