Friday, February 21, 2014

Review: Vicious - V. E. Schwab

Vicious by V. E. Schwab
Genre: Adult, paranormal
Published on September 24, 2013
Published by Tor
Pages: 364
Read From: 2.8.14 - 2.10.14

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 hidden possibility: that under the right conditions, someone could actually gain extraordinary abilities. But when their thesis inevitably moves from the academic to the experimental, things go horribly wrong. 

Ten years later, Victor has broken 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. Eli is on a mission to eradicate every other superpowered person he can find - aside from his own sidekick, an enigmatic woman with an unbreakable will. Armed with terrible power on both sides, spurred onward by the memory of betrayal and desperate longing, the archnemeses have set a course for revenge - but who will be left alive at the end?


Cover Blurb: Yes or No? I do really like the cover. It’s simple, but rather creepy at the same time. Love the colors and the bleeding hand. :-)

Characters: This isn’t a story where you can like anyone. With the exception of one character, Sydney, they are all villains or anti-heroes. That said, this is also a story where you don’t need to like anyone. This is a book about villains, so it would in fact be a disappointment if we liked them as more than what they are: horrid people. Both Victor and Eli are eaten up with selfishness and a craving for power. They never do anything for anyone else; just themselves, even if they claim otherwise. Eli is most certainly the worst of them, as he develops a sort of god complex once he gains his powers, but Victor’s reasons for seeking revenge on Eli are impossible to sympathize with. It’s because of Victor’s need to be as powerful as Eli; to share the fame of discovering EOs, that he is accused of murder. Victor causes all of his own problems. However, I thoroughly enjoyed the complexity of these two villains. A part of them knows that they’re doing wrong, but they can’t stop themselves, and eventually give themselves up for dead and don’t even try. In the end, they are two mad scientists who have been literally consumed by their experiment. Mitch, Victor’s henchman, is more likable, even though he’s a convicted criminal. He shows a distaste for what Victor does, and he isn’t as guilty of his crimes as one first assumes. Just a man who was in the wrong place at the wrong time – in every instance throughout his entire life. Sydney, the girl Victor ends up rescuing from the street (that act of kindness doesn’t even remotely redeem him; Victor has ulterior motives for everything), is the only real innocent in this book. An accident created her EO power, and Victor is the only person she can trust now. Despite all of the horrible things he does, I could kind of understand why she still became attached to him and even trusted him.

The Romance: There isn’t any really.

Plot: I’m not going to try and explain beyond the official synopsis, because this is a very twisty plot that you just have to read to appreciate. The story is told in a series of flashbacks and lots of jumping around in the timeline. Confusing at first, it unfolds the entirety of the characters’ stories and circumstances in a completely amazing and haunting manner that grips your attention to the very end. To reveal anything in simple English would detract from the magic of the reading experience. Because that’s what this book is: not just a story, but an experience. It’s not slow at all – I can assure you of that right away. The way it’s written keeps the Reader guessing and wondering and flipping the pages. The Author reveals just enough to catch your interest and lures you through the story like a tantalizing cookie (I would say carrot on a stick, but who would chase after a carrot?). It’s a very dark story; most revenge stories are. But this one may take the cake. There’s snatches of very dark humor, but overall there’s no laughs in this one. Just grim horror, and it’s awesome. I would love to know how big my eyes were as I read this.

Believability: Not applicable.

Writing Style: Third person, past tense. I actually really missed Victoria Schwab’s trait present tense narration! Not to say that the past tense didn’t work; it did. I just missed the present tense, because she does it so bloody well. Each chapter alternates not only between characters, but location and times. That is, the narration jumps all over the timeline. There’s the present timeline, and then there will be chapters that take place ten years before that present time, or chapters that take place two weeks after that ten years. It was a little confusing at first, but once I got what the Author was doing, it worked terrifically. It allowed the suspense to accumulate while offering very thorough backstory, and not have the book drag. It eventually creeps into a countdown to Victor and Eli’s final confrontation. Very suspenseful.

Content: 18 s-words, 17 f-words. There’s a lot of violence, but it isn’t gory; just lots of blood. Aside from the profanity, the lack of content actually surprised me, since this is technically an adult book.

Conclusion: As the final showdown between Eli and Victor slowly creeps closer, the suspense builds. I honestly didn’t really know how this would turn out. There was only one real possibility, and I suppose if I had thought about it more, I might have solved it. But I was so wrapped up in the story that I just let it take me along for the ride. I didn’t want to try and guess. Actually, I forgot to try. Vicious is an adult novel, but this could easily be an older YA novel. It may, in fact, be my favorite Victoria Schwab book. It was just so intense and so interesting and everyone was a villain! If it weren't for the profanity, it would get five stars.

Recommended Audience: Girl-and-guy read, eighteen-and-up, great for fans of revenge stories, Victoria Schwab, and supernatural thrillers.

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