Author: Victoria Schwab
Genre: Adult Paranormal
Publication Date: September 24, 2013
Format: Hardcover, 368 Pages
ISBN-10: 0765225344 (Tor/Macmillan)
ISBN-13: 978-0765335340 (Tor/Macmillan)
Reviewed by: Bridget
A masterful, twisted tale of ambition, jealousy, betrayal, and superpowers, set in a near-future world.
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.
Quick & Dirty: A dark and twisted story filled with revenge, addictive writing, and amazing three-dimensional characters. I highly recommend it to anyone looking for a wildly entertaining book that makes you question good vs. bad.
Opening Sentence: Victor readjusted the shovels on his shoulder and stepped gingerly over and old, half-sunken grave.
Victor Vale and Eli Cardale are brilliant competitive roommates at college and they have just discovered a new obsession. There is a rumor that a combination of a near-death experience paired with a great desire to survive produces extra ordinary effects. So of course being two genius scientists the boys decide to experiment with their thesis. The results are more catastrophic than they could have ever imagined. Victor ends up in prison and Eli becomes a hero.
Ten years later, Victor has just escaped from prison and he is out for blood. Driven crazy by revenge he will do anything and sacrifice everything to kill his old best friend, Eli. Joined by his cellmate and a young girl with a very interesting extra ordinary trait, Victor is ready to extract his revenge. Meanwhile, Eli has spent the last ten years killing every EO he has come across. He has made himself into a self-righteous hero determined to rid the world of the unnatural evil. Armed with amazing power and plagued by the past, the archenemies are on an unstoppable journey to destroy each other, but who will be left standing at the end?
Vicious is filled with very interesting and dark characters. First you meet Victor who is so driven by revenge that it is hard for him to see anything else. He spent years in prison plotting and scheming, it was the only thing that kept him sane. Now that he is out what is he willing to sacrifice to finally rid the world of Eli forever? I was really torn with my feelings for Victor. There were times that I really liked him and other times where I despised him. He is so filled with hate, but every once in a while you see a glimpse of his good side. Surprisingly, I actually really connected with Victor and found myself cheering him on because he was the lesser of two evils.
Then you have Eli who is trying to be a hero, but honestly he is just a cold blooded killer. He really believes in his cause and feels that he is doing the right thing. This actually made him really creepy, but at the same time I understood him. He is a control freak that has to have everything perfect, and when things don’t go according to plan he gets this crazed feel to him. He is a very unstable character, which added greatly to the intensity of the story.
I am briefly going to mention a couple of secondary characters because they were my favorite part of the book. First there is Sydney who is only 13 years old, but she has been through a lot. A year ago she died and came back to life, now she has an extra ordinary gift. She has been betrayed by those she trusted and now has teamed up with Victor to help him bring down Eli. Most EO’s seem to have become detached from their emotions, but not Sydney, she is still very compassionate and caring. She brings out the good in others and was a very integral character. Last but not least we have Mitchell Turner. He was Victor’s cellmate in prison and was dealt a poor hand in life. He looks the part of a thug with his huge stature and tattoo’s, but he is actually a very tender hearted person. He is a crazy smart hacker and is very loyal to the few friends he has. Suffice to say the characters in this book were amazing and brilliantly written.
This was a very dark twisted story that I loved. It is very different from what I normally read since there was really no romance and all of the characters are villains in their own way. It makes you question good vs. bad. There is a lot of grey area explored in this book and it was fascinating. There were situations that made me dislike the characters and other times that made me admire them. Schwab’s writing was so addicting and engrossing. Each chapter tends to be a different time period, anywhere from ten years ago to current events. Normally when a book jumps around so much it is really problematic for me, but Schwab really made it work to her advantage. Instead of being lost and confused, it just made me more curious and really piqued my interest. The story really makes you think but at the same time it is wildly entertaining. The ending was perfect but left me wishing that there was a sequel. I loved the world that Schwab created and I wish that I could get more. I would highly recommend this to anyone that is looking for a great adult book that is dark and twisted.
For the first time, panic filled Victor’s mouth like bile. He swallowed, and resumed compressions. The only sounds in the room were his whispered counts and his pulse—his pulse, not Eli’s—and the odd sound of his hands trying desperately to restart his best friend’s heart.
Trying. And Failing.
Victor began to lose hope. He was running out of chances, out of pens. There was only one left. His hand slid from Eli’s chest, shaking as his fingers curled around it. He raised the pen, and stopped. Beneath him, sprawled on the tiles, was the lifeless body of Eli Cardale. Eli, who showed up in the hallway sophomore year with a suitcase and a smile. Eli, who believed in God and had a monster inside just like Victor, but knew how to hide it better. Eli, who got away with everything, who had slipped into his life and stolen the girl and the top rank and the stupid holiday research grant. Eli, who, despite it all, meant something to Victor.
He swallowed, and drove the pen in his dead friend’s chest.
One count, two count, three count.
And then, somewhere between Victor giving up and reaching for his phone. Eli gasped.
FTC Advisory: Tor/Macmillan provided me with a copy of Vicious. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.
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