I received this book for free from NetGalley to facilitate my review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
This post contains affiliate links you can use to purchase the book. If you buy the book using that link, I will receive a small commission from the sale.Their Vicious Games by Joelle Wellington
Published by Simon and Schuster on 07/25/2023
Genres: Young Adult Fiction / Social Themes / Class Differences, Young Adult Fiction / Social Themes / Prejudice & Racism, Young Adult Fiction / Thrillers & Suspense / General
A Black teen desperate to regain her Ivy League acceptance enters an elite competition only to discover the stakes aren’t just high, they’re deadly, in this searing thriller that’s Ace of Spades meets Squid Game with a sprinkling of The Bachelor.
You must work twice as hard to get half as much.
Adina Walker has known this the entire time she’s been on scholarship at the prestigious Edgewater Academy—a school for the rich (and mostly white) upper class of New England. It’s why she works so hard to be perfect and above reproach, no matter what she must force beneath the surface. Even one slip can cost you everything.
And it does. One fight, one moment of lost control, leaves Adina blacklisted from her top choice Ivy League college and any other. Her only chance to regain the future she’s sacrificed everything for is the Finish, a high-stakes contest sponsored by Edgewater’s founding family in which twelve young, ambitious women with exceptional promise are selected to compete in three mysterious events: the Ride, the Raid, and the Royale. The winner will be granted entry into the fold of the Remington family, whose wealth and power can open any door.
But when she arrives at the Finish, Adina quickly gets the feeling that something isn’t quite right with both the Remingtons and her competition, and soon it becomes clear that this larger-than-life prize can only come at an even greater cost. Because the Finish’s stakes aren’t just make or break…they’re life and death.
Adina knows the deck is stacked against her—it always has been—so maybe the only way to survive their vicious games is for her to change the rules.
Content Warning: Blood, Gore, Violence, Assault, Racism, Classism
Their Vicious Games is nothing short of amazing. Think Squid Games meets The Hunger Games but in this case, the stakes are more than you might think.
I’m going to say this now, Adina and Saint have my heart for the female characters. They’re strong, resilient, and while they may take crap at the beginning of The Finish, the certainly won’t take it forever. As far as the male characters go, the only one we see a lot of in the story that I actually like is Graham. He may be misguided and blinded by his love for Pierce, but he also appears to truly care about Adina at the very least. The rest of the characters honestly made me want to reach through the pages and slap them a few times. And can someone please tell me how you’re supposed to pronounce Penthesilea’s name?
This story had a very interesting plot going. You were never quite sure what would happen next – what was each portion of The Finish going to be? What would happen during it? Who would die? Because let’s face it, if you’ve read the synopsis, you know someone is likely going to die. But the plot is executed in a manner that just blew me away. Part of that plot involves racism and classism, so be aware of that.
The writing style is awesome. Fast paced, easy to read, not too dry and not too flowery. This was exactly what a thriller version of The Hunger Games/Squid Games should be. I wouldn’t change a thing about Joelle Wellington’s writing style.
Now let’s discuss the ending. It was brilliant. I never would have seen it coming and but it is completely understandable. But who all lives and who all dies? Well, I’m not going to tell you that. But you’ll be surprised at who lives… because some of them you wouldn’t expect to make it.
If you’re looking for a YA Mystery/Thriller that borders on horror1Personally, I would classify this as horror., I highly suggest Their Vicious Games. This was a thrilling 5 star read and one that I hope to reread.
As a note – I’d love a “prequel” to this – perhaps the story behind it actually being started by the Remington ancestor who founded The Finish? I mean, I’d love to know if The Finish we read about in Their Vicious Games was The Finish the founder intended.