…because having superpowers doesn’t make you a great hero.
Or even good.
‘Vicious’ by V. E. Schwab (the pseudonym Victoria Schwab writes under when the book is less young adult and more gritty, dark and intense) is one of the most thought-provoking books I’ve ever read.To be honest, I’m nervous about doing justice to the book in this book review.
My problem: How do you capture about 500+ words of sheer awesomeness in about 500 words?
Story in short
Two pre-med students. Best friends and room mates. Brilliant, arrogant, ambitious.
Hidden jealousies. Rivalry.
Then- a thesis.
A theory that works.
An experiment that works too well.
And now, they both have super-powers.
But there’s something vitally human missing in them too.
Ten years an d a jailbreak later-
Two sociopaths- each convinced they’re less evil.
Two sociopaths and their superpwers.
Two sociopaths determined to see each other end.
The question is: How does it all end?
The more important question is: Who are you rooting for?
The whole cast of this production is certifiable…If the certificate was for the asylum, of course.
Right from the villain to the ‘protagonist’ to the supporting characters (read: sidekicks or lackeys) all of them are deeply and intensely insane.
Eli who goes by the name Eli Ever (he likes alliteration, folks) is firmly convinced that God gave him the task of
killing removing ( sorry, killing just sounds so messy) all the other extraordinary people (people with superpowers) because they’re plain WRONG.
His sidekick/love interest/ manipulator (God only knows who or what she is), Serena hates the thought of her little sister being ‘wrong’ so much, she’s willing to have her boyfriend murder her (the sister that is).
The aforementioned sister’s name is Sydney. She’s a necromancer who looks up to Victor with almost puppy-like devotion. The hero-worship (haha, no pun intended) is seriously unhealthy.
Our protagonist Victor (riiiight… the guy who has no compunctions about killing, torturing and lying to achieve his goals) is out to ‘get’ the villain. The two had a serious bromance going on, but becoming EO’s totally killed that.
Matt, Victor’s friend (not his bodyguard) is a buff,non-violent, criminal hacker (trust me, he really is). He’s the closest to normal but come on, if he’s hanging out with this group he can’t totally be right in the head.
Vicious is hands down the creepies book I’ve read in the last 365 days. It surpassed the Madman’s Daughter and even Unwind on the Shivers-Down-My-Spine Scale. And I loved every single second of it. Maybe even every fucking word.
Part of what makes this book so compellingly creepy is the fact that it’s written in 3rd person POV with several flashbacks. Normally, I shun these things like I would shun the plague or a misogynist. But not only did Mrs. Schwab make it work- she actually made me admire the writing style ( I am so jealous. I wish I could write like her).
The third person POV and the flashbacks gave us just enough information for us to get a good idea of the background and thoughts of the characters while allowing us to be detached enough to identify with ALL the characters; I’m a bit horrified actually that I could relate to people so mentally disturbed.
No young adult author (although I would hesitate to call this book young adult since there’s all of one character who’s below the age of 20 and she’s 12) is as good as Victoria Schwab in hitting that perfect balance between lyrical and efficient. Take this quote for example:
…something about Eli was decidedly wrong. He was like one of those pictures full of small errors, the kind you could only pick out by searching the image from every angle, and even then, a few always slipped by. On the surface, Eli seemed perfectly normal, but now and then Victor would catch a crack, a sideways glance, a moment when his roommate’s face and his words, his look and his meaning, would not line up. Those fleeting slices fascinated Victor. It was like watching two people, one hiding in the other’s skin. And their skin was always too dry, on the verge of cracking and showing the color of the thing beneath.
Holy crap, right?
Off the top of my head, I can’t think of anyone else who’s so supremely good with the plot twist. Mrs. Schwab has a tendency to write out a huge build up which has you on the edge of your seat and forces you to draw some pretty obvious conclusions. Then, she suddenly yanks you out of your seat by refuting everything you thought was true with a plot-twist. It’s brilliant and kind of sadistic (trust me, I don’t use these words lightly after reading this book) .
Vicious is Megamind (the movie), Steelheart and American Psycho on stereoids. It creeped me out totally and absolutely.
But then, I loved it totally and absolutely too.
Plotholes: I’d have liked a more hashed out backstory for Eli but other than that, this story was flawless.
Would I read another book by this author: Are you kidding me? Yes!
Overall Rating: 5/5
Pearls of Wisdom from the Book:
“When no one understands, that’s usually a good sign that you’re wrong.”
“The moments that define lives aren’t always obvious. They don’t scream LEDGE, and nine times out of ten there’s no rope to duck under, no line to cross, no blood pact, no official letter on fancy paper. They aren’t always protracted, heavy with meaning.”
“―We could be dead- said Eli.
―That‘s a risk everyone takes by living.”
“Anger flared through him, but anger was unproductive so he twisted it into pragmatism while he searched for a flaw.”
“I don’t want to be forgotten.”