Book Review: Vicious by V.E. Schwab

Posted January 2, 2014 by Kara in book review, Kara / 14 Comments

Book Review: Vicious by V.E. SchwabVicious by V. E. Schwab
Published by Tor on September 24th, 2014
Genres: adult, science fiction
Pages: 304
Format: Hardcover
Source: Publisher
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A masterful tale of ambition, jealousy, desire, and superpowers.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.“A dynamic and original twist on what it means to be a hero and a villain. A killer from page one…highly recommended!” —Jonathan Maberry, New York Times bestselling author of Marvel Universe vs The Avengers and Patient Zero One of Publishers Weekly's Best Fantasy Books of 2013At the publisher's request, this title is being sold without Digital Rights Management software (DRM) applied.

The thing I love the most about Victoria Schwab as a author is definitely her writing style. It flows, it’s gorgeous but not overtly purple, and it’s compulsively readable. It’s also incredibly atmospheric and she is an expert at conveying tone through words. This is a brutal book, for the characters and for the reader, and it also transfers to the voice of the narrative.

I didn’t have a lot of time to read while I was making my way through Vicious, and I had to keep putting it down for other tasks (editing). So it’s hard for me to tell, if the circumstances were different, whether this would truly have been an unputdownable book for me. I do probably think so. It’s a compelling story and it’s definitely a thinking book. Ultimately it’s a revenge story but there is much more to it than that. It’ a story about morality, mortality, and good vs. evil and everything in between. It will make you question and wonder, and though there i an antagonist, no one is completely good or bad, much like real life. 
It’s a brilliant book technically, and it’s not often that you come across an author as skilled as Schwab. There are multiple layers to this story, it weaves in and out expertly, and there are so many subtle nuances and things that can be missed if you aren’t paying attention. Short chapters, different POVs, flashbacks, all these techniques are utilized, and where I would normally criticize that there’s too much going on, that is simply not the case. You don’t even NOTICE that you are in a different POV when it switches because the book flows so damn well. How is that even possible? It’s like almost every other book I have read pales in comparison to the talent I saw here.
But in spite of all the excellence, I can’t give it the full five stars because I lacked an emotional connection to the book. I’m not sure why that is because everyone else seems to have connected to it, but while I was in awe of the story, the characters, and all the skill presented here, I wasn’t attached to them. I was excited about the conclusion that I knew was coming; I wanted to see what happened and how it was handled, but that is the extent of what I felt. For the record, I loved the ending so that wasn’t the issue either. So basically, this is an epic, epic book that I think EVERYONE should read, but in order for me not to mark it down for anything, it has to be a perfect book for me. That includes an emotional connection. 
I still am a huge fan of Victoria Schwab. I will read anything she puts out. I guess I need to read The Archived next.


14 responses to “Book Review: Vicious by V.E. Schwab

  1. I didn’t enjoy Schwab’s The Near Witch and thanks to love triangle rumors, I’ve avoided The Archived. I do, however, want to read this one. I’ve had it on my Kindle for awhile, so I really need to just read it already. Wonderful review, Kara!(:

  2. I do kind of see what you mean about connecting with the characters. They are larger than life and not down to earth at all. But I adored Sydney, she was one of my favorite characters of the year. I gave this 5 stars but mainly because I was stunned at how well executed this book is.

  3. Yay I’m glad to hear this one is good! I love that you say it’s complex and about morality. That’s something I’m really interested in. I loved the writing in The Near Witch too, so I can’t wait to read this one!

    -P.E. @ The Sirenic Codex

  4. GAH, I really need to get around to reading this. It sounds like this one would suit me better than The Archived, so I think I’ll read this one first, then The Archived. If I like this, that is. I have heard great things about her writing styles and plotting, but it’s a shame you weren’t able to connect to the characters emotionally. I hate when that holds you back from loving a book fully, you know?

    • Yeah, that’s the way I am doing it too and I’m glad I decided to do it in that order. I think you probably WILL connect with the characters since I seem to be the only one so far who hasn’t.

  5. I’ve been wanting to read this since I heard about it and especially since the blogosphere has basically fallen all over it, but I haven’t been able to find one! The book is evading me when everyone I know is praising it to heaven and back. Rude book! But yeah, you make it sound very, very good and like something I might be into, Kara. Maybe I should try out Schwab’s YA too.

    • Do you mean like you haven’t been able to find one in a bookstore? I am actually curious as to what you would think of her YA. I hope you would like it but I’m not sure!

  6. I kind of dismissed this one immediately because the cover was so strange to me… I didn’t even notice all the intricate detailing of the background. Everyone seems to really love this one so I’ll have to check this one out someday. Great review!

  7. YAY! You liked it! This was one of my 2013 favorites. II see what you’re saying about the lack of emotional connection, I’ve definitely read way more feels reads, but this one was just so complex it blew me away and got the full 5 stars.

    • Yeah, it was really close, Meg. I Just save that 5 star rating for a book that makes me feel ALL the feels which is why I give it out so rarely. Technically it was one of the best books I have read in a long time.

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