Book Review: Vicious by V.E. Schwab

ViciousI believe it was the cover that first drew me to Vicious. Something about it screamed ‘Villain’. That the blurb spoke of a story about archnemeses, super powers, and  revenge, and I was pretty much sold. I’m drawn to stories of righting wrongs and heroes that aren’t clean and shiny.

What I got … well, that was something different. And a whole lot of fun.

Vicious is about Victor and Eli, two college roommates who are opposites of one another, but drawn to the brilliance and ambition of the other. This shared commonality leads them to research near-death experiences and supernatural experiences and a theory that under the right conditions, one could develop extraordinary abilities. But once they move beyond theory, things go wrong. Lives are lost and a friendship is torn apart.

Vicious starts ten years later with Victor breaking out of prison. He has a simple goal – to find his old friend and exact revenge. Aided by a young girl with incredible powers of her own, Victor discovers that Eli has his own mission – to eradicate everyone with unnatural abilities like his own. But Victor’s sudden reemergence has changed plans and put them on a collision course.

The story bounces back and forth through time, from when Victor and Eli were in college to the modern day. A common trick, but it serves well to tell us the story and give us glimpses into the background between the two. It would also be simple to say that it’s a story about revenge. It is but the Why is ever so important and Vicious has a great Why.

V.E. Schwab does a great job of portraying Victor and Eli as two relatively normal people who become something more. But she never loses touch of the things that make them normal – jealousy, desire for revenge, and questioning if they should exist in the first place or not.

It’s hard to place the story. It’s not quite a Hero vs Villain story nor is it Anti-Hero vs Villain. In fact, it can be hard to figure out who is the hero and who is the villain. The Good Guy is bad and the Bad Guy isn’t so good but he’s not as bad as the Good Guy. All of this results in a dark, gritty story with tension all about and a desire to keep turning the page no matter how late the hour. And at the end . . .  well, no spoilers. But I’m really hoping for a sequel to see Victor and Eli throw down again.

Go out, grab it, and make some room in your schedule. Vicious is worth it.
Author: V.E. Schwab

Matt Hughes, Contributor
A freelance writer and full time Technology Lead at a private college, Matt Hughes holds a B.A. in English w/ Writing Emphasis & Africana Studies from Luther College. Matt writes a mix of Science-Fiction and Fantasy and is an alumni of Viable Paradise XIII. He is currently at work on a sci-fi thriller. He also writes a variety of non-fiction articles on technology, food and fitness, and health among other topics. When not at the keyboard, Matt spends his time running, gardening, or practicing martial arts. He lives in Northeast Iowa with his wife, a dog, and a cat. He keeps a blog.

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