Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Vicious by V.E. Schwab

Vicious by V.E. Schwab
Release Date - September 24, 2013
Publisher Website - Tor
Publisher Social Media -  Twitter
Pages -  368 pages
My Rating - 5/5
**obtained for review from publisher via BEA**

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
A masterful, twisted tale of ambition, jealousy, betrayal, and superpowers, set in a near-future world.

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?

In Vicious, V. E. Schwab brings to life a gritty comic-book-style world in vivid prose: a world where gaining superpowers doesn’t automatically lead to heroism, and a time when allegiances are called into question.
Does having super powers automatically make you a hero? Victor Vale, and Eli Cardale set out to become heros. What happens instead is a delicious revenge story filled with some of the most compelling characters I've read this year. No words I can write will properly do this book justice. This book is so much more than I anticipated, and left me breathless.

Flawed is this book's middle name. The characters are so flawed; brilliantly so. There are no heroes or villains in this story. It's all about perspective, and degrees of grey. What makes a villain, what makes a hero? Victoria Schwab forces us to look at our definitions for each of these and re-evaluate them. Victor and Eli are both fundamentally skewed, and they both have sociopathic tendencies. The entire time you're questioning who is the hero, and who is the villain. Does killing those with super powers make you a hero because you might be saving people from them? Does killing a killer immediately make you a hero? Does belief and faith in what you're doing automatically make it righteous? Does a crack (or two) in your cold exterior mean you're not as messed up after all? These questions are brilliantly woven throughout the novel, and there are no easy answers.

This friendship is so far beyond dysfunctional. Victor and Eli are both brilliant, both driven, and calculating. They both are capable of being ruthless, cunning, and single minded. They have a competitive nature to their friendship that leads them to constantly want to one up the other. It's not hard to see how this went from friendship to enemies, even in the early stages. 

The mood is capture effortless by Victoria. It's steeped with darkness, and gore. The scenes detailing their attempts at developing extraordinary abilities are as chilling, as gripping, and dizzying as you expect. I held my breath at points; especially with Eli's attempt. As their obsession with this grows, the reader's apprehension grows along with it. You can see the oncoming carnage, but can do little to warn the characters...even if you wanted to. Part of this novels allure is that unapologeticunflinching descent into this world, blood and all.

Sydney's innocence is ripped from her. Her character is the most innocent of the group, and seeing it taken from her time and time again is crushing. I had a instant soft spot for her, and ached each time her faith in something was proven false. Her age masks a mind that takes in everything around her and understands more than her young years show. I felt protective of her, and nearly sobbed when she's trying to find her 'safe place'.
Serena has her own crimes to answer for, and her own demons. Eli's side-kick is persuasive and lethal. All these side characters are fleshed out. Each characters motivation is made clear, and that's why they're so compelling. As flawed as they are, you understand them. It's all too easy to get inside their heads, and it's terrifying to see that it's not such a stretch.

The narration jumps all over the place. Instead of a linear story, we get it in glimpses. Their time at college is woven along with current time. This may sound confusing, but it adds to the story. It provides a delicious build up to the midnight countdown, and what's to come. The way the story unravels also allows for a much cleaner story, and one that is paced properly. Sleep stops being important because all you want to do is get the next part of the story, regardless of what 'time stamp' you're dealing with.

A gory, dark, and engrossing look at revenge, redemption, and the age old proveb that absolute power can corrupt. This is a world that practically makes me want to beg for a sequel. The characters and their story demand it and readers will be clamoring for more.


  1. I had actually not heard of this book until about 2 days ago, but it didn't really look that interesting to me. I'm so glad I found your review, this book looks amazing!

  2. I've been super excited about this book for a while now. The premise sounded amazing- glad to see it deliver! I also love that the characterization sounds strong. Morally ambiguous, grey characters are totally my thing. Great review!

    -P.E. @ The Sirenic Codex

  3. I really want to read this one. The story sounds really good. Thanks for the great review.


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