Book Review: The Raven King by Nora Sakavic
WHAT! This installment was even crazier than the first! I have to start this off with a big fat *TRIGGER WARNING* for rape and abuse. This book is even more brutal on our characters than the first one so if that will be hard for you to read then I'd definitely say to avoid this one.
Here are some of my favorite things about this installment:
1) The world building.
In my review for the first book I talked about how The Foxhole Court was very character driven as opposed to plot driven. I didn't mind that because the characters were so interesting, but WOW. Sakavic really upped her game here (pun intended lol). Not only are the characters even more well rounded and complex this time around, so is the world. That seems like a bit of an odd thing to say for a book world that isn't a fantasy and is modeled similarly to how we live today, but I now understand much more about all the players in the story. Not only Neil and the Team, but the Moriyama's now feel more like individual people as opposed to one aggressive entity. I also feel like we got a much better understanding of the Exy team dynamics and terrain.
2) The teamwork.
It was hinted at in the first book that Neil would be the one that would link the team together into a more cohesive unit and I was SO STOKED when that started to come to fruition! For the Foxes to be able to come together and get along on and off the court was huge to me. It got rid of that inner tension and allowed the story to focus on the team's collective turmoil with the Raven's as a united front. Obviously, it is still a little bumpy and there's some room for improvement, but I am so down for everyone putting the effort in to be a team!
3) The support systems.
I didn't really know how to word this one, but the gist of my thoughts is that I liked the focus on rehabilitating Andrew's health. Clearly his medication was causing him more problems in his manic states that it was helping him. I kept getting so frustrated with Kevin's insistences that Andrew had to come off his medication at a certain time for a certain purpose. That purpose obviously being Exy. I hated that Andrew's health was being treated almost like a thing that had to be penciled in at a convenient time. I was so relieved as a reader when Betsy and Nail agreed that it was time Andrew get some help instead of complacently letting him get away with substance abuse. It was like putting a foot down and saying, I don't know what this will mean for our season, BUT as your friend I want you to have the chance to get better without the cloud of medication in the way. Because as much as medication works for some people, it clearly was not working for Andrew. Also, it was something instituted by the courts in response to him defending Nicky, as opposed to Andrew actually willingly and consensually agreeing to get on the medication in the first place.
4) Breaking down Neil's walls.
Its been a brutal journey to get to this point. We found out even more about Neil than we did in the first book and let's be honest there are some things we wish we could forget. Those last couple chapters had my heart racing so fast. Obviously any kind of abuse is incredibly hard to read, but this was so, so repulsive. What happened to Neil and Andrew makes me physically uncomfortable just thinking about it and I think the fact that it makes so many of us reader so uncomfortable is a very telling thing. No matter how problematic some of the content in this book is I'm so glad its opened up some really though provoking conversations about consent. I'm glad that both characters are getting some help, but I really hope they can pull through in the last book.
All in all, in a lot of ways this was a much harder read than the first book. We got some awesome dimension to the characters and world, which I absolutely loved. BUT, its pretty evident that these characters' lives aren't going to be getting any easier any time soon. I can't wait to dig into the next book!
Some favorite quotes:
- "Some of the strongest people I've known are women."
- "He was their family. They were his. They were worth every cut and bruise and scream."
- "You can't cut down someone who's already in the gutter."
Where to find The Raven King: