Adult Review: Vicious by V.E. Schwab

Publication Date: September 24, 2013
Publisher: Tor
Reading Level: Adult
Pages: 368 (ARC)
Source: BEA 2013
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?
~*~Lili's Reflections~*~

This book completely blew me away. I went into this expecting to love it because I have greatly enjoyed all of Schwab's young adult writing, but I didn't expect to not only love it more than her YA literature, but to love it more than any other adult series I have read to date.

To put it simply, this book is dark. I love dark books, so this was a major positive for me, but I know that some of the places this books takes us can be just as off-putting to some as they were attention-snagging to me. If you can't stand twisted scenarios, this is not for you. At all. These college kids realize that a combination of a near-death-experience with a sudden adrenaline spike can lead to the emergence of certain abilities that make them EOs--ExtraOrdinary. And, like any genius scientists, they decide to test this theory. You can only imagine what happens from there. But I will tell you this...it's ruthless.

Each chapter tends to be told during a different time. Some ten years ago when Eli and Victor were still in college, some today, some two days ago. I thought this time lapse would initially be problematic, but it wasn't. It pretty much works to fill in all the gaps in the story since all we know in the beginning is that Eli and Victor were once inseparable, ambitious geniuses at college and now Victor just broke out of jail ten years later with the goal of killing Eli. As you can see, it's very easy to get sucked into this book because you so desperately want to figure out what went down to cause such a drastic shift in persona.

But, I have to say that this story was so engrossing because it was so character driven. Victor had two of my favorite secondary characters on his side. Firstly, Sydney. Though only thirteen, she's got the strangest of abilities that she does her best at hiding under her calm facade. She's surprisingly integral to this story and watching her connect with Victor and seeing the way Victor took her under his wing shows that this hardened criminal does have a heart. And then there's Mitchell Turner--Victor's roommate that broke out of jail with him. Mitchell looks like he should be out committing murders with his size, his muscles, and his tattoos. But, instead, he's a brilliant hacker with a serious case of wrong-place-at-the-wrong-time syndrome. He's been in and out of jail for so long that he accepts this curse rules his life. But he's got a big heart that causes him to hold his friends close and his chocolate milk closer. There are several other characters too, but the point is clear: even the side characters are attention-grabbing and unique because they are so three-dimensional. There was absolutely nobody bland in this book.

Then there's the main characters...I loved Victor, which shocked me. Because, well, Victor's messed up. He's quirky with his constant blacking out of pages in books, but he's focused, which makes it easy to connect to him. I had a conversation about this with Schwab on Twitter, but Victor is physically a grown up Draco Malfoy. He is lithe, he has white-blond hair and pale skin makes his even paler eyes stand out. Oh, and all he wears is black. He's very yummy despite the age gap between us that I am choosing to conveniently forget about. He's also a very passionate person, and he's driven in all of his pursuits, even if that pursuit is taking down his old best friend. This passion oozes off the page to the reader. And, most importantly, he's got a good head on his shoulders. While Eli follows twisted logic, Victor Vale accepts the fact that most EOs don't choose to be EOs the way he and Eli did. They got their second chance at life and they can't control the fact that this is what happened to them. So, they deserve to have that second chance and put it to good use instead of having it taken away before they can even attempt to be good.

In contrast, Eli thinks that EOs are unnatural and deserve to die, excluding himself because his power is reflexive. He can harm nobody with his power, not even himself, so he must do His bidding and take out all people who do not deserve to live because they cheated death once and came back ExtraOrdinary. It's very twisted. In some sick way, he genuinely believes that what he is doing is right--that he is the hero in this scenario while Victor is the villain. He is following what he believes is his destiny. With that in mind, you can tell there is some religious connection in this book, though it's not opinionated. It's used to further the plot in interesting ways and muddle everything even more.

So, as you can see, this book gets you thinking. It makes you question right and wrong, humanity versus playing God, and second chances. It makes you realize that on two different sides of a war or a battle, a fight or a disagreement, both sides passionately believe that what they're fighting for is correct, even if it doesn't make sense to the other side. This book is one that demands to be read in one sitting, but sometimes the events in it make you step back and take a breath. It's twisted, it's ruthless, but it's awesome. It's vicious. It had me screaming out loud and begging for things not to happen. And as embarrassing as such things are, it makes me so happy that I forged such a strong connection to the characters and wanted so much more.

In the end, I wasn't ready to say good-bye to this book. Admittedly, the ending was perfect. I couldn't have asked for a better one, but this is one of those rare cases where I'm sad this is a stand-alone because I want to see more of this journey. I want to see what happens after that tense and shocking final showdown, what happens to our side characters and the world they revealed to us. I just want more. And, as terrible as it is that I know I won't be getting anymore, I know that this yearning inside me is the true sign of an amazing author.

Schwab has yet to disappoint me with any of her writing. She is officially a favorite for the melancholy, the twisted, and the dramatic. She holds a spot on my list of authors that are so amazing I am compelled to buy every single book they publish.

For readers who do not like sex in their books, this is actually a good adult book for you! There is no romance. This is all working against a time-crunch to defeat evil with awesome superpowers. While there is not smut, there's death and graphic violence. But, hey, it's not like you can avoid both. I'd say this is a great young-adult crossover book for readers who favor darker stories the way I do.

5 stars

~*~Links~*~

Disclaimer: I received no compensation in return for this honest review.  

20 comments:

  1. Ahh, this sounds awesome! Glad you liked it, Lili! I definitely am going to read this, even though I rarely read adult books unless it's literature (not for fun, mind you). Love that it's about superpowers :D

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Haha I'm not the biggest adult fan either, but I couldn't ignore this concept! SUPERPOWERS! <3 How can a book like that be ignored. Plus, I really loved THE ARCHIVED and I enjoyed THE NEAR WITCH so I knew that Schwab could write a good dark-ish story, just not one this amazing!

      Delete
  2. YAY! I'm so glad you loved it. I'm counting down the days until I can finally buy it. I read the teaser that was up on NetGalley and I've been obsessing ever since.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The teaser is on Netgalley! But trust me, it cuts off at like the most terrible time because you're so into it. haha <3 I completely understand if you don't have the willpower to ignore it though.

      And YES! BUY IT! PRE-ORDER IT! PRE-ORDER IT FOR YOUR BEST FRIENDS OR DISHONOR ON YOU, YOUR COW, AND YOUR WHOLE FAMILY!

      Delete
    2. It did cut off at the worse time.

      I'm buying myself a copy, my best guy friend a copy for his birthday, and I'm giving away a copy along with all of her other books on my blog so I think I'm good lol.

      Delete
    3. VICIOUS for everyone!

      And dear...I so totally approve of this giveaway even though I'm not going to enter because I own every book but THE UNBOUND.

      Delete
  3. Check out this short story set in the world of Vicious... http://www.tor.com/stories/2013/08/warm-up. I'm super excited for this book!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I will definitely be checking that out whenever I get the chance! <3 And you should be excited!

      Delete
  4. I haven't read any of her books (I know, it's horrible) but I have one of them! This sounds fantastic and your review is superb, Lili! The characters sound wonderful and twisted and that's just the best combo. I hurrah'd the fact that it makes you think AND that you didn't want to leave the story. There are good books, but you know you hit the jackpot when you just don't want to leave. Yay!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. YOU MUST READ ONE OF HER BOOKS!

      Thank you, Sunny <3 Nope, don't want to let this one go yet. Totally want a sequel. Desperately.

      Delete
  5. Eee, I'm so excited to read this! I'll definitely get to it this week. Your review has me MEGA excited!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I AM SO HAPPY I HAVE YOU MEGA EXCITED BECAUSE I LOVE YOUR OPINIONS <3 yes.

      Anyway, READ IT!

      Delete
  6. This book sounds like one of the best books ever! I'm so excited to get my hands on a copy soon! Gah, I love the whole Superhero sound of it as well! This was a wonderful review and I saw that the author loved it as well on Twitter and I can see why now! Great job!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah, this one really is superheroes. While DARK STAR is superhero-ish, this one outright is!

      Delete
    2. Yeah! I freaked out when I saw that Victoria loved my review on Twitter! That's such an honor!

      Delete
  7. Gah, this sounds so good. Schwab is an excellent writer and I know she had to allow herself to go to some really dark places in order to write this one. When an author gets as emotional as she did over Vicious, you know it has to be great.

    So far I've only read the first couple pages. I love the writing but I think I need to be in a different kind of mood to really dive into it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. She is an amazing writer, and ahhh, I can see why she had to do that. Most definitely! Emotion = love = awesomeness for us.

      You need to be prepared for the twisted and melancholy to properly read this one. Because it picks up then doesn't stop rather quickly.

      Delete
  8. There are so many great September releases coming out! I loved The Archived. When I read the synopsis for this one it sounded amazing, and the fact that it was written by Victoria Schwab only added to the appeal. I really love character driven books too, and from what you've said I think Vicious will have characterization in spades. I'm so glad that you liked Vicious. I have high hopes for this one!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. A great synopsis goes a long way. This one can pull practically anyone in. And then top it off with Victoria Schwab and you've got me hooked!

      It has amazing characterization in scores! Your high hopes will be satisfied!

      Delete
  9. I LOVE dark books, and I love this author, but I usually don't read Adult Fiction. However, this one came highly recommended so I checked it out and thought it sounded pretty darn good. It is sitting on my shelf now, just waiting for me to get to it. After your very enthusiastic, highly contagious review! Vicious, here I come! Thanks so much for yet another AWESOME review!

    Check out the latest reviews and posts at The Best Books Ever

    ReplyDelete