Review by Linnea ‘LiteralGrill’ Capps
Kyell Gold has once again written an update to a certain tiger and fox’s football adventures adventures in the Forester Universe: Titles. Dev and Lee’s adventures first began their adventures in Out of Position back in 2009 with eight books released before Titles covering their adventures, the life of Dev’s teammate Ty, and a collection of short stories covering many characters through the entire series.
A quick warning before we continue: this book does contain mature content. I will also be avoiding any major spoilers, but there may be hints at what happens in the book in this review. If you want to miss any of that, skip to the last paragraph where I’ll talk about recommendations for the book. With that in mind, let’s get back to the book itself!
This most recent outing takes place a solid chunk of time after Over Time, the first few chapters setting up for a story that takes place closer to the time we’re in now as we read it. As Dev weighs retirement while chasing a championship ring, Lee juggles a new job offer with getting comfortable in a new family dynamic when his father remarries giving him two new stepbrothers. Or as he learns, as a stepbrother and stepsibling. Lee learns that one of them is genderfluid and helps them along their adventures in trying to discover themselves. Seeing a genderfluid character featured so prominently to me was one of the highlights of the novel: I love stories with diverse characters!
The book also explores the current political climate we face today through the lens of a new group in the Forester Universe: The Nativists. It’s interesting to see how anti-immigrant sentiments would play out in an anthropomorphic culture and how it relates to what we face today. Dev and Lee both are able to have different perspectives on the problems Nativists cause through their differing lines of work, though both poke plenty of holes into their horrible ideas on what society should be. I have to give a lot of credit to Kyell on how he tackled this subject matter; it was approached well and tactfully covered.
Despite the positives, this book isn’t without its flaws. This is one of the shorter books in the series, and you can feel why when reading through the pages. It lacks some of the magnitude of difficult hurdles the couple has faced in previous novels, the happy ending so obvious from the beginning that it leaves little surprise when it happens at the end. Without giving spoilers, the ‘flirty gay bobcat’ teased on the book’s back cover ended up feeling like such a disappointing storyline to me as well in terms of Dev’s growth through the series, feeling out of character after the events in previous novels. With all these criticisms in mind, I sat down to read this book at 9:30 at night, expecting to read a few chapters before bed. Suddenly 3:33 AM and I had finished the final chapter, amazed at how much time had passed. This book may have weak points, but it’s still a wonderful read. It does feel like the story leaves room for one last book at the end, but if it never comes to be, Titles would be a wonderful cap at the end of a well loved series of novels. I absolutely recommend it to anyone that enjoys Kyell Gold’s works and has loved Dev and Lee’s stories thus far.