Christina’s Review: Vicious by V.E. Schwab

Christina’s Review: Vicious by V.E. SchwabVicious by V. E. Schwab
Published by Macmillan on 2013-09-24
Genres: Contemporary, Fantasy, Fiction, Superheroes
Pages: 364
Format: Paperback
A masterful tale of ambition, jealousy, desire, and superpowers.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.“A dynamic and original twist on what it means to be a hero and a villain. A killer from page one…highly recommended!” —Jonathan Maberry, New York Times bestselling author of Marvel Universe vs The Avengers and Patient Zero One of Publishers Weekly's Best Fantasy Books of 2013

Before I continue, let me first mention Michelle has previously reviewed this book. Check out her review here. Her take on Vicious is different than mine and one I think you will enjoy… be sure to share yours!

I loved where the book started. Vicious first began with two characters in a graveyard about to unbury a person. The identity of this person was yet to be seen. The relationship of these characters was also a mystery to be uncovered as the story unfolded. V.E. Schwab developed a small cast of characters with a lot of mystery behind each of them, particular their past and the events that drew them together. In short (which really does not do them justice, but I do not want to give away much) the characters were:

  • Eli – a curious and arrogant young man
  • Victor – a friend of Eli’s who does not want to fall second
    • Together, they are ambitious, daring, careless college guys out to cheat death
  • Sydney – a young girl who crosses Victor’s path
  • Serena – Sydney’s sister
  • Mitch – a friend of Victor’s… a guy who tends to be in the wrong place at the wrong time

The small cast of characters kept the book and the unfolding plot straight-forward with a set purpose. The chapters were short, making this book a quick read. Schwab bounced back and forth across a period of ten years to show past versus current events. I loved the flash backs or crossing of time comparison she utilized… this added a unique element to the book that kept me entertained. Whenever I started to feel lost or curious on what changed the relationship of characters or made a person who they were, the next chapter tended to be a flashback that added background or an explanation.

The story-line revolved around the existence of “EOs” or Extra Ordinary people: Did EOs exist? If so, who were they? Were they born and EO or did they become one later in life? If they became one, how? Were there different types of EOs?

As the concept of EOs were introduced, I started thinking of X-Men or other Marvel characters/super-heroes. Meeting Eli and Victor and seeing their characters develop, I felt like I was reading about the life of Professor Xavier and Magneto. This made the story-line somewhat unoriginal in my opinion, but still a fun, casual read, and one that will be great for our book club with a promising discussion. A few questions I started asking myself about the book as I reached the end: Was there a hero or a villain, and who do I think was the hero or the villain? How did the characters justify their actions? Was there a right or wrong? What would I do if I was in each of their situations?

One area I did get caught up on early was Eli’s and Victor’s fascination with EOs and the concept of death. It just felt unrealistic to me that a person would behave the way they both did in the first few chapters looking back “10 years ago.” It made the book hard for me to relate to and created an unrealistic world for me to escape to, which is what I usually look for in a book.

Despite this, I felt the read was good overall (above average, hence the 3.5 rating). I also think it was a great book club read since it was thought-provoking. I believe people will have differing interpretations or opinions of the characters, their actions, and the events. I recommend this book as a great for-fun read, or casual read-by-the-pool.

pj - christina

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