VOYA - Steven Kral
Things are finally going well for Ty. Although his parents have died, and his aunt and uncle are in the witness protection program, Ty's brother, Thane, a rookie wide receiver for the New York Jets, has agreed to take him in. A gifted wide receiver himself, Ty and his team seems poised to win the 7-on-7 tournament held at the Super Bowl in Miami. Troy White, a star quarterback who can predict a play before it happens, is also a gifted football player, and his team also seems a likely winner in the tournament. Natural rivals, Ty and Troy are forced to depend on each other when a mafia plan imprisons them together in the Everglades. While at times the novel is a touch melodramatic and pedantic, it is fast moving and suspenseful. Green is a former defensive end for the Atlanta Falcons, and this is readily apparent in the on-field action, which is extremely vivid and well written. The novel is the fifth book in the Football Genius series, but it is self-contained enough that readers new to the series will not be lost. All in all, this is an effective thriller for middle and junior high school readers. Reviewer: Steven Kral
Children's Literature - Barbara L. Talcroft
Football-lovers wowed by Green's earlier books in the "Football Genius" series will probably be delighted to greet this new adventure starring Ty Lewis and his big brother Thane, wide receiver for the Jets. Green also brings back Troy White, the whiz with an uncanny knack for predicting plays before they're made, and kicker Tate McGreer as a romantic interest for Ty. This time, both boys will participate in a Super Bowl 7-on-7 championship for middle school players, allowing their teams to challenge each other on the field. After a great deal of exposition to bring new readers up to speed, Green fabricates a complex plot involving dire injuries, Mafia bad guys, FBI agents, and assorted players and coaches, some of whom (like Mark Bavaro, former tight end for the Giants) are real people. In search of excitement, Green introduces a bizarre trip into the Everglades and a narrow escape from death for the two boys and Tate. The best part of this story, for football fans, will be detailed descriptions of games, mostly of nail-biting endings where winning hangs on a surprise play. While Ty and his injured brother are sympathetic characters, supporting players are caricatures (sometimes grotesque) and the plot is scarcely credible. Green's writing style, displayed in very short chapters, is casual to the point of awkwardness. Still, the strength of this series lies in the appeal of an insider's view of the football business to tweens and teens who don't like to read. (Green is a former star of the Atlanta Falcons.) Parents or teachers might object to some of Green's philosophies, such as encouraging a young athlete (Ty) to play with an injury, or his aesthetic that a five-car garage and a living room resembling a hotel lobby make for a beautiful house. Reviewer: Barbara L. Talcroft
NFL insider Green brings together his two heroes—Ty (Football Hero, 2008) and Troy (Football Champ, 2009)—in this gridiron mystery focused on teen football phenoms.
The action takes place during a seven-on-seven tournament for middle-school athletes held during Super Bowl week. As often happens in Green's tales, there are bad guys from the mob attempting to gain an illicit edge. Both Ty and Troy are targets of the D'Amico family, which requires that FBI agents play a role in guarding Ty while his brother, professional receiver Thane, recovers from a devastating knee injury. Ty is the featured character for the most part, but both Troy and Tate, a female friend, have a role to play. The football insights are the best part, as both professional games and seven-on-seven play are described in satisfying detail. All the other shenanigans are icing, and fairly non-essential icing at that. None of the fabulous lifestyle of limos, fancy hotels and big houses is hard to believe, but it distances readers from the characters, as do the overblown plot and inept cartoon mobsters.While mention is made of middle-school life, emphasis is on the game, and using real NFL famous names add spice. Acquaintance with the earlier titles is helpful, but Green recaps well enough that it's not necessary.
Football fanatic fare.(Sports fiction. 10-14)