Monday, July 14, 2014

Book Review: Vicious by V.E. Schwab

Title: Vicious
Author: V.E. Schwab
Published: September 2013 by Tor Books (Macmillan)
(Amazon / Goodreads / Audible)

Synopsis: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.

This book has been in my TBR pile for a while now. I have heard nothing but great things from fellow bloggers and was really excited to read it. And despite my high expectations and the fact I was just blown away by a book about antiheroes with supernatural powers I thoroughly enjoyed Vicious.

What first struck me about this book was how brilliant the world-building is. It's hard not to compare it to the last superhero/antihero book I read (Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson), but that would be an unfair comparison. However, what they both did extremely well is create numerous characters with very different powers. What Vicious did even better was establish why they had these powers. I read a lot Sci-Fi/Fantasy and it sounds like a weird thing to say but the best books have a clear set of rules that they operate in and Vicious absolutely does. The way you receive these powers directly relates to the powers that you have and it is all about you and your personality. With each new EO we meet we got explore not only what their power is but how they earned this power. It was a fascinating and compelling story with a complicated and interesting world and I was hooked from the very beginning.

Plus, like a lot of stories about superheroes and villains, this is a story about power and control. A story about how to respond to a responsibility that you never really expected to receive. The characters in Vicious are given or give themselves supernatural powers and need to then decide how they will react to these powers. Do they use them for good or for evil? Or both? And what this book does so well is live in that grey area between the two. The main characters view their powers in completely opposite ways, and their different reactions cause some pretty serious conflict.

Throughout the book we explores the competitiveness of the relationship between Victor and Eli. It is told in a unique format where the chapters alternate between Eli and Victor both in the past and the present. When we first meet them they are studying science and competing over who is the top of the class (making this fit my Geek Books theme), but when they give themselves superpowers things explode and that competitiveness, and their opposite opinions, turn them into arch-nemeses. As the book develops we slowly learn what led them down the paths that they are on ten years later. This kind of format of switching timelines can get confusing but Victoria Schwab expertly crafts an interesting and complex story. The plot slowly build to a thrilling conclusion and along the way there gut-wrenching and surprising twists that kept me interested and intrigued.

But perhaps the best part of this story is the characters themselves. Victor Vale and Eli Ever could not be more compelling antiheroes. They're the types of characters that I always love who have odious moral codes and it is difficult to say if they are doing the right thing for the wrong reasons or the other way around. As the story develops and you begin to learn why they are doing what they are doing that line becomes even blurrier. Your opinion of them changes and you unexpectedly begin to empathize with them but at the same time you are hating them for what they are doing. It's a very conflicted feeling and I love that!

Vicious is a phenomenal novel that hits you in all the right places. There were times where I laughed, times where I cried (and oh boy did I cry). There were times where I could barely handle the mystery and my theories of how the book was going to develop (theories that were surprisingly inaccurate). There was tons of action that kept me on the edge of my seat, and characters that had me hook from page 1 to 364.

I give Vicious by V.E. Schwab a 9 out 10

I would recommend this book to anyone who likes stories about superheroes or antiheroes with complex and interesting world-building. If you like books about characters who walk the line between good and evil this is the book for you.

Have you read Vicious? What did you think? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!


  1. I really like the look of this one. I have heard so much about this and I have heard nothing book good things. The whole superhero and villains things sounds brilliant!

    Also, a huge fan of the sound of the good world building. Nothing better in a novel!

    Thanks for sharing! :D

    Alex @ The Shelf Diaries

  2. AHH you are so right I love the set of rules the world/acquiring of powers works on. It makes them so personal. I loved that. This was one of my favorite books (was it last year that it came out?) I think so - but yes an absolute favorite!