Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Book Review - Vicious by V.E. Schwab

Title: Vicious
Author: V.E. Schwab
Series: N/A
Pages: 340 pages (UK Paperback edition)
Publisher: Tor books (Titan Books, UK)
Dates read: March 12th to March 16th, 2015

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.
Rating: 4.7/5 stars

Any book that takes the classic 'hero vs villain' trope and spins it on its head is a good book for me. And that's exactly what Vicious does. That's one of the many reasons I love this book.

Vicious is the story of Eli and Victor, two college roommates, who come up with a theory that could potentially create "EOs" or, "ExtraOrdinary beings". Obviously, they test out the theory and they both develop EO powers. Then, ten years later, once Victor escapes from prison, Victor makes it his mission to find and destroy Eli. Why? Because Eli's been killing EOs because he believes that they are unnatural.

Like I said, what makes Vicious so interesting is the way the 'hero vs villain' trope is presented. To the media and the outside world, Eli is a hero because he is killing these EOs to keep people safe (even if it's more for Eli's self-righteous beliefs). Victor, on the other hand, is viewed as a villain because of the fact that he was framed for a couple of Eli's murders. Vicious, however, makes you question whether or not this is true. Is Eli really the hero? Is Victor really the villain? I found that it was really interesting to read about the hero/villain complex - and V.E. Schwab wrote it super well.

The writing is really what makes the book stand out. I liked the way the story was told, in alternating timelines. The book starts out in the present, and then the chapters are interspersed with recountings from ten years ago, two years ago, last fall, etc. To me, it made the story interesting because it let me be able to figure things out and put together different pieces of the giant puzzle that is Vicious. If this story would have been told in chronological order, I honestly don't think I would have been as interested in it. Plus, the alternating timelines made the story feel more like I was reading a comic book and I just loved that it gave a spin on the traditional way to write a novel.

I also quite enjoyed the characters. Victor was amazing. He was funny, cunning, clever and a great antihero. Mitch and Sydney were close seconds. And Eli. The way he was written makes you question his true motives and second-guess him when the story's in his POV. Vicious' characters were complex and just interesting to read about. If ever V.E. Schwab writes a sequel and it's just about Sydney, Mitch and Victor hanging out around a campfire, I would read the hell out of that.

Vicious is definitely a book for those who love superhero tales, and also for those who love characters that are evil-yet-not-really. Honestly, I think everyone should give Vicious a try. It's cleverly written, it has amazing characters and it's one of those books that you will not want to put down because you want to know what will happen next.

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