The Academy: Game On by Monica Seles and James LaRosa
Publication: June 4, 2013
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA for Children
Target audience: Young adult
Keywords: romance, friendship, tennis, new school
Format read: NetGalley eBook from Publisher (Thanks!)
Summary: From small town girl to up and coming tennis star at a prestigious school, Maya’s new life is nothing like she expected.
Who loves books full of competition, heart throb boys, and boarding school? Yes, yes, and yes please.
Maya’s just been accepted to The Academy to train to become a professional tennis athlete and finish high school. After four attempts to earn a scholarship, she finally feels like her dreams are within her reach. But she’s nervous and determined to prove herself. At least… that’s the attitude she has when she first arrives.
Maya is motivated, especially since she’s on a six-month probation period. Cleo, Maya’s roommate, is quite the opposite of Maya – disorderly, attention-seeking, and blunt – but is also a great source of inspiration for staying focused because she’s also on scholarship. Things are golden as Maya makes friends with Cleo and Renee, the beautiful girl with a naughty reputation, until she meets Travis.
Travis is Nails Reed’s son (the owner of The Academy). He’s a star football player and on his way to following in his father’s footsteps. New-girl Maya somehow catches Travis’ eye and her whole world seems to change and she’s experiencing so many new things – clubs with celebrities, a private flight to Brazil for a dance lesson, and a significant upgrade in her housing. Down-to-earth, work-hard-Maya is suddenly replaced with a girl who forgets to make it to the courts for practice because she’s spent so much time beautifying herself and she abandons her best friends in favor of hanging out with Nicole (the biggest celebrity at The Academy).
And then there’s this awkward situation with Travis’ brother, Jake. Maya finds herself caught in a professional game of tug-of-war with Travis and Jake. Her feelings, however, don’t always make sense. She seems physically attracted to Travis, but unsure of his motives. And the tension is pretty delightful between she and Jake, but there’s really not a whole lot of explanation before – BAM! – Maya is in the thick of a sticky situation.
That really sums up a lot of my feelings toward The Academy: Game On. I assumed a large portion of the story would be about this unknown girl trying to make something of herself, and that just didn’t turn out to be so. Maya’s purpose at The Academy wasn’t clear. There was so little time practicing. There were never any meets, tournaments, or games to prepare for. Ultimately, I felt the focus of the story was lost and I much rather would have read about Maya trying to prove herself than gallivanting around, pretending to be someone she wasn’t. Everything that comes her way falls too easily in her lap.
I never really found myself settling into the rhythm of the story because I wasn’t quite sure who I could trust. The characters were constantly undulating back and forth between admirable and over-the-top dramatic. And the ending? It was left open-ended for the possibility of more to come, meaning that while Maya may have had some minor growth in the last pages of the book, we don’t really get the opportunity to see that come to fruition. Nor do we see where she ends up and what becomes of her time at The Academy.