The Academy: Game On by Monica Seles and James LaRosa (ARC Review)

Release date: 1 July 2013

Publisher: Bloomsbury Australia

Number of pages: 256

My rating: 1/5

The tagline for this book might as well be:

In a tennis academy, screw tennis. Yay for teen drama!!

This book is apparently for fans of the Gallagher Girls. Well, thanks for the lie.

This book was pathetic. Everything about it like characterisation, plot, tennis content, and common sense fails. I felt like clawing my eyes out after a few paragraphs.

The Academy: Game On is about a top notch sporting school. It offers many sports. Our main character, Maya has earned a scholarship to come and train with the best. On the way, she meets heaps of bitches, and two awesome friends. Together, they try to navigate The Academy.

I actually like tennis. Not nearly as much as horse riding, but it's a great sport. I was looking forward to this sport, because I was hoping to learn more about tennis, and how the professional world actually works. According to this book, professional tennis is all about who you date, and what $30000 dress you wear to the hottest club. Seriously! The only tennis terminology used was "tweener" and "restrung racquet." 95% of the book focuses on pathetic teen drama.

Here are the general things featured in a sporty boarding school book (which I have read plenty of): Heaps of training, struggling to stay at the top of their sport, a tiny bit of teen drama, real dedication to their sport, and a big competition with high stakes.

The Academy: Game On featured a buttload of teen drama, and a teeny bit of training.

The training was very mundane. The actual details and Maya's strengths and weaknesses of the game were glossed over. Does she have trouble with serving? Is everyone else better than her? Is she struggling? Any important competitions coming up? After reading the book, I have no idea. A tennis academy should be about TENNIS, not teen drama. This was an unrealistic portrayal of the professional tennis world. You get good at tennis by training hard, not partying hard. At first, I thought that maybe the tennis details were glossed over because the author did not know much about tennis and had done inadequate research. Then, I discovered that the author is a champion tennis player. Seriously? Monica LaSelles has no excuse for this.

Another problem I had with this book was the name of the school. "The Academy?" Just "The Academy?" The academy of what? The Academy of Awesome Sports? The Andre Agassi Academy? At least give your school a proper name! It feels like the author couldn't be bothered to think up of one.

On arrival, Maya actually points out the Versace and Prada stores IN THE SCHOOL. What kind of idiot school has a PRADA STORE? Exclusive boarding schools are usually very strict. Expensive uniform and lots of rules are the norm. But you know what? Why study or train when you can go shopping? This is so unrealistic. I cannot think of a single reason why a HIGH SCHOOL would have a Versace store in it.

At Maya's first training session, the teacher offers $500 to the person who can hit down the cone first. WTF? What kind of school gives money away to their students like that?

If feels like this book can't seem to decide what it is. It can't decide between being realistic or unrealistic. At first I thought that the book was middle grade because of the immaturity of every single thing the characters say and do. But nope. It's too inappropriate for middle grade, so it's actually a young adult book. It can't decide wether it wants to be about tennis or about a bunch of bitchy rich kids. It confuses readers when the author is so indecisive about what direction they want their book to go in.

The characters were pathetic. Maya is a pathetic excuse for a human being. She lets everyone walk all over her. She pathetically fangirls over Nicole King, even after she treats Maya like dirt. It's common sense not to admire someone who treats you like dirt. Jake was your typical idiot who would have sex with anyone with some kind of hole. Travis was boring. Nicole was a typical shallow bitchy rich character.

The only interesting character was Cleo. She actually had some interesting backstory, she was totally kickass, and she was Chinese! Being Chinese myself, I feel that there isn't enough Asian people in the young adult world. Cleo was great, but unfortunately, Maya ditches her as soon as she can for Nicole.

For Nicole. The bitch who almost got you expelled. The bitch who treated you like dirt.

Maya is an idiot.

None of the characters except Cleo had any depth. They were cardboard cutouts, simply there to drive the story along.

The romance was really, really bad. Upon seeing Travis, Maya melted into a pathetic puddle of crap. After swooning over how hot Travis and Jake are, she starts toying with both of them. Well, when you can't decide between which super-sexy-rich-sporty guy to choose, why not choose them both!

No, Maya.

She spent way too much time mooning over those two people.

Even the plot was bad. It hardly moved at all. There was stagnant teen and boy drama. It does have some movement, but it's certainly not interesting or related to tennis.

I swear, Maya must have an IQ of 5.

I hated this book. It's way too immature for young adult, but way too inappropriate for middle grade. It would work a lot better if the author cut out the inappropriate bits and marketed this book as middle grade. No one above the age of 10 would enjoy this book.

However, that cover is awesome!

Filled with unrealistic themes, crappy characters, shallow romance, sleeping around, rich girl drama, stupidity, and NO tennis, I would not recommend this book to anyone.

An ARC of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.


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