Their Vicious Games

Joelle Wellington

Their Vicious Games
Penguin Random House Children's UK
United Kingdom
8 August 2023

Their Vicious Games

Joelle Wellington

Twelve girls. Three rounds. One ultimate prize . . . for the last one left alive.

Edgewater Academy is a school for the very rich and very powerful.

Adina Walker is neither of those things. Alone and outcast, when she gets into a fight with a fellow student (and former friend), her scholarship to a top college is revoked, and her world falls apart.

Until she's invited to The Finish.

Annual games for the brightest and the best, hosted by power-family The Remingtons, the winning prize for The Finish is everything Adina wants. This is her chance at the life she's dreamed of.

Then the contestants start to die.

Love, revenge, pride - all are on the line. This isn't a game any more . . .

Horrific and engrossing in equal measure, Their Vicious Games is also a thoughtful and clever commentary on race and class. Ace of Spades meets The Inheritance Games, this is a game you'll want to see through to the finish.


Edgewater is a high school occupied exclusively by the rich and powerful. When Adina Walker, a Black middle-class daughter to two Edgewater professors, works her entire life to get a Yale acceptance, it upsets one of her classmates, spurring a fight that loses Adina all her college acceptances. Left without a backup plan, Adina appeals to the Remingtons, an overly influential family who, for generations, have hosted a yearly competition called ‘The Finish’. Several girls are invited to play, and the winner is afforded every advantage the family can procure for college and life beyond. That is until The Finish falls on the year a Remington son turns 18 – then the competition becomes deadly.

Joelle Wellington successfully carves an atmosphere that depicts the viciousness of success in a world built by the elite, and how class and race trickle down from adults and institutions to teenagers’ relationships. The plot is slow to pick up, but once it does, and girls start dropping like flies, it becomes intense and challenging to put down.

The marketing is somewhat wide of the mark; Their Vicious Games is hardly The Bachelor. There are pulses of romance, but at the book’s core is Adina Walker’s reckoning with her future and how being ‘good’ directly contrasts with her desire to survive. Danger lurks around every corner at the Remington estate, and Adina is quickly forced to make allies and learn to act the part of the Remingtons’ pawn to protect herself and her family. The rich and powerful are alluring, but their violent games demand a more violent victor.

While violent, Wellington evades indulging in gory imagery. There are mentions of adult themes alongside brief descriptions of violence, making it recommended for readers 13+.

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