Book Review: Vicious

By: V.E. Schwab (Victoria Schwab)
Published: Tor
Page Count: 364
Source: Library Copy
Audience/Genre: Adult Fiction/Science Fiction
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ExtraOrdinary (EO) humans not only exist, but they can be created at will, at least that's the premise for Eli's research thesis. Eli intends to use himself as the first test subject and ropes his friend Victor into helping him create a near death experience. The two friends embark on a horrific and experimental hybrid of Flatliners and Heroes to create powers and their own ExtraOrdinary abilities. Talk about playing God...

Eli and Victor Vale (a superhero/super villain name if I've ever heard one) are roommates and friends, both at the top of their class, and both in need of a research thesis. Eli chooses EO's as his topic to get a rise out of their professor, though as the two friends discuss the topic it becomes clear Eli has ulterior motives. He not only believes EO's are real, but though his research hypothesizes that they can be created by surviving a near death experience. And he wants Victor to help him die and be resurrected in order to test his theory. 

Flash forward to the opening of the novel and the friends haven't spoken or seen each other in a decade. Victor has just escaped prison and we find him  digging up a grave in the company of a young EO girl, her dog, and his cellmate. Eli seems to be doing well, though it's not quite clear how his tests went years ago. The story lines that follow are a ride that truly defy explanation. 

Schwab's writing is what truly draws the reader into the story. Her characters are likable and loath-able within the same sentence, and truth be told, I wasn't really sure who the "good guy" was until the very end. (And even now, I'm still not sure.) The host of supporting characters (notable Mitch and Serena) are full of depth and richly detailed personalities that make them as integral to the story as Eli and Victor are. The plot moves at an engaging pace, and there are just enough mysteries to keep the reader guessing, but not enough to make you want to give up. 

Expertly paced and told in a series of flashbacks and present day vignettes, Vicious is among my favorite reads for the year. I absolutely loved it and CANNOT WAIT To talk about it at book club tomorrow! :)

Summary via 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?


  1. Wow, Vicious sounds so unique! It almost seems like a movie plot.


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