Title: Vicious (Vicious #1)
Author: V.E. Schwab
Genre: Adult, Science Fiction, Fantasy
Published: September 24th 2013
My Rating: 5/5 Stars
Synopsis from 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
First line:“Victor readjusted the shovel on his shoulder and stepped gingerly over an old, half-sunken grave.”
My Thoughts (contains spoilers)
I think I probably just found my favourite book read in 2016 and we’re not even one month in yet – that is how much I love it.
Okay, back to the review. This story is revolved around two main characters – Eli and Victor – who are best friends and flatmates at Lockland university. Both are science students and in their final year of studies, deciding upon a thesis topic. Eli choses EOs – or ExtraOrdinaries – and Victor decides to study adrenaline. Eli’s thesis choice is mocked at first, seeming ridiculous and like a joke, but as his research begins turning up real findings, Victor’s interest is peaked and he begins helping his friend. Instead of just researching if EOs are real and how to find them, the pair discover how to actually create them. This results in Eli and Victor conducting experiments on themselves in the hopes of turning into ExtraOrdinaries. These experiments were a success.
Blast to ten years in the future; Victor’s just broke out of jail and is hell bent on revenge for his once best friend.
This story is filled with suspense, the reader only being granted small fragments of knowledge at a time. It’s almost like a mystery – trying to piece everything together. This continues throughout the novel and is aided by the author’s writing style. The perspective and time period of the story shifts often; one chapter we’re inside Eli’s head ten years ago and the next, we are witnessing Victor’s actions in the now. This was very effective, especially at the beginning of the book when in one scene we were witnessing the two main characters as friends and in the next, Victor’s lust for revenge due to a series of currently unknown events. I was constantly thinking, what happened? How did Victor end up in prison? Where’s Eli and what did he do to evoke such hatred in Victor?
The answers are slowly revealed throughout the story as we find out that the duo discovered and were successful in creating EOs. Eli’s talent is regeneration – he heals, never able to die and does not age. On the other hand, Victor can create or dispel pain within himself, and others. I thought this idea was absolutely genius and so original, especially the process to create an EO and how each person’s talent depends on themselves and what they were thinking in the moments before they died. I also found it incredibly interesting how people who die and come back are then changed, like there is a hollowness or darkness inside of them. That their gift, whatever it is, comes with a cost.
I’ve never read a book like this, one involving anti-hero’s with such depth of character and rationality – throughout the story I almost found their actions reasonable because I understood the logic behind the decisions being made. Even though the actions being undertaken by Eli and Victor were horrific, like murder.
I should probably talk a little bit about the supporting characters now. I won’t mention Serena too much because I wasn’t very fond of her due to the fact that she turned on her sister (even though she did let her escape towards the end of the story). On the other hand, I absolutely adore Sydney. I thought her whole desire to be like her sister at first was totally relatable because we all have that one person who we look up to and admire. I also like her strong character and even though she’s only young, she still makes good decisions – especially with her gift of bringing people back from the dead (she only wants to give the gift to people who deserve it). Moving on, I quite like Mitch as well. I feel like he grounds Victor a lot and brings him down a few notches when he’s acting crazy or is about to do something incredibly stupid. Overall though, what I like most about Sydney and Mitch is the effect they have on Victor. They make this seemingly cold and un-emotional character care for them and have a need to protect them – they make him more human.
Lastly, I just want to mention how freaking amazing I thought that ending was! It wrapped everything up nicely and because the story ended the way it started, it made it feel like the story went full circle and left me feeling completely satisfied. I also absolutely love how the ending highlights that Victor couldn’t have enacted his revenge on his own, he needed a little help from his friends – something that Eli doesn’t have.