Reviewed by: Michael Thal
Genre: Young Adult/Science Fiction
Approximate word count: 75-80,000 words
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Jennifer Goebel is the mother of two boys, Ben and Matthew. Born in the Philippines, Jennifer moved around a lot as a child, so her trusted friends became her books. As a parent, her sons have led her into the world of sports. These two worlds collide brilliantly in Tournament.
Dagmar Jacisinova is also a mom. She moved to the United States during her mid-twenties learning English by watching soap operas and talking to the two-year-olds she babysat. Wanting her soccer fanatic sons to read more, she listened to their game chatter learning the sport and developing an interesting plot that evolved into a fun novel teenage boys will love to read.
In 2014 tensions on the Korean Peninsula got out of hand resulting into World War III. Thirty years later, Global Government has evolved putting in place strategies to prevent another nuclear conflagration. Every two years, the government’s control reverts to the nation who wins the Tournament—a series of soccer games set up similar to the World Cup competition today.
On February 1, 2044 Alaska, one of the few surviving pockets of humanity not destroyed by war or nuclear radiation, is busy picking its soccer team for the Games to be held that summer in Fairbanks.
Jean and Nate are identical twins. Jason is the nation’s leading goalie, but Nate doesn’t stand a chance to make the team due to his bum knee. Cassie, the only girl chosen for the national team, can control a soccer ball like no one else. Reed, the son of a wealthy political bigwig and advisor to the Alaskan President, is the nation’s top scorer. He’s a gifted soccer player, spoiled, and has an overinflated ego.
In a writing style that grabs and holds onto its audience, the writing team of Goebel and Jacisinova submerges their readers into a post world war era of political intrigue, dirty tricks, and soccer politics where the outcome of a soccer tournament affects world governance.
The novel revolves around the lives of Reed, Cassie, Jason and Nate. The twins are split early in the novel when Jason becomes the captain of the Alaska team and Nate has been assigned to hone his skills to fight a rogue state, an illegal activity according to the world government.
Throughout the novel tensions escalate—the rocky relationship between Cassie and Reed, a young love between Cassie and Jason’s best friend, pranks on and off the soccer field, and a lot more—until the final surprise ending that will make readers gasp.
This reader noticed many typo issues that could have been resolved by a competent editor. The book, however, holds readers’ attention from beginning to end, but the editorial glitches are a source of annoyance.
Rating: **** Four stars