Monday, 17 March 2014

Vicious by V.E. Schwab

Vicious
V.E. Schwab
Tor
[September 24, 2013]
Acquired at BEA

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.'

Vicious was...unexpected.

I've read all of Victoria Schwab's currently available books besides The Unbound, so I knew her imagination could get dark and twisted and that she's kind of a genius, but I think Vicious demonstrates that more than her other books. 

I also think that Vicious really highlights the fullness of people. Victor and Eli weren't the greatest of people, but you could still cheer for Victor and feel for both of them. Every character, no matter how bad they might be deemed, still had this side that was understandable and relatable. It brought back the idea that people are not good or bad, but somewhere in between. That moral ambiguity is something I've gushed about before, and this is another prime example.

As usual, Schwab's writing is fantastic and beautiful and engaging. The pages keep turning, no matter what else is on your to do list. The story itself is also incredible and so creative. I've found that Schwab's books are always unique and full of imagination. They're unlike anything else I've ever read. They never fit in neat little boxes or categories or genres and I love that.

Despite all this, I don't think I ever fully connected with this book. It kind of reminded me of reading The Near Witch where it had all of the right elements, but I just didn't click with it. I still recommend the crap out of it and respect how incredible it is, but I don't know that I personally can say I fell in love with it or that it's a genuine favorite. Maybe it was bad timing, maybe it was because it wasn't what I thought it would be, maybe it was just me, but I don't love Vicious.

I still think you all should read it. It's well written and interesting and an excellent look at humans and how we think and work and operate. The characters are fascinating and the style the book is written it keeps you on your toes. It's a really good book to read, it just didn't fit with me perfectly.

--Julie

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