Review: Vicious by V.E. Schwab

Review: Vicious by V.E. SchwabVicious by V.E. Schwab
Published by Tor on September 24, 2013
Pages: 368
Format: Hardcover
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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.

Though Vicious started out amazing, fast-paced with wonderful characters, the last 90 pages or so really dragged. I felt satisfied with the ending, but unsatisfied with the way we got to the ending.

Victor was a great character. There’s just something about him – He sees himself as the villain, but as one of the main narrators of the story, it’s hard to view him as the villain. He’s so likable and he has an interesting sense of humor! He definitely had a dark side and he kind of scared me at certain points. The end was kind of hilarious, too. I love how his twisted mind thinks!

Eli was such a complicated character. I wanted to hate him and the atrocious things he did. But he was SO convinced what he was doing was for the greater good and to protect people that it made it hard to see him as a villain. His conviction that all EO’s were evil, based on his experience with Victor, was so strong that, sometimes, it was hard not to agree with him and think he was right. But then he would do something heinous and you’d hate him again. The ending, like I said, was hilarious, though. And I think he definitely got what he deserved.

To be honest – and maybe this was just me – I kind of pictured Eli and Victor as Nathan Fillion and Neil Patrick Harris from Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along. Seriously, maybe it’s just me. If you know what Dr. Horrible is, let me know if you agree! And if you don’t know what Dr. Horrible is, well… GO WATCH IT ON NETFLIX NOW!!!

I really loved the secondary characters in this book. Sydney was young and innocent, yet forced to grow up fast. She had an amazing, scary power that she had to learn to control and she had to do dark things with it. She never should have been put in that situation. There was one thing with Sydney’s power at the end, though, that.. Eh. It got kind of annoying and repetitive. And maybe it was meant for shock value? To scare readers and keep us guessing? But it happened twice and it was.. Annoying. Like a false lead. It felt needless, like a trick. Maybe it’s just because the book was dragging at that point and I just wanted it to end, but it was kind of annoying. I also loved Mitch. He was like a big, scary teddy bear. I liked that he questioned Victor and I liked how he took care of Sydney. But again… Something at the end.. Meh.

Serena was awesome. I know she was supposed to be a bad guy for so many reasons, but I had some trouble viewing her like that. In my opinion, Eli twisted everything to make her believe him and side with him. Though she was the one who could technically control him, he put his own little spell on her. She believed in him and his cause and, since she had no one else, she went along with it – like in a cult. Without Eli’s influence, I think she would have used her powers for good, not evil. I LOVED that she put Eli in his place and talked back to him. It was hilarious. Also, she kind of reminded me of Ridley Duchannes from Beautiful Creatures. Anyone agree?

For the most part, this book was fast-paced and kept me on the edge of my seat. At several points, my heart was pounding like crazy, waiting to see what would happen. The characters were great, the plot and writing were great and I LOVED the blurred lines of good versus evil and right versus wrong. It really makes you wonder: If a bad thing is done with good intentions, is it good or bad? I was really sad when the last 90 or so pages began to drag, though. I was hoping for an epic, out-with-a-bang ending. I LOVED the ending itself and cracked up at Victor’s genius, but getting to the ending was painful.

Overall, I mostly enjoyed this book. I think reading the first 100 pages in September and then not reading the rest of the book until eight months later definitely might have put a damper in my enthusiasm and, for that reason alone, I definitely still recommend this book. Victoria Schwab is a great writer with a brilliant imagination and I would still tell people to read ALL her books because she’s awesome and they’re awesome.