While this isn't unreadable, it is pretty poorly conceived. The sports-world works in a way completely out of step with how it does in reality (players carrying weapons on the field, doing drugs & no one trying to stop them--antidoping, anyone? drug tests consist of forcing the kids to disrobe so a doctor can check their arms for track marks, cause apparently arms are the only place IV drugs can be inserted. not blood tests.--coach completely disengaged from the team's training & not even attempting to have them work together, etc, etc, etc.) as does pretty much everything else. Antipsychotics do not work at all like this, folks.
And for some reason the sports-obsessed main character knows 100% more about the team members' personal lives and troubled pasts than he does about how the team actually functions. I don't think he's ever even watched one of their games--he comes across less sports fanatic, more fanboy. Except only one of the players is a star big enough to even have a fan following, so again???
But characterization was the real problem for me. A team supposedly created by a coach to give kids from troubled families/backgrounds a chance at creating new lives for themselves is allowed (sometimes encouraged) by the same coach to to the following:
-Pressure a kid from an abusive background to join them with verbal abuse & threats of violence.
-Continue to threaten & commit acts of violence on other teammates, drug them, verbally abuse them, etc. This behaviour is supposedly "discouraged," but there is a clearly well-known history of it, the perpetrators are never punished (or, you know, kicked off the team?)
Plus, everyone but the MCs' stock response to being 'troubled' is to be a violent, amoral sociopath in this, and that's supposed to be 'deep.' Or maybe 'edgy.' Hard to tell, because it really isn't either.
I don't know, I can't help but thinking the only way this story would make any sense at all is if it was transplanted to a sci-fi prison planet with absentee prison guards.
(review of free book)