“Neil had been doing one stupid thing after another all year long and this had turned into the best year of his life.”
Title: The King’s Men
Author: Nora Sakavic
Why you should read this book: Because OH MY HEAVENS, this conclusion of the trilogy is so beautiful.
This review will contain a lot of spoilers of probably the whole series and a lot of spoilery quotes because this book has too many wonderful quotes that maybe writing the whole book would’ve been faster.
Read this after finishing this book: it has a lot of answers from the author about what happened during the books and after. Trust me, it’s worth every hour you’ll spend reading it, and you’ll spend hours in it (my personal experience).
“Everything about you is a bad idea.”
Summary from Goodreads:
Neil Josten is out of time. He knew when he came to PSU he wouldn’t survive the year, but with his death right around the corner he’s got more reasons than ever to live.
Befriending the Foxes was inadvisable. Kissing one is unthinkable. Neil should know better than to get involved with anyone this close to the end, but Andrew’s never been the easiest person to walk away from. If they both say it doesn’t mean anything, maybe Neil won’t regret losing it, but the one person Neil can’t lie to is himself.
He’s got promises to keep and a team to get to championships if he can just outrun Riko a little longer, but Riko’s not the only monster in Neil’s life. The truth might get them all killed—or be Neil’s one shot at getting out of this alive.
“For a moment Neil felt trapped, stuck between what he wanted and what he needed, what he’d never have or be and what he had but couldn’t keep.”
If I could give this book a million stars, I would. It took my breath away and, as much as it might seem easy (I give a lot of high ratings), there aren’t many books that makes me feel this way. I gave up sleep for it and I LOVE sleeping more than I love eating which is a lot, trust me.
“Don’t look at me like that. I am not your answer, and you sure as fuck aren’t mine.”
I don’t know where to start so I might start by saying a little bit about every single character in it. I’m not starting with Neil because it’ll be too long, I’m leaving him and Andrew for last.
Wymack: the coach of the Foxes. A man with a lot of patience, he is giving his soul for this boys, he wants them to succeed and nothing will stop him, not even murderers or japanese yakuza. He is 2000% committed to the team and he will do his best for them to be their best selves. Thanks to Neil’s arrival things were pretty bad sometimes but Neil’s big mouth helped a lot improving the team’s spirit. The twist about him being Kevin’s father really took me by surprise, I didn’t see that coming.
“I can walk,” Neil said.
“Proud of you,” Wymack said. “Didn’t ask.”
Abby: the nurse of the Foxes. She is the only who’d seen Neil’s scars and didn’t say anything. It might’ve been a terrible sight but she trusted him and Neil wanted it to be kept a secret. Abby and Wymack aren’t officially in a relationship and there aren’t many hints so I don’t know what to think. Are they together, aren’t they together, are they best friends? Who knows? I love how Abby is always around for the boys even if they don’t need medical help.
Betsy: the school’s psychiatrist. Neil doesn’t like her at first and doesn’t understand why Andrew likes her since he is forced to go to weekly sessions with her. He didn’t seem the type to enjoy telling her things about him. Betsy helped Andrew a lot, you can see he getting better and, thanks to Neil’s being nosey as usual, she is also helping Andrew and Aaron’s weird situation.
Allison: She is the rich one of the group, she doesn’t look like an exy player. She gave up most of her money to be free from her parents’ world. At the end of the first book Seth, her boyfriend, dies and it takes Allison to a very dark place but she is a strong girl and, even if it takes a little bit, she rises again stronger and more determined. At first I didn’t think much of her but from half of the second book she started talking more and I think she is an interesting character. The vacation she organized and paid was what everyone needed. I like how she taught about the others well-being. I love how she was almost the first one to notice something was going on between Andrew and Neil. Come on, they were staring each other down every single day.
“You don’t think I book my own travel, do you? Who has time for that?”
“Everyone else in the real world,” Dan said dryly.
Matt: Big and tall, he can be scary but I think him as a cuddly kind of guy. He is the son of a boxer and apparently his mom is his world and a little bit scary. Neil was afraid of meeting her after what he heard about what happened the year before his arrival at Palmetto. Matt cares about Neil, they share the dorm suite and wants to learn more about Neil without forcing him to talk since he knows his past isn’t normal. Matt wants Neil to trust him and he is willing to wait even if he doesn’t look very patient.
Dan: The Foxes’ captain and stronger woman character I’ve read in a very long time. She has to be since she was chosen to be the leader of the team and was judged okay by Andrew to do so. Dan was a stripper when he was younger, she had to take care of her family and had to make money to survive. She is a strong, independent and determined young woman, she knows what she wants, tries her best to get what she needs and leads her team the best she can. I love how Dan starts being protective of Neil every time he does something not clever or when he is dragged around by Andrew and company.
Renee: The surprise lady, the born again christian with a dark past. I really didn’t see that coming and I was happy Neil started talking to her because I thought she was adorable yet scary and mysterious. She is really good friends with Andrew and I think she understood very soon what was going on inside his head. I think she smiled or grinned at Andrew a lot thinking about what she found out. She is a strong lady, scary when she needs to be, an angel when the circumstances allow it. Thanks to the author’s answers to fans questions I know she is happy, with a husband (not Jean, unfortunately), kids and a job. Good for her!
“This,” Neil flicked his finger to indicate the two of them, “isn’t worthless.”
“There is no ‘this’. This is nothing.”
“And I am nothing,” Neil prompted. When Andrew gestured confirmation, Neil said, “And as you’ve always said, you want nothing.”
Nicky: Chatty as only he can be. The twins’ cousin and bringer of fun jokes and alcohol since he is, for now, the only one over 21. At first he was only on Andrew’s lot side but after the first book, maybe after Andrew was sent to Eastheaven, you can see that he wants to be friends with the rest of the team. The only problem? Andrew doesn’t socialize. Nicky doesn’t want to team to be two separate halves but he is not brave enough to say something about it. Luckily Neil comes to the rescue as usual. It seems that when Neil doesn’t like something he says it and tries changing it bringing to himself Andrew’s wrath. Nicky is not that crazy to try. What does Neil usually do? He asks. Oh, Neil!
Aaron: Andrew’s twin, separated from him when they were born. Their mom put them both in foster care but then came back and took only one: Aaron. That ugly witch beat the hell out of him and it took years before someone did something about it. And who did it? Of course it was Andrew. He was reached out and after some time he went to meet Aaron, learned what was going on and couldn’t leave it, he had to do something about it. That is one of the reasons Aaron and Andrew don’t speak to each other, they’ve known each other for only 2 years and made a deal to survive until graduation. That deal consisted of no distraction such as girlfriends for Aaron and that wasn’t ok since he fell for a Vixen, the Foxes’ cheerleaders. At first Aaron was annoying, then he was better and when he said that thing about Andrew and Neil during the last party they had, I loved him. You did right, boy, and I appreciate it. We all appreciate it. You thought Andrew wouldn’t fight for him? In his defense, he did think there was something more that hate sex between them, so the whole thing played in his favor after all and now he and Katelyn can have a long and miserable life together. This whole thing? Also thanks to big-mouth Neil.
“Kevin took the news as well as Neil thought he might and locked himself in the upstairs bedroom to have a panic attack.”
Kevin: Coward shaky chicken Kevin. He grew so much as a character from the first book. It was almost unbelievable. It took him long enough to stand for himself. He is stubborn and literally obsessed with exy and everything related to it. He recruited Neil, not because he knew who he was and their connection, but because he really saw a raw talent in him and wanted to make him a pro exy player. Kevin has lots of secrets he revealed to Andrew and then to Neil, they are about his time being a Raven, the most evil exy team in the whole world, the violence he had to suffer and was done to him that took him away from them and to the Foxes. Kevin doesn’t speak much, he opens up a little bit in the third book. I think Neil was the best thing it could happen to him, Neil was the courage he was missing and he needed it.
“Last I checked you hated me,” Neil said against Andrew’s mouth.
“Everything about you,” Andrew said.”
Andrew: The best quotes are all said by Andrew. My little goalkeeper with zero motivation and a lot of trust issues. He opens up only to Neil and he assures us that he hates him. I think he hates the fact that he is falling so hard for him that is becoming too difficult to keep the “I don’t want anything” mask on. Andrew wants Neil, he chooses Neil, helps him, treats him bad, forces him to tell him the truth. What he hates most is that he is willing to let himself go when he is with Neil, and that can be scary as hell! The little concessions he gives Neil he hasn’t given those to anyone ever! His character development, along with Neil’s, is the best in the entire trilogy. First he was drugged by pills to help him be less aggressive, then he is off his meds and became an apathetic human being with no emotions: he really never smiles, maybe only once, a slow and cold smile for Kevin. He wishes he had no emotion but the first thing he does when he is back from rehab is reach for Neil, letting him in his bubble, pretending it is nothing while is so much more. He keeps repeating there is no “them”, they are not anything but then he reaches for Neil’s face, he pushes him to the wall and kisses him like that’s the best thing in the world. And maybe it is. A person can be so blind when it comes to feelings but Andrew is no normal person, he has a terrible past of rape and violence so of course he is not ready to let himself go. I’m just happy he did, in his own way. It will take a lot of time to adjust but he and Neil will be together for a very long time and Andrew will learn to trust him with his life and body, he will let Neil touch him and they will be able to make themselves happy as a couple. No more one sided thing, no more violence, no more lies. There is no going back when feelings strong like those are involved.
“Nine percent of the time I don’t want to kill you. I always hate you.”
“Every time you say that I believe you a little less.”
“No one asked you.” With that, Andrew caught Neil’s face in his hands and leaned in.
Neil: Our beloved main character with all the problems of the world. We left him last book being back from Christmas break he spent in Castle Evermore, home of the Ravens!! He came back a mess, new scars all over his body, a new horrendous tattoo on his face (what is wrong with Riko and his obsession with branding people??), blood everywhere and with his original looks back. He now has his real auburn hair color and his bright blue eyes. He is not used to look like that anymore, he looks too much like his father and this is unsettling. His father plays a big role in this book, he ordered Neil kidnapped and brought to him to kill him very slowly. The things they did to him were awful, I’m just glad he seems to be strong enough now to move on and look for a happiness he deserves. He thinks about his teammates, not his life, he is willing to sacrifice himself for them, for Andrew, the best thing that could’ve happen to him. After being kidnapped and saved he is forced to tell the truth to his teammates and Andrew is so mad he didn’t know the extent of Neil’s situation. Andrew is angrier because now he is 500% sure he can’t let Neil go, they are in this thing together and there is no denying it now. When the two of them meet after the kidnapping, every single member of the team realizes there is something more about Andrew and Neil that there wasn’t before. Everyone but Kevin and Wymack are speechless. Well, Kevin is always watching Neil and Andrew, this change was pretty obvious to him. Maybe they are not your typical couple, they are not cuddly, they don’t show affection to each other in public or in private, Andrew keeps saying how he hates Neil but they are what the other needed. In private they of course fo what couples do but right now they don’t over share, they don’t talk about trivial stuff, they are learning to trust each other and they want to make “them” work. By the end of the book Andrew doesn’t deny what they are anymore, he knows that this thing between them is more that they expected it to be (“Andrew, who for once hadn’t wasted their time denying that this thing between them might actually mean something to both of them.”). Neil’s obsession with exy is driving Andrew less crazy as time passes and it’s nice he is starting to see how good things can get. They will have each other and they will have exy and, apparently, they will also have 2 cats and an apartment in Colorado.
“This was everything he wanted, everything he needed, and Neil was never
I loved this third book a little more than the ones before only because the characters were at their peak. They came together as a team to help each other and to excel in the game they all love to play.
I love this book more also because of the many Andreil scenes. I love how those two complement each other. It’s scary and cute at the same time. I have a confession: since I finished this a couple days ago I’ve been reading and re-reading a lot of scenes, understanding so much than I did when I first read it. This book is special, I can keep reading it nonstop and it will still be as good (if not better) than the first time.
“How a man who viewed the world with such studied disconnect could kiss like this, Neil didn’t know, but he wasn’t going to complain.”
That’s Andrew to you, a boy with a really rough past unwillingly opening to the most troublesome boy he could’ve found. The result is so spectacular it’s painful.
I will think about this trilogy for a very long time, that’s for sure! I’ve already scheduled a buddy re-read of the trilogy with a Goodreads friend. I can’t wait!
Do I recommend it? After the longest and spoilerest review I’ve written do you think I wouldn’t recommend it??? You’re crazy. But if you’ve read the review then sorry, you know almost everything there was to know about these books.
☆: It made my “favourite books” list