Monday, November 6, 2023

Today's read... Their Vicious Games by Joelle Wellington

 I had hoped to get to today's read in October, since a thriller would have fit nicely to the spooky season. Although I wasn't able to squeeze it in, I didn't want to miss out on it completely, either. Not only does the cover catch attention, but the blurb isn't easily overlooked. This read is compared to Squid Games meets Ace of Spades with a bit of The Bachelor thrown in. Which could mean that it is an amazing read. So, let's take a peek and find out.

by Joelle Wellington
Simon and Schuster
Young Adult Thriller
416 pages

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.

GOODREADS    /    AMAZON    /    B&N


Tension and high-stakes mix with the world of the insanely wealthy and arrogant in a deadly game, which makes the book hard to put down.

Adina had finally reached her hard-earned goal and gained acceptance into Yale...until her temper ruined everything. Refusing to let one mistake determine the rest of her life, she takes a huge gamble and tries to get herself invited to the Finish. Twelve of the most promising girls known to the Remington family are given the chance to participate in a three round competition. The winner is taken into the powerful and wealthy family as one of their own and given the education and such befitting a family member. It's a legitimate chance, and Adina's only one. Little does she know that the game changes whenever an 'heir' of the Remington family happens to be turning eighteen that year. Adina might have found a way to take part in this elite game, but she has no idea what she's getting herself into...and she might not survive to spread the truth of what the Finish truly means.

This is a very well-woven read, which keeps the tension high from one page to the next. While the first chapter or two set the stage and give the reader an impression of Adina, the rest allows the game to unfold. There is an entire chapter devoted to Adina's 'downfall' as a flashback retelling, which could have been needled in a bit smoother, but that's the only hiccup for most of this read. The stakes are insanely high, the psychological aspect dives into the deeply disturbed, and the truth behind the characters' desires is laid as nicely as a gripping mystery. Once I got lost in this read, there was no coming up for air until the end.

Actually, the blurb already gives away the main plot line—Squid Games meets Ace of Spades. It fits this read perfectly...which also kills some possible surprises, since the stakes are clear from the get-go. Still, it's well written. Even the characters gain depth, which allows their twisted (and not so twisted) logic to shine through in an understandable way. It makes each one easy to like or to hate. Adina also isn't without her shadows and sharp edges, but the author gives her a well-formed character arc. She might not be perfect, but she definitely grows in her own way. If the ending game hadn't me with a slightly-off twist, I would have counted this one to one of my favorites of the year. Even then, it's a very close runner up and definitely worth picking up for anyone who believes they might enjoy the mix. I certainly did.


Natalie Aguirre said...

I love thrillers and hadn't heard of this one. I'm adding to my TBR list since you liked it so much.

Tonja Drecker said...

I hope you enjoy it! While it does fall into the thriller category, it's definitely a Squid Games direction.