“Why can’t I get the chance to be the hero once in a while?”
My fourth book review of the year brings me to another book that would, once upon a time, be way out of my comfort zone when it comes to genres! The last few weeks have been spent reading through Game Keepers by self published author, Steve Dressing. I immediately took note of the words “self published” and thought for a moment. You go all out writing a pretty long novel, and then you go and take all the necessary steps to self publish. I take my hat off to you, Sir!
Self publishing is something that’s intrigued me for years, so it will be interesting to follow Steve’s journey to novel success and to look into this further when I do eventually finish my own story!
Game Keepers is all about a tight knit group of friends who live and breathe everything baseball. Think about the group of kids in Stranger Things or Stephen King’s IT. This is the vibe I get from how Steve describes his characters! As I read through, I could tell the group were about to share a pretty good adventure together, and I certainly wasn’t disappointed.
I absolutely love the way Steve begins his novel. He’s done an amazing job of building up the suspense immediately when describing the nail biting baseball game, and he has created an extremely clear picture of the setting throughout Chapter One. The group of friends travel to a rather extraordinary place; a place where each one sees something slightly different depending on their personal preferences. This reminded me of the Mirror of Erised in Harry Potter a lot – such a great idea with so much potential! The magical edge to the book works well, even though it’s something you wouldn’t necessarily expect to happen at the beginning of the story.
The novel makes you think about your younger years and how much you longed for days of fun like our group here has. You’d be outdoors all day and you became so gutted and disheartened when it was time to call it a night. Reading the first few chapters really brought these memories back to life for me, and it’s so good to think back to fond memories like these after reading an extract. (Thanks for the smiles, Steve!)
Another thing I also picked up on by the end of chapter 3 was a very clear message. The way Steve has described certain events and discussions between characters instantly teaches the importance of not giving up. The children in Game Keepers are so full of life and energy, and continue to build up their skills whilst having fun in the process. The way they increase their baseball knowledge through the help of a little place called ‘Down Home’ is such a magical concept; one that works brilliantly in this novel and something that I’m confident will spark the imaginations of young readers.
The story also brings up the relationship between two siblings and how things can change over time. At the beginning of the story, Allie and George don’t seem to be the best of friends where siblings are concerned, but soon become a lot more friendly when discovering the new magical world, something interesting that both of them share. This is very true to similar situations in the real life world. When someone is extremely quiet, withdrawn or not very approachable for example, it can be hard to get a reaction. However, when a certain topic is raised that interests them, they’ll perk up and, in some cases, you’ll not be able to shut them up! In George and Allie’s case, they bond because of their passionate for ‘Down Home’ and the memories that each of them share.
Now, a chapter that sticks with me in particular is number 12. Here, the suspense builds as the children are very close to revealing what ‘Down Home’ actually is to their coaches. If the coaches are able to get into their world, they could risk losing it all! The description here is great, and you find yourself hoping that the coaches struggle in one way or another. The chapter is also a shocker in some ways, as one of the friends has an unfortunate turn of events. Building these different scenes in one chapter works really well.
The ending of the story brings everything together, but it also leaves you pondering a few things. (If that’s possible!) It ends up being particularly heartwarming, even after all the trouble they have endured in parts. The author has provided a great reader experience by balancing a ton of different emotions, which forces you to become attached to the characters. Steve has also said that he wants to continue writing a series about Game Keepers. Personally, I think this is a great idea. With the ending of this particular novel, I’m interested to see where the next one will lead. I’m also guessing there will be a continuous stream of The Beatles references! (Am I right?!)
I suppose the only downside I found to Game Keepers was the fact that if you’re not a fan of baseball, it can be difficult to understand some of the terminology used when describing the games. However, I did feel like I could work out what these terms meant, but if I was a younger reader, I think I’d struggle without looking these up. Perhaps this is due baseball being a lot bigger in America than the UK, but honestly, it’s not a huge issue. You can still understand the story line and enjoy the big adventure without being a pro at the sport!
A huge thank you to Number 6 Publishing and to Steve for sharing Game Keepers with me. You’ve intrigued me with your novel and provided younger readers with a text that they can relate to and learn from, as well as something to inspire them to just enjoy being kids! I wish you every success with the series in the future 🙂