All of Our Demise
Author: Amanda Foody & C. L. Herman
Series: All of Us Villains #2
Genre: YA, Fantasy
Published: August 30th, 2022 (Tor Teen )
For the first time in this ancient, bloodstained story, the tournament is breaking. The boundaries between the city of Ilvernath and the arena have fallen. Reporters swarm the historic battlegrounds. A dead boy now lives again. And a new champion has entered the fray, one who seeks to break the curse for good… no matter how many lives are sacrificed in the process.
As the curse teeters closer and closer to collapse, the surviving champions each face a choice: dismantle the tournament piece by piece, or fight to the death as this story was always intended.
Long-held alliances will be severed. Hearts will break. Lives will end. Because a tale as wicked as this one was never destined for happily ever after.
The veil separating the tournament grounds from the city of Ilvernath has fallen, and the press is all too eager to get a good story. Hendry Lowe is alive – sort of – and no one quite knows what to make of the dead boy returning to life. One relic has been destroyed and as Briony continues in her quest to end the tournament curse forever, the lines of war have been drawn between the champions – though the alliances remain as shaky as ever. Alastair and Gavin, each for their own reasons, remain convinced that the only way out of this is to end the tournament the proper way, by winning. Both struggling with deadly curses on their magic, they agree to team up in order to find a cure. Briony, Finley and Isobel turn their attention to destroying the next Relics, but are faced with a major obstacle when one of the Relics is rendered useless. The pressure and attention from the outside world weighs heavily on them all, and for the first time in tournament history, the curse – and rules – are changing, as a new champion is bound by the curse. It is time for each of the surviving champions to decide where they stand once and for all, and what they are willing to sacrifice to reach their goal.
“Heroes are just villains with worse survival instincts and moral superiority complexes.”
💭 Initial Thoughts: This is one of the few stories from the past couple of years that has remained clear in my memory and I hardly needed to think to think to recall the events leading up to this sequel – and finale. I was supposed to have read this back in December, but I kept putting it off, not wanting to start it while travelling because I knew once I picked this up, I needed a good four or five hours to binge read – and that’s exactly what happened.
🌎 Plot, World building & Atmosphere: As I mentioned, I didn’t really need a recap for this one, but I was glad to see it all the same. With the barrier separating the tournament grounds from the public gone, Ilvernath basically descended into chaos and several new players seized the opportunity to gain an advantage for themselves from the press to the government to even a mysterious killer stalking the streets. There wasn’t much added for world building, since the setting remained the same, but this installment did delve a little more into the magic system and the nature of life magic in particular.
Mild spoiler ahead! I think it’s ridiculous that the characters could just create a fake Relic by mimicking the spells on the original and fool the tournament’s magic that way. It felt like way too convenient of a method to overcome what should have been a major roadblock. Also, it’s one thing recreating a relic when they have the magic of the original, but it seemed silly to me that they were able to do so for a relic that hadn’t even made its appearance in the tournament yet. All right, my rant is done and spoilers end here.
There was just so much going on in this book, and in terms of action and atmosphere, it gave no cause for complaint. There wasn’t a dull moment to be found, and as the stakes rose higher and the pressure on the champions grew, I could literally feel the mood change as I read, it was conveyed that well. And that’s not even getting into the plot twists which showed up frequently and out of the blue, increasing the tense mood even more. Basically, my experience reading this book was either doing so through my fingers, screaming at my kindle or bemoaning the various poor choices the characters were making – so all in all, I was very invested in this story.
✍🏻 Writing & Narration: The authors have written an incredible story, a thoroughly gripping read that I didn’t even try to put down, and they really know how to hold the reader’s attention.
“In a different story, would we still have been enemies?”
“Does it matter?”
👥 Characters: The plot was excellent and there’s no denying that, but the best part of this series has always been its characters, and I was glad to see that continue with this book. The character arcs for Alastair and Gavin in particular, and Briony and Isobel to a lesser extent were simply phenomenal.
My favourites right from the beginning have been Alastair and Gavin. They are both playing to win, Gavin to prove himself, and Alastair to save his brother. Their character development was amazing and went so much more in depth than I expected. Alastair is a true antihero – everyone thinks of him as a villain and a monster, and with his upbringing as a Lowe, he certainly makes a good one. Except he isn’t and doesn’t really want to be a monster, he just wants to protect his loved ones and is shown to be quite fiercely loyal. The one thing I kept repeating in my mind throughout this book was ‘please don’t kill Alastair’ because that would have been enough to make me stop reading. Gavin has been quite intriguing right from the beginning, the clear underdog of the tournament who turned out to be more dangerous and driven than anyone ever expected and his arc in this book was just as good.
Briony, frankly, has irritated me right from the beginning with that superior saviour hero complex she had going on, and that was the case for much of this book too. So how things ended up for her didn’t have the emotional impact that the narrative was probably going for because I was never invested in the character in the first place. I never liked Isobel much either, mostly for her backstabbing tendencies, but she was slightly more bearable this time around. Reid was a good addition and quite a complex character, but I didn’t enjoy his arc, mostly because he was one of the main reasons this whole mess got started and he didn’t care that the champions would just get swept up in it. Even after he started helping, he wasn’t a sympathetic character in my eyes at all, because he only did so because he would also be affected if things went wrong.
A romance arc was really the last thing I expected to see in this book, but we ended up getting not one, but two enemies-to-lovers plot lines that fit surprisingly well into the chaos. I was way more interested to see one pan out than the other, but they were both well written and didn’t feel out of place despite the late introduction.
🎬 Ending: Was I happy with the ending? Not entirely. But it didn’t turn out to be what I was dreading either and it wrapped up things in a sensible manner. So my 4.5 star rating is partly because I really enjoyed this book, but honestly, more so because this finale was able to get me so invested in the story, and that hasn’t happened in quite some time.
❓ Final Thoughts & Recommendation: I’m not a fan of series being dragged out longer than needed, but I truly would have loved for this to be a trilogy. So much happened in this book, but there were also so many potential paths that could have been explored – and it would have been a way to stay with these characters for one more installment. Nonetheless, if you enjoyed the first book, you definitely have to pick up this sequel, and if you’re new to the series, I can’t recommend it enough! This is definitely a series I will re-read someday and I’m really looking forward to this author’s next book, whatever it may be!
Have you read this book? Let me know in the comments below!
Other reviews in this series:
I’m finally in a really good reading kick and am always on the lookout for new things to try out. I’m not sure this is something I would typically get into but it seems to be a decent sequel. Thanks for the review!
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Thanks for reading and commenting! Yes, this was a pretty good sequel which was quite a relief since most sequels I’ve been reading recently have been a bit lacklustre.
Excellent review Raji! I’m not sure I will pick up this series as it is not a genre I would usually read but you definitely have me intrigued. Thanks for sharing.
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Thanks for reading and commenting Jodie!
Haha, I know how it feels when wanting a good long time to read or watch something. This is a lovely book and you did well reviewing it.
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Thank you! It was honestly just such a relief to be able to sit down with this book after spending so many months avoiding all reviews and spoilers!
Your thoughts on how the backstory remained clear in your head years later is a great indication of a quality story. Loved the layout of this post. Thanks for sharing 🙂
Thanks for reading!