Genre: Adult, Fantasy, Science Fiction, Paranormal Publication.Date September 24th 2013 Pages: 368 Published By: TOR Books Website V.E.Schwab VICIOUS on Goodreads My review copy: Review copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
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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.
Victor was out. Victor was free.
And Victor was coming for Eli - just as he'd promised he would. He sunk the shovel into the cold earth with a satisfying thud.
"Well, when you wonder something," said Eli, "doesn't that mean part of you wants to believe it? I think we want to prove things, in life, more than we want to disprove them. We want to believe.
"Did you know," said Victor, skimming a book from prison library on anatomy (he thought it particularly foolish to endow inmates with a detailed sense of the positions of vital organs, but there you go), "that when you take away a person's fear of pain, you take away their fear of death? You make them, in their own eyes, immortal. Which of course they're not, but what's the saying? We are all immortal until proven otherwise?"
But he didn't only cause pain; Victor also took it away. He'd learned to gift painlessness, to trade it. Amazed by the lengths men would go to avoid any form of suffering. Victor had become a dealer in a drug only he could provide.
"A note for your thesis," he said as his friend lay there, gasping. "You thought our powers were somehow a reflection of our nature. God playing with mirrors, but you're wrong. It's not about God. It's about us. The way we think. The thought that's strong enough to keep us alive. To bring us back. You want to know how I know?" He turned his attention to the table, looking for something new and sharp. "Because all I could think about when I was dying was the pain." He cranked the dial up in his mind, and let the room fill with Eli's screams. "And how badly I wanted to make it stop."
"Sydney, look at me." He rested his hands on the car roof and leaned in. "No one is going to hurt you. Do you know why?" She shook her head, and Victor smiled. "Because I'll hurt them first."
Victoria Schwab's first endeavour into the world of adult fiction results in a fascinating meditation on life, death, and everything in between. Gloriously dark and morbidly funny, Vicious explores themes of vengeance, jealousy, damnation, redemption and deadly ambition. It's a superhero story like you've never seen it before, one that will make you question hero/villain stereotypes and wonder about the nature of good and evil. What makes a hero a hero? How do you tell the good guy from the monster? And isn't it all just a matter of perspective?
I'd say I thoroughly enjoyed this book, but that would be a lie. It's literally the best book I've read in the past few months, if not years. It's an ambitious project, and yet Schwab totally nailed it. This book will not only entertain you with its thick, dark humor and sharp dialogues, it will change the way you think and feel about certain things and subjects forever. It's an emotionally engaging, highly dramatic and incredibly compelling read - yes - but it's also more than just that. It's intelligent and intellectually stimulating, filled with memorable quotes and spot-on observations. You'll be thinking about it long after you turn the last page.
The construction of the story is masterful in itself. Two timelines; one in the past, when it all began, and one in the present, when it was all about to come to an end. These two timelines are brilliantly weaved together and tightly intertwined with each other, slowly peeling off the layers, building up the tension and leading up to a phenomenal, brilliant and unforgettable crescendo ending.
The characters are all utterly brilliant. From the arrogant, ambitious and hard-to-read Victor, to the self-absorbed, self-righteous and equally - if not more - ambitious Eli, all the characters show uncommon complexity and sharpness. They're colorful, vivid and beautifully fleshed out. And they can't easily be pegged as either good or bad, as they're all equally broken inside and driven by questionable motives. Of course, as we read further into the story, it becomes obvious which one of them we want to root for, and which one is completely unhinged, and therefore truly dangerous, but the line between good and evil remains blurry all throughout, leaving it up to us to decide whose side we'll take.
The supporting cast is no less brilliant than the main characters. Mitch, Sydney, even Serena, Dominic and Dol - they're all very essential to the plot and they all leave a footprint in our hearts. I loved the unusual relationship between Victor and Mitch, and Victor and Sydney. They made an awesome team, even though they were all so different from each other and seemingly had nothing in common. I also really appreciated that Victoria took the time to show us a little bit of each character's back-story, it really made the whole story come together nicely.
As I mentioned before, I really loved the dialogues. They were so vibrant and witty, oozing dark humor and awesomeness that made me love all the characters even more. Below are a few examples.
"Mitchell," said Victor. "Tell Sydney what you were in prison for."
"Hacking," he said cheerfully.
Sydney laughed. "Seriously? I had you pegged as more of a beat-someone-to-death-with-their-own-arm type."
"Where the hell did that dog come from?" asked Mitch.
"I get to keep him," said Sydney.
"Is that blood?"
"I shot him," said Victor, searching through his papers.
"Why would you do that?" asked Mitch, closing the laptop.
"Because he was dying."
"Then why isn't he dead?"
"Because Sydney brought him back."
Mitch turned to consider the small blond girl in the middle of their hotel living room. "Excuse me?"
Her eyes went to the floor. "Victor named him Dol," she said.
"It's a measurement of pain," explained Victor.
"Well, that's morbidly appropriate," said Mitch. "Can we get back to the part where Sydney resurrected him?
"Look, Sydney, there's something you need to understand about Victor--"
"He's not a bad man," she said.
"There are no good men in this game," said Mitch.
Overall, Vicious is just an absolute must-read for anyone and everyone out there. It's a fantastically written, meaningful story, filled with heartbreak, pain and wisdom. I highly recommend this book.
WHAT YOU CAN WIN:a Rafflecopter giveaway
1 copy of VICIOUS by V.E. Schwab
RUNS TILL: October 31st
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1 copy of VICIOUS by V.E. Schwab
RUNS TILL: October 31st
OPEN TO: 13+, US/Canada
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