Book Review: Vicious by V.E. Schwab

Vicious (Vicious, #1)Author: V.E. Schwab

Publisher: Tor

Release date: September 24, 2013

Pages/Format: 364 pages, Hardcover

Purchase from: Amazon | Barnes & Noble


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?


Schwab blurs the line between bad and worse.

I don’t usually read adult fiction, much less adult fantasy, but I am so glad that I did! Vicious was a wild page-turner with engrossing character and an equally captivating world within the boundaries of our own. Victor and Eli challenge death as a way to understand how an NDE (Near Death Experience) can affect EO’s (Extra Ordinary) people. Their studies lead them to a mad, but interesting conclusion – that the right kind of NDE can create extraordinary superpowers. Unfortunately, when Eli and Victor acquire their powers – circumstances lead them to turn on each other and seek revenge for the life they’ve each lost.

The story is set up between interchanging chapters of the past and present. For the first half of the book, we see the events that started it all from Victor’s perspective – the thesis between Eli and Victor, the experiments, the tragic scene that ruined it all. In the future, Victor is accompanied by a girl named Sydney and a man named Mitch. Together, the three are a motley crew. Sydney and Mitch’s story slowly unfold as the main story line progresses, reveling their own thoughts and intentions. I found it interesting that from the very beginning we know who Victor is. He isn’t good. Far from it. He’s a complex character with flaws like greed. In my opinion, Victor is a good person – better than Eli.

In the second half of the book, we see the life changing events through Eli’s eyes. It’s interesting to finally see his thoughts that inevitable lead him to feel like he is a god. He is an extremist and condemns all other EOs, hunting them down and disposing of them by himself until he meets Serena, a fellow EO with a superpower that is unnaturally useful. I didn’t like Eli or Serena and that’s a good thing. It means that all of Schwab’s characters were written vibrantly, with personalities that greatly differ between one another. They each have a sense of morality and are dangerously captivating with gifts that are either a blessing or a curse. Eli and Serena were distant and cold characters. Eli’s hero complex and belief towards EOs was…uncanny. While, Serena had no sort of loyalty and ultimately betrays someone close to her.

I see Victor and Eli’s pursuit of one another in the present like a game of cat and mouse. Who is smarter? Who will outwit the other?

The story is fast-paced and I loved that aspect of the book! I’ll be honest, though, the first 100 pages were a little slow for me, yet, I could not stop reading because with every chapter that passed a little of the story was revealed. I wanted to know more. I wanted to know what happened between Eli and Victor and what would ultimately happen to them once they reunited.

If you’re looking for a superhero in this story, well, there isn’t one. Schwab blurs the line between bad and worse and it’s up to you to decide who is better in their own regard.

Vicious is a thriller that will have you mesmerized until the very last sentence. I highly recommend!


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