All of Us Villains by Amanda Foody; Christine Lynn Herman

Do you get nervous when the hype train starts to take off and you’re not on it? Or do you just wave goodbye? 👋

All of Us Villains has been described as “a blockbuster,” and “a modern fairytale…” It’s been compared to all sorts of YA bestsellers including The Hunger Games. Is this the novel that will flip the script and give the villains a chance to rule?

Premise: A long-held curse has given one of seven families control of all the High Magic in the world. Every generation the families choose a representative to battle it out for the rights to control this most-powerful magic. But, this year will be different because the secret is out. One member of one of the families has written a tell-all book about the tournament and now the city of Ilvernath is crowded with tourists, protesters, and reporters trying to get the latest dirt on the families.

The story is told from the point of view of four of the teen champions… These young people have spent most their short lifetimes training to become their family’s victor. From the most powerful Lowe family who have won the vast majority of the tournaments to the lowly Grieves who have never won, they perfect their magical prowesses. Learning spells, manipulating their powers and, maybe gossiping about their rivals. Until the blood moon appears… and then some will be chosen willfully and some regretfully.

On to the tournament… tentative alliances, defending camps, and striking out when the opportunity arises. Who will die and who will survive?

Let’s talk now about the hype train… There are aspects of this novel that warrant the love and some things that fall into the “eh” category, ha!

The characters and their families were so well drawn. Each POV had its own set of insecurities, strengths, and family lore. I always felt ready to move between the characters as one chapter ended with a cliffhanger the next would give the reader the answer they’ve been waiting for… The motivations of these characters should be pretty clear: Just Survive! But no, there’s other factors that include romance, familial responsibility, and magical prowess.

The worldbuilding lacked in places though. Sure, the tournament rules are set down and the magic system was easy enough to understand, but time and a good overall picture of this world are not as precise enough as I would have liked. For example, there are a couple lines about the magic/ curses outside of Ilvernath, but it could have used more explanation. But I do have to say that the plot moves forward with some really good tension after a bit of a set up.

Strong characters and a creative storytelling helps mask some issues in this novel.

3.5 out of 5.

Thank you to NetGalley, Tor Teen, and the authors for an advanced copy for review.

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