All of Us Villains by Amanda Foody and Christine Lynn Herman is the first book in a new YA fantasy series that will be published on November 9th. It’s being marketed as The Hunger Games with magic which is pretty accurate. I enjoyed my time but don’t plan to continue the series, I gave this one 3 stars.
After the publication of a salacious tell-all book, the remote city of Ilvernath is thrust into worldwide spotlight. Tourists, protesters, and reporters flock to its spellshops and ruins to witness an ancient curse unfold: every generation, seven families name a champion among them to compete in a tournament to the death. The winner awards their family exclusive control over the city’s high magick supply, the most powerful resource in the world.
In the past, the villainous Lowes have won nearly every tournament, and their champion is prepared to continue his family’s reign. But this year, thanks to the influence of their newfound notoriety, each of the champions has a means to win. Or better yet–a chance to rewrite their story.
But this is a story that must be penned in blood.
I was really excited about this one (did you read that description, it sounds amazing!) and it just didn’t hit the mark for me. The beginning was slow, then the middle hooked me and I was pretty into it, but then the end went in a direction that I really didn’t like. I enjoyed my time overall but I don’t plan to read the next one, so I gave it 3 stars.
The writing and the atmosphere are really the strength of this book. It definitely had that dark, creepy feeling and was a good fit for the week leading up to Halloween. The writing was also incredibly thoughtful. I was confused at the beginning with some characters being referred to by first names and other by their last and then I realized that it’s actually that under one of the points of view, all of the champions are referred to by their last name because he was raised to know his competition by the traits of their family, not as people. This intricacy of the writing and so many other little gems were just so thoughtful, it was a pleasure to read.
The magic system played into the spooky atmosphere and was certainly unique. I did get a little frustrated with the magic system as it never felt fully explained and I have so many questions about it. Even something basic like whether everyone in the world can do magic or is it some subset never seemed clear and I went back and forth.
I really hope the final physical copies of this book have some maps and charts and stuff. I really would have liked a map of the playing field, list of landmarks, etc. I didn’t decrease my rating based on this but if I had a final physical copy and this was included, it may have increased my score as some of this wasn’t super well explained and I found myself a little confused.
My biggest issue with this book is the number of points of view, 4 was just too many for the first book in a series that’s 400 pages long. From what I could tell, each of the four got equal time so that’s only 100 pages per character. This left all of the characters feeling not quite developed and with such big gaps between being back in a character’s head, it felt choppy. Characters had big changes in motivation or feelings and it was only seen through the eyes of another character and by the time you got back to them, you missed the whole thing. The POVs was also part of the reason the beginning of the book was so slow, we had to separately meet each character and find out how they became a champion.
Alistair was definitely my favorite character and I think I would have had a much better reading experience if the entire story was told from his point of view or maybe him and one other. Four was just too many and unnecessary to tell this story. Although each character did feel a little underdeveloped, I did think they were solid characters and I liked the differences in them and that they didn’t really remind me of any other characters.
All of this aside, I was really into this book at about 300 pages in. I was expecting a climactic ending and that I’d want the next one right away. I didn’t get this. Instead, I got a really bizarre twist where suddenly multiple characters did things out of character or totally undid the growth from the rest of the story and went back to square one. It left me confused and disappointed. I was so invested in Alistair and just hate what the authors did to his character at the end, it totally undid the middle of the book.
So I won’t be picking up the next one and ended up at 3 stars. I’d definitely consider picking up another book by either of these authors though as the writing and overall idea were really good.
*I received a free ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.*