All of Us Villains
Author: Amanda Foody, Christine Lynn Herman
Series: All of Us Villains, #1
Length: 12.5 hours
Narrator: Billie Fulford-Brown, Raphael Corkhill
Publisher: Macmillan Audio
Original Publication Date: 2021
Genre(s): Young adult, Fantasy
Every generation, a secret magickal Tournament is held to determine which of the seven most powerful families in Ilvernath will take control of the high magick. Each family puts forth their Champion to compete in the Tournament—but only one will make it out alive. This year, things are different. Ever since someone published a salacious tell-all history of the Tournament and the families who compete in it, Ilvernath has been bombarded with curse-chasers, paparazzi, and gossips. And this year, one of the Champions is convinced they can break the Tournament once and for all and save everyone–now and for generations to come. But will the Champions work together as heroes or kill each other off as villains?
All of Us Villains is told in third person POV from the perspective of four of the champions: Gavin, Alistair, Briony, and Isobel. Almost half the book occurs before the Tournament even begins, allowing each character time to establish their personality, their plans for the Tournament, and their family history. At first, I found it difficult to tell the characters apart—there are so many of them, with the seven Champions and all their family members, the various spell- and curse-makers, and various side characters. It was a lot to try and keep up with for a while.
In addition, the first half of the book moves incredibly slowly. I know the background of each character and the buildup to the Tournament was probably supposed to keep me interested and on-edge, but really I felt a bit bored. I feel like that might have to do with the lackluster worldbuilding. It wasn’t bad, per se, but I felt like it wasn’t enough. Some books you read, you’re immediately immersed and enthralled with the world the author has built for you. But in terms of All of Us Villains, I felt like I didn’t quite understand the world to the fullest. Perhaps it doesn’t matter too much since the focus of the story is on the Tournament, but everything outside of the Tournament felt unexplained or not explained enough. Maybe we’ll get more of this in the second book. Also, I thought the characters constantly referring to themselves as monsters or villains was a bit…campy. I don’t know. I know the book is literally titled All of Us Villains, but it felt kind of silly.
Once the Tournament actually begins, the action and intrigue picks up significantly. The number of characters interacting with each other dies down to seven and the real plot of the book begins. I started to get a feel for the characters’ true intentions and personalities, and I felt nervous and on-edge as the reality of the Tournament began to set in and the characters began attacking one another. I may not be a huge fan of all the characters (looking at you, Gavin, take a chill pill, honey), but I definitely didn’t want them to die. Even though I kind of assumed few or none of the characters would make it out of this series alive. Can I make a recommendation for the sequel? Please stop killing characters? Thanks.
Oh, another request: more romance, please? I know it’s life-or-death and all, but those cave scenes were the highlight of this book. Fight me on it.
Though I had to trudge a bit through the beginning half of the book, the second half flew by. I was interested in everything going on and am really looking forward to the sequel. Though the book wasn’t exactly what I thought it’d be and didn’t quite live up to my too-high expectations, I enjoyed it nonetheless. Very glad the second half of the book stepped it up, or I was leaning towards a 2.5/3-star rating. If you’re on the fence about this one, just try to get through the beginning and you’ll be rewarded with some cool magickal action throughout the rest of the book. Honestly, it’s worth it all just to pine after Alistair…
Props to whoever designed the cover art. And to everyone reading/wanting to read: be prepared for a cliffhanger ending.