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Thursday, November 7, 2013
Vicious
By Victoria Schwab


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 arch nemeses 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.

Review: Vicious is a dark tale suited for people who enjoy anti-heroes with an emphasis on "anti". Through interspersing flashbacks with the current action, Schwab constructs a dark tale of revenge that successfully ratchets up the tension before reaching a satisfying conclusion. It's about how two close friends and roommates, both with some potential for sociopathy, undergo trauma that leads to betrayal, making one a murderer and the other a complete monster. The build up to when they face each other again makes for a page-turning read.

The most fascinating part of the story to me was seeing how the characters came by their extraordinary abilities. The explanation provided for why the powers manifest in a certain way was extremely clever. Despite breaking up the action, the flashbacks worked effectively to establish who these people are and how they came to be in the present conflict, adding to the plot rather than distracting from it.

I was rooting for Victor despite myself: he is the lesser of the evils but evil all the same, but he endeared himself to me. This is largely due thanks to his partner and former cellmate, Mitch, as well as Sydney: an injured little girl Victor fortuitously rescues. I'm a sucker for found family narratives, and this one really tugged the old heartstrings: they even acquire a dog. As for the antagonist Eli Ever (alliteration is important in a superhero name) witnessing his delusion from his POV was chilling. Though personally I found his girlfriend Serena to be both more frightening and more tragic. 

I'd recommend this novel for anyone who likes their comic book stories dark, is comfortable with a protagonist who's a dirtier shade of gray, enjoy a suspenseful plot, and don't mind a story that's short on romance but rich in interesting, if damaged, characters. 

4.5 Stars

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Thursday, November 7, 2013

Review: Vicious by Victoria Schwab

Vicious
By Victoria Schwab


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 arch nemeses 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.

Review: Vicious is a dark tale suited for people who enjoy anti-heroes with an emphasis on "anti". Through interspersing flashbacks with the current action, Schwab constructs a dark tale of revenge that successfully ratchets up the tension before reaching a satisfying conclusion. It's about how two close friends and roommates, both with some potential for sociopathy, undergo trauma that leads to betrayal, making one a murderer and the other a complete monster. The build up to when they face each other again makes for a page-turning read.

The most fascinating part of the story to me was seeing how the characters came by their extraordinary abilities. The explanation provided for why the powers manifest in a certain way was extremely clever. Despite breaking up the action, the flashbacks worked effectively to establish who these people are and how they came to be in the present conflict, adding to the plot rather than distracting from it.

I was rooting for Victor despite myself: he is the lesser of the evils but evil all the same, but he endeared himself to me. This is largely due thanks to his partner and former cellmate, Mitch, as well as Sydney: an injured little girl Victor fortuitously rescues. I'm a sucker for found family narratives, and this one really tugged the old heartstrings: they even acquire a dog. As for the antagonist Eli Ever (alliteration is important in a superhero name) witnessing his delusion from his POV was chilling. Though personally I found his girlfriend Serena to be both more frightening and more tragic. 

I'd recommend this novel for anyone who likes their comic book stories dark, is comfortable with a protagonist who's a dirtier shade of gray, enjoy a suspenseful plot, and don't mind a story that's short on romance but rich in interesting, if damaged, characters. 

4.5 Stars

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