Book Reviews

Review: Vicious By V.E. Schwab

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Published: September 24th 2013 by Tor


Series: Vicious #1


Source: Local Library


Genre: Adult, Sci-fi, Paranormal


Synopsis: Victor and Eli started out as college roommates—brilliant, arrogant, lonely boys who recognized the same sharpness and ambition in each other. In their senior year, a shared research interest in adrenaline, near-death experiences, and seemingly supernatural events reveals an intriguing possibility: that under the right conditions, someone could develop extraordinary abilities. But when their thesis moves from the academic to the experimental, things go horribly wrong. Ten years later, Victor breaks out of prison, determined to catch up to his old friend (now foe), aided by a young girl whose reserved nature obscures a stunning ability. Meanwhile, Eli is on a mission to eradicate every other super-powered person that he can find—aside from his sidekick, an enigmatic woman with an unbreakable will. Armed with terrible power on both sides, driven by the memory of betrayal and loss, the archnemeses have set a course for revenge—but who will be left alive at the end?

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Spoiler Free Review:

Being the only V.E. Schwab book I haven’t read, I picked up Vicious, her most highly acclaimed novel. I came out in awe of how Schwab manages to come up with such a twisted tales. From the dark narrative to the crookedly fascinating characters, she truly delivered a twisted masterpiece. 


The book is told switching between past and present from different points of view. The format really worked for the story. Each flashback was connected to the plot and the development of each character. You could see how both Victor and Eli changed throughout the years. It was interesting form of storytelling and it was one of strongest aspects about the story. 


At first, the plot seems like a classic revenge tale. There’s two lonely dudes who both perform crazy experiments and end up with superpowers. Ten years later, they are enemies and plan to kill one other. In a way, it is a classic revenge story along with so many other twists and turns. It was hard to keep up with all of the craziness. I would predict for one thing to occur and it went completely the other way. Basically, it was one of the most unpredictable stories I have ever read. Schwab can be a master when it comes to insane plot lines. 


Even with the great writing and plot, the best part would have to be the characters. Both Victor and Eli are insane. At the beginning of the book, I decided that one was better than the other. I find it kind of funny that both started off as pre-med students and ended becoming outlaws, considering I plan on majoring in pre-med.  In the end, they really are both crazy. The lengths they go to just for the sake of revenge is absolutely ridiculous, but that’s what keeps the story interesting. 


Victor is more reserved than Eli but just as obsessive and can be very envious. Eli is better at putting on an innocent mask and he is a master manipulator. I’m going to be honest, I truly didn’t like any of the two main characters. Though I don’t think that was V.E. Schwab’s intention. Even if I didn’t like any of them, I still became attached to their stories and how things would end. In the end, there’s no hero or villain. There’s just the in between.


I really enjoyed the side characters as well. I loved Sydney and felt really bad for the kid. She didn’t deserve to get mixed up in the craziness. Serena was terrifying, reminded me of Princess Azula from Avatar: The Last Airbender. Though unlike Azula, I could not justify any of her actions and hated her character. Part of that has to do with how she treated her younger sister, since I am the younger sister in this case. I have an older sister around Serena’s age and it really bugged me on how she manipulated her sister. My favorite character was without a doubt, Mitch. Schwab really defied the trope with his character. The big guy with muscles and tattoos turned out to be a clever hacker. His backstory was absolutely terrible and I’m hoping he gets a happy ending. 


Overall, this was an absolutely fascinating story to read. Even after reading this book, I still think about the characters and the themes it brought up. How there can be heroes and villains and then there are ones that are in between and can be good at playing both. The ending really caught me by surprise and I cannot wait for a sequel. “Plenty of humans were monstrous, and plenty of monsters knew how to play at being human.”

Rating: 4.5/5

 

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