ARC Review : The Game Can’t Love You Back




(2.5 stars) 

 I was super excited to read this book when I first got it. I don’t think I talk about it a lot, but I absolutely adore sport romances. I love Zapata’s books, but I read very few sport romances in the young adult genre. Therefore, I was super hyped about this one!

Sadly, I had some serious issues with this one. 

Our two protagonists, Eve and Jamie, are thrown into the same baseball team due to an accident at Eve’s school (her school closes and all her classmates are relocated at Jamie’s school). They are super competitive because each one of them was a huge star in their respective team and now they kind of have to compete for the spotlight and for a sports award as well.

And while they competed for those things, I was there, rooting for absolutely no one. 

I just couldn’t care for any of the two main characters for most part of the book. Eve was okay, I liked her at first, but I also got major ‘one-of-the-boys’/// ‘not-like-the-other-girls’ feelings from her and I just don’t like those things. It’s totally alright to be a tomboy, but at times it felt like she was acting superior to all the other girls who didn’t do sports and were more interested in make-up. There was also this part (near the end) where she was slut-shaming some girls for flirting with Jamie and other players from the baseball team and it was absolutely annoying. For a person who calls herself a feminist calling some girls skanks merely because she was jealous, yeaaaah, not cool.

Jamie was a textbook bad boy and he did some super problematic things throught the book. Besides using the word ‘pussy’ for a guy he considered a coward (or whatever), which is the worst, there was also this time when he was already in love with Eve and couldn’t defend her and her worth as a baseball player when his teammate was calling her undeserving because she was a girl. WHAT???? And no, it’s not enough that in his monologue he got somewhat annoyed at said teammate. I think the decent thing would have been to call out that guy for being sexist.

Another thing that bothered me so much was how this book seemed to go for the narrative that women should give up on their dreams to be with a man and I felt so much anger over it. I mean, why can’t a man give up on his dreams to be with me? Or why can’t they both make some compromises and go for something that’s equally good for both of them? Why should a woman make those sacrifices? I’m not here for this narrative.

 You might wonder why I’m giving it three stars if I criticized the characters so much. Well, that’s because it was still a light read and at times, it was pretty fun! I’m a sucker for the hate-to-love trope/the enemies-to-lovers, so I enjoyed the angst and the tension between the two of them. But it’s totally not my favourite love-to-hate romance, mostly because at times, I thought Jamie went too far (at the beginning) and didn’t think he would be a good love interest for Eve.

Also, I liked Marcella, Eve’s friend a lot, she was really cool. I wish she was more present in this one.

I would recommend this book to those who like sports romances and the enemies-to-lovers trope. I’m certain that there will be people who will love this one so much more than I did!

I want to thank Macmillan International for sending me this review copy, this hadn’t influenced my review or rating in any way. 


Did you read The Game Can’t Love You Back?  If you did, what did you think of it?

Have you read and enjoyed anything else written by Karole Cozzo?




17 thoughts on “ARC Review : The Game Can’t Love You Back

    • Marta says:

      It’s a Swoon Reads author, she has several books published with them! Ah, maybe check them out nonetheless? Maybe you enjoy them better than I did! 🙂
      Thank you very much, Lily! ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  1. auroralibrialis says:

    I love a good sports romance too! I haven’t read any YA ones yet and I had this one on my radar, but I don’t think I’ll be picking it up. I can’t believe the whole not-like-other-girls-thing is still a thing, it’s always a deal-breaker for me. Really great review, as always 💕

    Liked by 1 person

    • Marta says:

      I haven’t read any YA ones before this one either, I feel like they’re always in the NA genre. Ah, don’t let my review influence you, maybe you’ll like it better than I did! ❤ Same here, but the thing was very subtle, I'm not sure if the author meant to do it, but I got that vibe.
      Thank you very much, Aurora! ❤


  2. Marie says:

    I’m so sorry this book wasn’t for you – I have the say, the narrative where the girl gives up on her dreams and everything to be with a guy, now that’s something that would drive me crazy as well, I think. Compromise is keeeeey and we do need more of that in narratives for sure.
    I’m glad you still found this book somewhat entertaining, so it wasn’t a total waste haha 🙂
    Lovely review! 🙂 x

    Liked by 1 person

    • Marta says:

      I agree so much with you, Marie, it really frustrates me when women have to give up their dreams to be with a guy. And there was also this thing in the book about how a girl has a limited time playing baseball. I didn’t mention it in my review because I don’t know lots of things about baseball, but I don’t understand why???
      Yeah, it was still fun! ❤
      Thank you very much!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. anna says:

    oh im like you, i actually love sport books, especially with a side of romance! and yeah zapata does that so well 😮 i almost feel like it’s unfair to other authors to compare zapata w them bc who can ever measure up…….
    im sorry u didn’t enjoy the book tho :<< frankly i never heard of it before but it's always such a bummer :/

    Liked by 1 person

    • Marta says:

      Ahhh, yes! I suppose it’s very unfair to compare other authors to Zapata since she’s the queen of the genre, but I wasn’t expecting that level of amazing anyway.
      I’m sorry that I didn’t enjoy it as much as I thought I would too 😦

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Kat Impossible says:

    I feel so itchy when people slut shame others. Like, what gives them the right to judge other people’s choices? And I HATE when women have to give up on their dreams. It was one of my favourite things in To Kill a Kingdom that Lira wasn’t the one who had to sacrifice everything for her man’s kingdom and such bullshit. I am not sure this one would be for me either, especially since I don’t think I am much into sport romances anyway, but I am sure there are people out there who would like it a lot. Great review!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Marta says:

      Same here, Kat! ❤ I feel angry whenever women slut shame others, especially when the person claims to be a feminist. YES, To Kill a Kingdom totally smashed that trope to pieces. Thank you very much! ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Olivia-Savannah says:

    I do really love the enemies to lovers trope, but I would really need to feel a connection to at least one of the characters so I don’t think this will particularly be one for me. But I do have to say that I need to read more sport romances! I have read a few but not nearly enough for my liking.


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