Vicious by V.E. SchwabVicious by V.E. Schwab
Series: Vicious #1
Published by Tor on September 24th 2013
Genres: Paranormal
Pages: 364

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?

5 Stars

Plenty of humans were monstrous, and plenty of monsters knew how to play at being human.

When I review a novel I always try to be as objective as possible. The star rating usually reflects my overall opinion and how much I enjoyed the reading experience. In the review on the other hand, I divide the book into different parts and judge them all separately, e.g. setting/world-building, characters, plot etc. Most of the time this works well and the review reflects the overall sentiment I had after finishing a book.

Sometimes, however, a book comes along which I just love without being able to say why exactly. Vicious is one such book. Looking back at the elements of the novel separately, the story seems intriguing certainly but not like anything really new. Two brilliant college seniors test their thesis experimentally and things go horribly wrong. There are superpowers. It’s reminiscent of X-Man. Doesn’t sound like anything you’ve never read before. However, the way the story is written and being inside the characters’ heads, gave me a reading experience unlike anything I’ve ever had.

He wanted to care, he wanted to care so badly, but there was this gap between what he felt and what he wanted to feel, a space where something important had been carved out.

I just wanted to read and read some more until it was done and when I was, I put the book down and stared at the wall for about a minute before I could move again (that might be a slight exaggeration but you get my point). This book is truly phenomenal. The way V.E. Schwab weaved the different story threads together, alternating between past and present, speaks of genius.

After the first page I was hooked. The characters were complex, the writing beautiful, the plot kept me on my toes and the pacing was perfect. The switching between the different time lines could have been confusing or unnecessary, instead the flashbacks added character depth and motivation.

But Vicious is more than that. It challenges the reader, the way we think; the novel asks excellent questions about morality, faith and fanaticism and what it means to be good or evil. Can the two even be separated from one another? Or is every person the hero of his own story? Does killing become acceptable if is done for the apparent greater good? It has been a long time since I’ve read a book that had me so emotionally and mentally engaged. Reading Vicious was a rollercoaster of emotion.

If Eli really was a hero, and Victor meant to stop him, did that make him a villain?

He took a long sip of his drink, tipped his head back against the couch, and decided he could live with that.

I recommend this novel to absolutely everyone, regardless of your age or favourite genre. You do not need to be interested in superpowers or like comic books. All you need is an open mind. Give it a try, you won’t regret it!

All Eli had to do was smile. All Victor had to do was lie. Both proved frighteningly effective.