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Literature / All For The Game

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The All For the Game series is a 2013 book series by Nora Sakavic. The story revolves around the Palmetto State Foxes, an NCAA Exy team. It is primarily a Sports Story and follows a storyline typical of the genre—with added drugs, violence, and gangsters.

Main character Neil Josten is in hiding, on the run from his mob boss father. He's a Consummate Liar who is just trying to lay low, but when he plays Exy for one of the high schools he's gone to, somehow he catches the attention of David Wymack, head coach of a Divison I college team. He shouldn't say yes to the offer, but he does—and is instantly plunged into a world of tangled relationships, shady deals, lots of violence, and The Power of Friendship.


The series consists of three books:

  • The Foxhole Court
  • The Raven King
  • The King's Men

Tropes present in this series include:

  • Abusive Parents: True for many of the Foxes, specifically Neil, Nicky, Andrew, and Aaron.
    • Neil's parents are an extreme case of this, given that his father was known as "The Butcher of Baltimore" and physically abused him to the point where he is unwilling to take off his shirt in front of others, at one point burning him with an iron when he gave too much information to the police. His mother was also physically abusive, although her abuse left less physical scars.
  • The Ace: Kevin Day for the Foxes, Riko Moriyama for the Ravens.
  • All Abusers Are Male: Many of them are, but there are a couple instances - namely, Neil's mother and Aaron's mother - where this is not the case.
  • An Offer You Can't Refuse: Riko convinces Neil to come to Castle Evermore for Christmas by threatening Andrew.
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  • Archnemesis Dad: Neil and his father.
  • Awesomeness by Analysis: Kevin, on the Exy court.
  • Berserk Button: Andrew has several of these, mainly anyone attacking Neil, Aaron, or Kevin, or being touched without his consent.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Renee states that she is "a bad person trying very hard to be a good person", despite her outward appearance of pure benevolence.
  • The Big Damn Kiss: Neil and Andrew in The King's Men.
  • Big Damn Reunion: When Neil reunites with Andrew after nearly being killed by his father.
  • The Big Guy: Matt is one of the team's backliners and is described as being big. He is one of the few characters in the series who is tall.
  • Blonde, Brunette, Redhead: Andrew, Kevin, and Neil, once his hair is back to its natural color.
  • Career-Ending Injury: Kevin's broken hand was expected to be one, but he continued playing with his non-dominant hand instead.
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  • Cool Car: Andrew buys a Maserati mid-series.
  • Consummate Liar: Neil has been lying to survive for years, and he is very good at it, to the point where Andrew calls him a pathological liar on multiple occasions.
  • Crippling the Competition: Kevin's hand.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: Many of the Foxes, since their team is composed entirely of kids with troubled childhoods.
  • David vs. Goliath: The Palmetto State Foxes are the laughingstock of Class I Exy, going up against the Ravens, the undefeated champion team.
  • Death by Origin Story: Neil's mother.
  • Department of Child Disservices: Andrew was abused repeatedly while he was in foster care. To be fair, it's unknown whether anyone found out about this and took action to help him, but given the way he speaks about his time in the system, it's unlikely.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Riko Moriyama is the king of this.
  • Fictional Sport: Exy, which is primarily based on lacrosse with elements of hockey and indoor soccer.
  • Foster Kid: Andrew.
  • Half-Truth: Neil is very fond of these.
  • Hates Being Touched: Andrew, to an extreme degree. It is later revealed that this is because he was sexually abused and raped multiple times as a child.
  • Hollywood Kiss: Neil and Andrew's first kiss. The aftermath, not so much.
  • Incredibly Lame Pun: The Ravens' stadium is called both the Raven's Nest and Castle Evermore.
  • Internal Reveal:
    • When Kevin finds out Neil's true identity.
    • Kevin reveals that his hand was not broken in a skiing accident to reporters during an interview in The King's Men.
  • Intoxication Ensues: Often, mostly on weekends or after games.
  • Knife Nut: Andrew, Riko, and Nathan.
  • Killed Off for Real: Seth, Riko, Nathan Wesninski, and others.
  • Make It Look Like an Accident: Seth.
  • A Man Is Always Eager: Averted. Neil is uninterested in sex until he develops feelings for Andrew, and due to Andrew's history of sexual trauma, he doesn't always want it either.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: The Butcher.
  • Never Suicide: Riko.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain!: Killing Seth was probably the one thing Riko could have done to get the Foxes to start working together as a team.
  • Offing the Mouth: Subversion. Neil isn't the one who dies for his inability to shut his mouth. Seth is.
  • Opposing Sports Team: The Edgar Allan Ravens.
  • Pint-Sized Powerhouse: Andrew and Aaron are short, but that doesn't stop them from being excellent Exy players.
  • Pre-Sacrifice Final Goodbye: When Neil is kidnapped to be brought to his father, he briefly gets a chance to speak to his team before he is taken away to what he is certain will be his death. Andrew is the only one who recognizes that something is wrong, and Neil's final (or so he believes) words to him are "Thank you. You were amazing."
  • Public Secret Message: When he is kidnapped by his father's henchmen, Neil purposefully leaves his bag in the parking lot, trusting that Andrew and Kevin will know that something happened to him, since they know he would never leave it behind willingly.
  • Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: The Foxes.
  • Rape as Backstory: Andrew was sexually abused many times while he was in foster care, beginning when he was seven and continuing until he left the system.
  • Rape as Drama: In The Raven King, Drake, one of Andrew's former abusers, returns and rapes him again; shortly afterward, Andrew is sent to a rehab facility to come off his medication, where one of the doctors forces him to re-enact his trauma. All of this was set up as an elaborate plot by Riko in an attempt to get to Neil and get Andrew off the team.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Coach David Wymack.
  • Red and Black and Evil All Over: The Ravens, in spades.
  • Removing the Rival: Kevin's hand was broken to remove him from Exy.
  • The Reveal: When Neil, and the reader, learns that the reason his mother decided they needed to go on the run was because his father had planned to sell Neil to the Moriyamas to repay a debt.
  • The Sociopath: Subverted. Many characters, initially including Neil, view Andrew as a sociopath, but it turns out that this is very far from the truth.
  • Team Spirit: The Foxes gain a lot of it as the series goes on.
  • Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: The Foxes have a lot of friction as they try to resolve their issues, but they still play Exy together.
  • There Are No Therapists: Averted. The team has a therapist — Betsy Dobson — and the team visits her at the start of each season. Andrew has weekly mandatory sessions until he's taken off his medication at the end of The Raven King, although he continues to see her voluntarily.
  • Token Religious Teammate: It's not a plot point, but Renee is a devoted Christian.
  • Training from Hell: The Ravens are extremely... driven.
  • Trauma Conga Line: Neil and Andrew, both in their respective childhoods and throughout the events of the second and third books.
  • True Companions: The Foxes.
  • Underdogs Never Lose
  • Unnecessary Roughness: Happens regularly in Exy games. It's described as being like lacrosse with the violence of hockey.
  • Unstoppable Rage: When he and Neil walk in on Drake raping Andrew, Aaron immediately kills him with Neil's racquet.
  • Wham Line: Several.
    • Andrew admits his attraction to Neil by responding to Neil saying he hates him with "that doesn't mean I wouldn't blow you", which shocks Neil so much he almost falls over.
Neil: Who said 'please' that made you hate the word so much?
Andrew: I did.
  • You Are Not Alone: Neil has spent his entire life believing that he could trust no one, but by the end of the series this is no longer the case.


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