The Raven King (All for the Game #2), Nora Sakavic
Genre: New Adult, Psychological, Sports
Length: 266 pages
WARNING: The Raven King contains a series of dark themes including, but not limited to, abuse, murder, drug use and bullying. If these themes are likely to offend you, or are not to your reading taste, please do not read this review, and take these themes into consideration before reading this book.
If you are new to the All for the Game series I strongly suggest you read Book 1, The Foxhole Court, before reading The Raven King. It is available for free, so you’ve got no excuse. My review can be found here. Hope you enjoy this series as much as I have.
“He forgave himself for being jaded. At eighteen years old, he’d seen more people die than he could comfortably count.”
Just like it’s predecessor, I am finding The Raven King very difficult to define and review; there’s the return of the super violent sport of Exy, as well as heightened levels of the same action, drama, abuse, bullying and gay themes that made me love The Foxhole Court. Having now been exposed to this author’s style I was prepared for the unique writing style, and I absolutely loved it.
This book picks up right where The Foxhole Court finishes, with the first game of the Exy season just completed by the Palmetto State Foxes and the epic TV interview aftermath fresh in the minds of everyone. Neil (not his real name) confronted Riko, the self designated king of Exy, to defend Kevin from this dangerous offspring of a criminal empire. In doing so, though, he established a powerful enemy, one who will stop at nothing to discover the truth about this young fool who had the gall to insult him.
Reeling from the death of Seth, the Foxes are determined, more than ever, to unite as a family and get revenge on the Ravens, Riko’s team, for orchestrating this despicable act. Looking at it objectively, they can see that the loss of Seth is, oddly enough, a good thing, since he was the one who instigated almost every fight the team has ever had. Looming in the near future is the showdown with The Ravens, and, as always seems to be the case, Neil has to consider his future and whether laying down roots and connections with these people, and these friends, is worth risking his life.
Pasts come back to haunt everyone in The Raven King with Neil, Andrew, Kevin and the rest of the Foxes all having their demons to face, as Riko and his gang attempt to destroy them physically, emotionally and psychologically.
Piling On the Goals (A.K.A. What I Loved)
An Excellent Sequel
A strong opening book does not mean a strong series, but so far I am yet to be disappoint by All for the Game. This sequel is even better than the first book, taking on the established, dark and violent world of NCAA Exy and building it up to even greater heights.
The Exy action is as detailed as usual, with this imaginary sport coming across as something that could be real in the world. But what I absolutely loved about The Raven King is that everything that made the first book great is back again, better then ever.
As a main protagonist Neil is amongst the most mysterious that I have ever dealt with. At the end of The Raven King the readers discover what is probably his most closely guarded secret – his real name. There were also various tidbits on offer surrounding the eight years Neil spent on the run, but the readers are still left guessing at the full story surrounding his past up until the very end.
Development of his character is brilliantly portrayed in this volume, with his level of trust rising ever so slowly over the course of the Exy season. The physical and emotional scars of past abuse still haunt Neil’s every waking moment but, instead of pushing others away, he is finally opening up (albeit very selectively) to his team-mates, and is able to trust this family that has built itself around him. Like before this is all wonderfully captured in his internal dialogue, and how he is now willing to sacrifice himself for others is beautifully written.
The Other Foxes
As Riko and his associates attempt to destroy the Foxes, each persons past is revealed; some more shocking then others, but each account shows how this team is truly made of the most fractured individuals available. Coach Wymack has always selected his team on this basis; his true motives for doing so remain mysterious, but his theory seems to be paying off ,with the group finding solace in each other and becoming a family…. Well, dysfunctional family may be a better way to describe it.
To go into these personal stories would ruin the very nature of this book, and I refuse to do that to potential readers for this book. But I can say that the story of Nicky, Aaron and especially Andrew, is truly harrowing, and the fact these young men are still functioning today is a sheer miracle. I loved how the author dealt with this multitude of dark and abusive pasts, and it is one of the items that made The Raven King an excellent book to read.
What Was Slightly Iffy…..
Aside from the fact that I have to wait a couple of months to read the final instalment in this series I couldn’t really find too much that turned me off about The Raven King. A relatively minor issue was that of the editing. At a couple of points in this book there were grammatical and paragraph errors. These did not deter my reading speed or the level of intensity and, as a result, there is no way I can count this against an otherwise highly intriguing book.
(N.B: For all the self-publishers out there, please remember to close your quotation marks.)
There is no happy ending to The Raven King, just like there was none for the first volume in this trilogy. This book ends on a darker note than the first, but this time there is a slight glimmer of hope – a fool’s hope – but hope nevertheless. As a middle volume of a trilogy The Raven King is a thoroughly excellent book, demonstrating that, despite an unbeatable enemy crushing you time and time again, taking a small chink out of their armour can inspire everyone to continue on the fight. I, again, recommend this book to all readers of dark New Adult fiction, as it is by far and away the best series in this genre that I have yet to read.
“He was their family. They were his. They were worth every cut and bruise and scream.”