Vicious: A Book Review

…because having superpowers doesn’t make you a great hero.
Or even good.

Vicious

‘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 Cast:

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.

The Writing:

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.

Ratings:

Plot: 5/5
Characters: 5/5
Writing: 5/5
Ending:5/5
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.”

Steelheart: A book Review

Steelheart (Reckoners, #1)

Book: Steelheart (Reckoners #1)
Author/Authoress:Brandon Sanderson

Cover:2/5
The cover made me think of cheap sci-fi fics. Overdramatic and cheesy. We see that something’s blasted a hole through a metal sheet. Through that hole is a guy facing off something that looks like a cartoonish trash converter. Needless to say, I wasn’t a fan of the cover.

Characters: 4/5

I like how the protagonist was a major geek.Brandon often refers to the fact that David had made the Epics his life study. If knowledge really was the only type of power, David would be the most powerful person in the book. But forewarned is forearmed. The sheer depth and volume of information David has on hand   turns him into a capable and intelligent character. But don’t go around mistaking him for a super genius.  His awkwardness around the love interest and his horrendous metaphors (like a brick made of oatmeal) offer the much needed comic relief.

The Reckoners are an organization dedicated to killing Epics. And each member we meet has their eccentricities and quirks. Cody with his Irish affectations is hilarious and his banter with … everyone is hilarious. Abraham and the prof are wise and mysterious but each in their own ways. The group meshes well together and you can see that (in some cases, really deep down) they all care for each other.

“I trust you with their lives,’ Prof said, still writing, ‘and them with yours. Don’t betray that trust, son. Keep your impulses in check. Don’t just act because you can; act because it’s the right thing to do.

Steelheart is the Villain (notice how I’ve capitialized the V?)From the very beginning of the book we see his terrifying power and exactly how ruthless he can be.  Most of the plot – especially its mystery – is spent on figuring out what exactly could lead to his defeat, but finding this weakness feels impossible. At the end, you’re guaranteed to have a ‘Duh! That was so obvious!’ moment.


Plot:  2/5
(Taken from goodreads.com)
Ten years ago, Calamity came. It was a burst in the sky that gave ordinary men and women extraordinary powers. The awed public started calling them Epics.
But Epics are no friend of man. With incredible gifts came the desire to rule. And to rule man you must crush his wills.
Nobody fights the Epics… nobody but the Reckoners. A shadowy group of ordinary humans, they spend their lives studying Epics, finding their weaknesses, and then assassinating them.
And David wants in. He wants Steelheart—the Epic who is said to be invincible. The Epic who killed David’s father. For years, like the Reckoners, David’s been studying, and planning—and he has something they need. Not an object, but an experience.
He’s seen Steelheart bleed. And he wants revenge.

Honestly, I think the plot’s pretty refreshing as far as plots go. I’ve seen the same dystopian ideas repeated over and over again with their authors trying to claim that they’re ‘original’ but this really is. And the plot actually makes sense. We don’t have characters jumping from one place to another because it’s ‘convenient’. Like I said, it actually makes sense!  Random human beings being upgraded with super powers? That’s new (for a dystopian book; not for a comic book) . Them abusing their powers? Sensible. Them having powers (i.e. the powers don’t manifest is certain scenarios)? That’s a new, sensible plot!

Romance: 2/5
Bad news- It’s an insta love. Good news- the characters don’t realize it. Good news- the girl’s capable, intelligent and seems like an actual person. Bad news- the guy spends the entire book lusting over her. Ew. As you can see, the romance was kind of hit and miss for me. The characters were pretty good but I just wasn’t seeing the chemistry. So it’s a goo thing that I don’t read Young-Adult fiction for the chemistry.

Technical Terms/World building: 3/5

I wasn’t able to keep up with all the terms described in the book. The sheer volume is just too much! David uses a lot of strange terms to classify and categorize the superheroes (epics)  But…(there’s always a but) it didn’t matter too much; I got the basics and I could understand the rest by context. If you’re the kind of person who is driven crazy when there’s a single term on the page you don’t know the exact definition for, you’re going to be flipping back and forth a lot.

On the other hand the world that was built was supremely awesome. In fact I’d say that it pulled up this rating by a whole star!

Plotholes:2/5

David seemed to be quite blind where ever Meghan was concerned. She did a lot of weird things that he never seemed to notice. I wasn’t that surprised by the end of the book; after all, I had figured it all out ages ago. But David was surprised, too surprised for someone who had been given so many clues. (And now when you read this, you’ll be keeping your eyes peeled for the clues)

In addition, David seems too trustful of the Reckoners. Yes, they’re an organisation which has killed super-villains but in the end they’re human. David doesn’t seem to realize that they’re not the idea l he has built up in his head until the end.

Action: 5/5
The action in this book is amazing. But then I guess you’ld expect it to be since it’s a book which targets teenager guys. The weapons are cool and the fight scenes are even cooler. I could literally imagine what they looked like. They were pretty epic (pun-intended). Even more epic, there were a lot of them. I think I got an adrenalin rush just by reading this book.

Overall Rating:4

Action, a plot and awesome characters? What more could a reader want? How about less plotholes and an easier world building? Yes, I liked the book but I felt there was something missing. Maybe whatever was missing will be in the next few books.