‘Dark Hunger Games‘ is the description floating around that made me interested in reading All of Us Villains. While this seems a fairly apt description at first, All of Us Villains quickly becomes so much darker, and so much more than expected.
I didn’t particularly like any of these characters, but they each had their good moments. Let’s just say that the title is very accurate; they are all terrible people, trapped in a terrible cycle, forced to do terrible things. Well, actually, there is one fantastic character, but he’s separated from the others anyway as he is neither one of the chosen nor one who wants to be: Hendry is the fucking best. He’s just his chill, charming self, napping in graveyards and trying to make his brother smile.
At one point or another, I wanted each of the champions to win and for each of them to die horribly. The brainwashing done to them by their families, virtually from birth, to prepare for this tournament is psychopathic. Considering how long this has been going on, though, it’s likely the same was done to them as children, which would mean generations of transferred abuse and brainwashing. It’s easy to be mad at the parents (and grandparents) in All of Us Villains but they likely deserve empathy as well. Once again, everyone in this story is terrible (except Hendry), but a lot is working against them, making them this way. Generations of horrific actions with no end in sight; it’s no wonder the champions are not only prepared but willing to do morally indefensible things in the name of the tournament.
All of Us Villains starts at such an elevated level of violence and intensity, and it’s impressive that it manages to get darker, more violent, and more complex as the story continues. By the end, I was appalled by what was happening but entirely enthralled. This story is gory, depraved, and filled with so much desperation. You don’t have to like any of these people to want them to find a way to a better life than the one they’ve been given. The ending is incredibly abrupt, leaving the story heading in a direction I was not expecting, leaving me frustrated that I can’t just pick up the next book and keep reading. It looks like the next in the series, Glory Spares None, isn’t planned to be released until Fall 2022, and I do not know how I will wait that long. Fingers crossed for another eARC…