Tuesday 21 January 2014

Vicious review

V.E Schwab
10th January 2014 (UK)
Titan Books (UK)

Victor and Eli, due to a research project gone wrong, become ExtraOrdinaries with supernatural powers. Ten years later Victor escapes from prison,determined to get his revenge on the man who put him there, while Eli has spent the years hunting down and killing other EOs. Driven by the memory of betrayal and loss, the arch-nemeses have set a course for revenge...

Vicious was a really interesting book that was kind of out of my usual reading comfort zone, I guess (it's an adult novel and I don't usually go there unless it's for college), but regardless of that it was book that I could not resist. I mean, science? Vengeance? Superpowers? Who could say no to that?! Not me, that's for sure.

The real core of this novel is the relationship between Victor and Eli, how it all goes wrong and they are both sort of driven by each other towards this crazy path of revenge. From the start in college, their relationship is kind of toxic, with Victor mainly being drawn to Eli because of darkness that he saw in Eli every now and again, and his desire to draw that out. But even though, throughout the whole course of the novel, Victor proves himself to be despicable and does some pretty bad things, I still ending up liking him more and wanting him to come out of this whole twisted situation okay. This could have been because we get Victor's point of view on the situation first, so we get to know him first, but I think for me it was because Eli was somehow worse because he thought all the bad things he was doing was for the 'greater good'. Though neither of the characters are particularly sympathetic.

Although the whole story is really about Victor and Eli and their whole vengeance thing, I also ending up getting really into Sydney and Serena's story, too. Sydney and Serena are sisters, and they both end up being on Victor and Eli's sides respectively. I think that Sydney was my favourite character out of all of them, but that might just be because she's the closest to a YA/MG heroine in the book (she's only 13). Then again it might also be because she's brilliant and she can raise the dead. Like, that's kind of crazy. But I liked getting to see how these people had been drawn into Victor and Eli's conflict, and getting to see the situation from outside perspectives. Victor's other ally, his ex-prison cellmate Mitch, was also a great character.

One of my favourite things about Vicious, I think, was the scale of it. When it comes to superhero stories I expect huge final conflicts, with cities being destroyed and passersby all stopping to notice and news coverage and all that business. But Vicious is a lot smaller that this, yet it's all the better for it. When I was reading it, it felt a little bit anticlimatic, but now that I think back on it, it's really the perfect way for the book, and Victor and Eli's conflict to end. It's less of a superpower/superhero book and more of a book about two people with powers who want to get revenge on each other. And the very, very end of the book made me very happy, though I could understand if it made some people annoyed.

I also loved the worldbuilding, and enjoyed the way that the narrative was actually told. The ways in which Victor and Eli discovered that people could become EOs (ExtraOrdinaries - people with powers) actually made some sort of sense, and that's really important to me when reading more science fiction-y books. Obviously the science wasn't real, but it seemed logical in this universe instead of just random science-y stuff picked out of nowhere. Especially when it comes to powers, I much prefer the idea of getting powers through science than because you're born with them. And although I'm usually not that keen on having multiple points of view, because this book was in 3rd person it didn't seem as bad that it didn't just stick to one person. It allowed to story to be told in such a way that it kept you hooked because information was only being revealed fragmentally. You only get the full picture of what's happening, from both Victor and Eli's points of view, pretty much just before the end. I like that kind of edge of your seat stroytelling, you know? Though I will say that it took me a while to get properly into.

Vicious was a really, really good book. I can't really do it much justice because I always wait so long to write reviews and forget loads of stuff that I want to say about the book, but trust me this book is really good. If you like science-y, superpower-y books about vengeance, then this book is really for you.


  1. Eee! We're really eager to read VICIOUS, so we're glad that you enjoyed it. And yeah, the idea of superpowers on a small scale sounds a little odd -- but wonderfully odd, in the right hands. We trust Victoria Schwab to tell us this story!

  2. Not my kind of story but it sounds interesting. Thanks for the review.


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