Friday, 31 January 2014

Review - Vicious by V. E. 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?

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.

Amazon UK

I’ve not read much sci-fi or superhero-themed fiction, but the premise of Victoria Schwab’s latest novel, Vicious, grabbed me from the start. It sounded utterly unique and, having read both of Schwab’s previous novels – The Near Witch and The Archived – I was already in love with her writing style. So I couldn’t wait to pick up Vicious. This is a story of two former college friends whose attempts to awaken extraordinary powers in themselves turned them into bitter enemies. The novel moves between past and present as the inevitable showdown between the two rivals approaches, and the short chapters and gripping prose kept me glued to the pages.

The characters are all flawed, complex and yet also sympathetic, especially Victor, who is, in a word, a sociopath. Through his and Eli’s experiences, the author explores the definitions of ‘heroes’ and ‘villains’ in a way that makes the concept of superpowers seem almost scarily realistic. All the characters have definable motives, be it revenge, obsession or the belief that they are in the morally right. Dark, twisty and compelling, this is a fantastic book and a great start to my 2014 reading list!

Rating: *****

1 comment:

  1. This was blurbed by F. Paul Wilson? Hmm. I haven't read this yet because other reviews I've read have been a bit more negative than yours. But I'm glad that you enjoyed it. Thanks for the review!