Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Book Review: Vicious by Victoria Schwab

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?

WARNING: This review is dark and full of spoilers.

I don’t expect much from this book. I’ve never read any of Schwab’s other works. I usually read novels with female POVs. I love romance, even if there’s just a hint. From the summary, Vicious doesn’t seem to fit my usual mold at all. But, hey, maybe it will surprise me. It sounds like it could be fun.

Well, that was the most wonderful, fucked up thing I’ve ever read in my entire existence.

I’ll admit. I was skeptical. The timeline in this book was all over the place (we jumped from two days ago to ten years ago to half-an-hour until midnight). Sometimes there were POV switches within a sentence. It was jarring to say the least. But the characters saved the day.

I love morally ambiguous characters. It’s probably the reason I’m such a huge Game of Thrones/ASOIAF fanatic. But the characters in Vicious were more than morally ambiguous—some were “morally lacking”. Being in Eli’s head was a real treat because he was a great psychopath. Being in Victor’s head was a real treat because he was a great psychopath. I know people think this book is about superheroes and supervillians (that is how it was promoted, anyway), but it’s really not. It’s actually about two supervillians, with one worse than the other (but both are pretty bad). The only characters in Vicious anywhere close to being “good guys” were Sydney and her dog, Dol. That’s it. Just a girl and a dog.

Of course, morally ambiguous/corrupt characters can’t carry an entire novel by themselves. They need a good story. Schwab weaved an exciting one of betrayal and revenge. I was on the edge of my seat, waiting to see what would happen. The ending was definitely something I couldn’t ever predict. Actually, I’m a little disappointed with the ending, but only because it ended. I wanted to see how Victor, Sydney and Mitch moved on with their lives after Eli. Did they stay together? Did Victor keep his powers? Did they become true heroes eventually? But I guess I’ll never know. That kills me a bit inside. I think that speaks volumes to how much I enjoyed Vicious.

Vicious was a thrilling, messed-up ride of a novel. I loved every bit of it. It’s worthy of all of the five stars I’m giving it.

Next week I’ll be reviewing... After the Golden Age by Carrie Vaughn (another superhero book!)