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Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Book Review: Vicious by V. E. Schwab

By: V.E. Schwab
Hardcover, 368 pages
Expected publication: September 24th 2013 by Tor
ISBN13: 9780765335340

A masterful, twisted tale of ambition, jealousy, betrayal, and superpowers, set in a near-future world.

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?

This is a dark book, nothing like the YA series that Victoria Schwab has out right now. Vicious is more of an X-Men meets Clive Barker style of book. What starts out as a story about 2 college roommates, turns into something much darker and deeper than most friendships can go.

Eli and Victor are in a class discussing what their thesis papers will be about, and Eli chooses to do his paper on EO’s (Extra Ordinary’s), where Victor’s choice is more level minded and dealing with adrenaline effects on the body. During the research phase of their papers, Eli discovers that EO’s are “created” from NDE’s (Near Death Experiences) and a traumatic event. Victor starts to egg Eli on about actually testing the theory out to see if this is in fact true.

The end results are somewhat surprising; since it seems that your last thoughts before you die is what triggers the EO ability. Each person that does survive the NDE will show the signs of different EO abilities. Some can carry bad luck with them; some can have the power to manipulate or thoughts and actions and others can bring the dead back to life.

Eli has taken it upon himself to be the one to choose who is worthy to stay alive and use their new found abilities, and those who should be killed because they are an abomination of God. Victor has found a way to trigger his own EO abilities, but at the expense of a colleague, which in turn places Victor in prison. Victor has time to think about what he did and how to get back at Eli.

I found 
the timeline of the story very interesting because it was broken down between the past and the present day, all leading up to the final confrontation between Eli and Victor. There were also some side characters in the story which I found very likable.

There is a quote at the end of the book that I feel speaks volumes for this story and just how the human thought process works when it comes to choosing if you are doing things for the right reason or for the wrong reason.

“When no one understands, that’s usually a good sign that you’re wrong.”

If you are looking for an adult book with no romance, very little profanity, and a lot of action and violence this is the book for you. I will most likely be reading this for a second or even third time later on this year or going into 2014.

4 1/2 Sheep

Guest Reviewer: Danielle Duffield

About the Author:
I am the product of a British mother, a Beverly Hills father, and a southern upbringing. Because of this, I have been known to say “tom-ah-toes”, “like”, and “y’all”. I also suffer from a wicked case of wanderlust, made worse by the fact that wandering is a good way to stir up stories. When I’m not haunting Paris streets or trudging up English hillsides, I’m usually tucked in the corner of a coffee shop, dreaming up monsters.

My first YA novel, THE NEAR WITCH, a dark original fairy tale, debuted with Disney*Hyperion in August 2011, and is now out in paperback.

My next YA novel, THE ARCHIVED, is the first book in a new supernatural series about a world where the dead are shelved like books, and it hits stores January 2013, also with Disney*Hyperion.

My first adult novel, VICIOUS, about two brilliant and highly disturbed pre-med students who set out to generate their own superpowers and end up mortal enemies, is out in hardcover from Tor September 2013.

I have more books coming out in 2014, but I’ll get to those later.

These days, when someone asks me what I do when I’m NOT writing, I just kind of laugh nervously. But in truth, on the odd occasion I’m not typing away, I’m probably baking cookies, or watching BBC shows, or wandering. (See how we came full circle, there?)


  1. Sounds down right yummy to me. Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us. :)

  2. Great review, Danielle--it looks like a terrific book.

  3. Last thoughts before you die? ahhhhhhhh I have to read this like yesterday!!