Goodreads Synopsis: “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…”
My Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆
Best Paired With: Apothic Dark Wine or English Breakfast Tea
Vicious by V.E. Schwab was originally published in 2013 and rereleased this year with newly designed covers! The first photo is the original, the second photo is the US edition, and the last photo is the UK collector’s edition. The sequel, Vengeful, is coming out this Fall so I began hearing a lot of buzz about the first book in the Villains duology. I read A Darker Shade of Magic and really enjoyed it. After concluding Vicious, V.E. Schwab has officially become an auto-buy author for me.
I first heard about V.E. Schwab on social media, specifically from Twitter. I had never read any of her books but decided to follow her. She seemed witty enough as a writer. While at last year’s Book Con I decided on a whim to wait in her signing line after purchasing my very first copy of A Darker Shade of Magic. I didn’t know anything about the author, except what I knew from Twitter (she really really really hates Earl Grey). Shortly after meeting the author, I read the book in which this infamous quote is derived: “I’d rather die on adventure than live standing still”. I saw that quote everywhere and I’m all about adventure stories. Suffice to say, I was pleased by this adult Harry Potter-esque story. Ever since the Harry Potter series ended, my soul has been longing for portal fantasy with a unique magic system. That’s how I have grown to be a fan of V.E. Schwab.
“There are no good men in this game.”
Vicious has been described as a super villain origin story. It’s essentially Xmen: First Class meets Jessica Jones. This book is not for the faint of heart. There’s a lot of murder and madness. We have two ex-best friends Victor and Eli, who gave themselves superpowers through a series of experiments. I won’t say more on that because this book was so much better not knowing anything. I had zero expectations and was completely surprised from beginning to end!
“Even though we come back, something stays dead. Lost. We forget something of who we are. It’s scary and wonderful and monstrous.”
Both the character development and plot are impressive. V. E. Schwab does an amazing job at giving her villains-to-be goals and motivations so they didn’t feel like cookie cutter characters. The execution of the plot is nearly flawless. The ending had me SHOOK. The author does not miss a beat. If you need any more of an idea of what this book is like, let’s just say that the characters are all very Slytherin.
“It was then she realized that she wasn’t a ghost, or a god. She was a monster.”
Again, I really enjoyed this book knowing next to nothing about it. But I will say that the story has underlying themes of: What is morality? Who is good? What is the nature of evil? These questions aren’t answered for the reader, but rather explored through each character. Nearly every character is self-serving and most of them have a “god-complex”, which I liked. I was fascinated by the motives and reasoning behind each character’s justification for their choices.
I felt that the author did an excellent job at getting down to the psychology of the characters, which made the villains feel even more real. Victor and Eli almost felt too believable making it unnerving to read about them. Since you’re reading through the character’s perspectives, you almost start to sympathize with their goals even though everything about what they do is wrong.
“Those who ally themselves with monsters are little better than monsters themselves.”
Something I thought was worth noting is that if you read A Darker Shade of Magic, you may notice some aspects in Vicious that seemed to carry into the former. For instance, there was a mention of a character that has one blue eye and one black eye. In ADSOM, it’s a natural physical trait. In Vicious, the different colored eyes are fake. I’m not sure if that was the author’s intention.
Vicious is about our inner monsters. The characters are dangerous, no one can be trusted, and there is no light at the end of the tunnel. If you are looking for a light, hopeful read about heroes, this book is not for you. It’s a pretty cold-blooded book, but in an oddly intriguing way.
The sequel, Vengeful, is released on September 25, 2018. GO READ VICIOUS NOW!
- It was a kink in his understanding of Eli, the latter’s reliance on religion.
- “We could be dead,” said Eli. “That’s a risk everyone takes by living.”
- He’d sat and watched, made sure Eliot Cradle was nothing but a corpicle.
- Victor Vale was not a fucking sidekick.
- Victor was the guilty one. The Victor that he knew was dead, replaced by something cold and vicious. A twisted, violent version of himself.
- The absence of pain led to an absence of fear, and the absence of fear led to a disregard for consequence.
- I want to believe that there’s more. That we could be more. Hell, we could be heroes.