Book Review: Vicious by VE Schwab
Goodreads Description: 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?
My Review: I've come to a place in my reading and reviewing of Victoria Schwab's books where I just want to smash my face into the keyboard like an overexcited puppy shouting, "SO GOOD. BOOK SO AWESOME. YOU WILL LOVE. BUY NOW. NAO." But somehow I don't think that gets my full point across, so I will try to put my OMFG into words.
Vicious is everything I wanted in a superhero/villain story wrapped in beautiful prose. Though the story jumps around a lot in time, the narrative is clear and flows so smoothly that readers won't get confused and wonder where the hell they've jumped to next. The first part of the book focuses heavily on the characters' backstories, particularly Victor and Eli's "origin" story. The science and reasoning behind it left the book feeling very realistic, even with people summoning crazy powers. Because of the flip-flops in time, the pacing feels rather slow. But not for a moment did it drag, as the incredible characterization and the tension between finding out what happened as well as what will happen made me want to soak in every word.
And the characters, oh, the characters. I like to think that if I can predict how a character will react to or do in a situation, the character is fully developed. If I know enough about the character to know how they would act, then the author has done their job. Schwab's characters were so well developed that I could see how their beliefs and motivations converged to make them into the people they were, which was delightful. Another breath of fresh air is that few of the main characters were actually good people. They all did horrible things, but it's the devil in the details that determines why you side with Victor over Eli.
Overall, the way the story and plot came together left me unbelievably happy, especially the way the tension built over Victor's countdown to midnight. It did feel a tad Dues ex Machina when Dominic comes into the picture, as his ability lets Victor access and do things that would have otherwise been impossible. I was able to forgive this a tad in the sense that everything else about the book was marvelous. However, there is one part that truly sticks with me, but as it is spoiler-filled, I want to give a warning to skip the next paragraph if you're afraid of spoilers.
The only part that truly bothered me was after Victor's death, Dominic steals his body away. That scene ends on a solid note, however, the next scene with them has Sydney and Mitch digging up Victor's grave in order to revive him. If they already took back his body, probably to revive him anyway, why would they bury him to dig it up? So his 'corpse' could be used against Eli in trial? In which case, why did they take the body?
Alright, you're in the safe zone again. All in all, Vicious was incredible. It's another reason to love Victoria Schwab. If you consider yourself a fan of superheroes--or great writing in general-- be sure to get your hands on this.
TL;DR: Droolworthy. 5/5 stars.