Monday, May 19, 2014

Book Review: Vicious by V.E. Schwab

Vicious by V.E. Schwab
Vicious Series #1
Tor Books, 14 October 2013
368 Pages
3 Stars
Barnes & Noble; Book Depository; Goodreads

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?

So many Booktubers have been raving about this book by V.E. Schwab lately, so I grabbed it to read during Bout of Books.  It was a really easy, fast read that took about a day, so it was perfect for a read-a-thon.

I had a really really good time reading this book. I liked the characters, pacing, and how it jumped around in time. I really enjoyed the ambivalence I felt about the two main characters. On the one hand, I totally understood Eli, but I couldn’t support him at all. And I thought Victor was so sinister, but I couldn’t hate him. I found myself not knowing which team I was on, how I wanted the book to end, and I loved that. It also made it so that I was unsure how the book would end. If neither characters are good, who will win? 

I do wish that each character’s background had been a little more fleshed out, especially Eli’s. There are hints of abuse, but besides that, we know nothing about him pre-college. I would have liked to see what created the duality in him even more he became an EO. And with Victor, I’d like to know more about him than just that he likes to black out his parents’ books. 

I also felt like the initial motivation behind Victor’s vengeance was weak. Yes, there were tons of reveals of how his appreciation for Eli was mixed with hatred and jealousy, but it should have taken so much more to tip him over the edge than just Eli calling the cops. When he suddenly decided that violence was the best route, I was totally perplexed. So either the event that solidified his hate should have been more epic OR the author needed to make it more apparent that, really, he hated Eli all along, but there was a thin dam that held it back until that “something” inside him disappeared after his NDE.

One critique I’ve heard about this book is that, even though it’s adult fiction, the style smacks more of YA. If YA was categorized by writing style rather than content, this might be true. But it didn’t bother me at all. I found it descriptive and intelligent without being exclusive or pretentious.

I give this 3 stars. It was entertaining and well-written, but could have been better developed. Another reason I’m not giving it 5 stars is because it didn’t really make me think about deeper issues. It was a fun read, but it didn’t make me question or reexamine anything, which I think the best books always do.