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viciousWhat: Vicious (Vicious #1) by V.E. Schwab

Who: Tor

When: September 24th 2013

How: Purchased.

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?

In Vicious, V. E. Schwab brings to life a gritty comic-book-style world in vivid prose: a world where gaining superpowers doesn’t automatically lead to heroism, and a time when allegiances are called into question.

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Vicious is one of those books that really encompasses the art of storytelling. As most of you know, first person present tense is my favourite style of writing when it comes to reading books. I have actually, on occasion, found myself shying away from novels written in the third person. I feel as if that sometimes they are not as capable at capturing the emotions and motives behind a character and their actions. Well, Schwab must be the Queen of third person writing because the style in Vicious was superb.

One of the aspects of books that I critique and touch on in reviews, and that matters to me most as a reader is writing style. And whether or not that style engages me. There was no question of the opposite occurring when reading Vicious. I simply cannot describe to you how perfectly Schwab has told this story. Which brings me to my comment at the beginning of this review. Whilst reading Vicious I truly felt as if Schwab was a narrator in some old school comic book. And I could not be more in love with that. The way she weaved the story through this eccentric and unique writing was absolutely captivating, and left me wanting to read more, more, more of Vicious, and more of Schwab’s writing, as well. If you cannot tell already, the style in which Vicious was told was absolutely breathtaking.

As for the characters. VICTOR VALE. Uhm, someone please call the fiction-ambulance because I just lost my heart. All jokes aside, Victor is one of the most vivid and driven characters that I have had the pleasure of coming across in my fictional adventures. He is like a labyrinth; everything leads to his centre. And his centre is Eli Ever – who I will get to in a minute. The most surprising thing about Vicious is the way it really questions how we define ‘good’ and ‘evil’. And not only how we define it, but what constitutes each side of the coin, as well. Is it the reasons that the person in question has for doing the things they do; or is it how the greater population sees those reasons, and how they perceive them? What is essential good, and what is essential evil?

For example, is Victor a hero because he wants to rid the earth of Eli – who is killing innocent people with powers that could be used for evil? Or is Eli the hero of the story because he is ridding the earth of people with the capability of harming very ordinary humans? Or are they both evil because they both want the deaths of other beings? Or are they simply Victor and Eli, who have their own motivations for doing what they do? I think the latter is more accurate. I don’t think there is a clear definition of good and evil, or right and wrong, or hero and villain in Vicious. I think there are just people, and what they are willing to do to accomplish what they want. And that’s why this book is brilliant.

Back to the characters. Even though each character is only given a handful of chapters (besides Victor and Eli) which are only a handful of pages long, you really get to know them; understand them. I think there’s a kind of special style when an author can achieve that. Where you don’t need to know very last detail about a character to understand why they do what they do. To understand the lengths they will go to; or the things they care about. Every character in Vicious is as vivid as the next, and you are never left wondering what kind of person a character is; because Schwab has introduced you to their very depths.

I simply cannot implore you enough to read Vicious, if only for you to understand what I am talking about in this review. I know that it is one that I will think of often, and most definitely revisit.

© 2014, Chiara @ Books for a Delicate Eternity. All rights reserved.

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Posted on: June 25, 2014 • By: Chiara

11 Responses to Review: Vicious by V.E. Schwab

  1. One of my all time favorite books, seriously! Everything you said I completely agree with. Victoria’s writing style is perfection, and you can’t help but keep reading. Awesome review, Chiara!

  2. Asti says:

    Ooh I have this one but still haven’t read it (though everyone says I MUST). I really want to though, just because it’s got an evil element – even if it’s something makes you question what evil really is. Plus, Victor sounds just like my type of man. Oh, and I haven’t read a Schwab book yet but everyone says she’s amazing. So yes, definitely need to bumpy his one up on my TBR list!

    I have to ask though, I didn’t see what you didn’t like about this book. Was there a specific reason you gave it four stars?

    • Chiara says:

      YOU MUST, ASTI. YOU MUST. Haha. But seriously, it’s a pretty fantabulous book and I definitely really liked it.
      This is my first experience with Schwab, and it makes me really excited to read her other books! I have heard many a great thing about The Archived, to I am pretty keen.
      UNF VICTOR VALE <3

      The only reason I gave it four stars was that at times, the plot was a bit slow, and I am very picky when it comes to giving out a five star. A book has to make me want to wrap it in a blanky and sleep with it for me to give it five stars, haha.

  3. I LOVED Schwab’s writing style in The Near Witch and I can’t wait to read all of her other books as well. I am glad to see that this book was really enjoyable and the story telling style of writing I fell in love with in The Near Witch is also present here.

  4. Beautiful review, Chiara. I’m glad you found a book that was outside of what you normally love. I like finding books like that too. I’ve been hearing a lot of good things about Victoria Schwab. I like how you described these characters as easy to understand without knowing Al the details.

    • Chiara says:

      Thank you so much, Francine!
      It was so great to find this book and love it as much as my usual YA reads, that’s for sure. And it makes me really excited about reading her other books :D

  5. laura says:

    I’ve heard so much about Vicious and also her YA books! I hope I can read this one day. Your review has definitely sold me. And then I’d want to read Archived as well. So glad you loved this one, great review!

    • Chiara says:

      Vicious is the only Schwab novel I have read but I own The Archived and I cannot wait to read it ;D

      OO YAY! I love selling people on books, haha ;D

  6. Pingback: Five Fantastic Things About This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab | Books for a Delicate Eternity

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