Review: Vicious by V. E. Schwab

ViciousSeries: (hopefully) Vicious #1
Published by: Tor
ISBN: 0765335344
ISBN 13: 9780765335340
Published: September 2013
Pages: 364
Format reviewed: eVersion
Site: Author Site
Goodreads: Book Page
Stars: Five out of Five
Lists: Favourites and Recommended

‘Vicious’ by V. E. Schwab (who also writes under the name Victoria Schwab) is hopefully the first book in a series of three or four – this is yet to be announced, though the author has confirmed she’s interested in writing more in the future.

This is a science-fantasy regarding superheroes and supervillains, with highly intelligent, brilliant main characters who, in a way, remind me of college-aged Sherlock and Moriarty – not for the work they do, but for their manner and the way they interact. Just too intelligent for their own good.

One of the best parts about Schwab’s work here is that the characters aren’t black and white. They’re not wholly good or wholly evil, they’re flawed good and complex evil, both at the same time, so if you were to cheer for one side to dominate it would be a hard pick to know whether you’re with or against the hero or the villain. Because neither are either, which is a rare trope to complete successfully.

Victor and Eli used to be best of friends, and through the novel it switches between the past and the present so we are able to see how they once were, and how they are now after 10 years, now that Victor is out of prison and Eli has a mission he’s determined to see through until the end – kill any other super-powered person out there, because even though he is one himself, he sees them all as monstrous beings in a self-rightous, religious determination.

The characters, as well as the wit in the writing, are what make this novel. Schwab’s way with words leaves you even more intrigued than you were before rather than answering any questions you may have had – in a good way! For example:

Victor turned and sunk one of the spades into the earth. He then tossed the other one to Sydney, who unfolded her arms just in time to catch it. The shovel was almost as tall as she was. A few days shy of her thirteenth birthday, and even for twelve and eleven twelfths, Sydney Clarke was small. She had always been on the short side, but it certainly didn’t help that she had 5 barely grown an inch since the day she’d died.

The characters are elegant yet troubled, which is always a winning combination if you’ve heard the Sherlock and/or Loki fans amassing currently. Beyond that we have desperate characters who will stop at nothing, not held back by honour or love, willing to be immersed in violence to get what they want.

warmupIf you’re interested but want to try before you buy, there is a short prequel available on the Tor site which can be found here: Warm Up (Vicious 0.5)

It’s been 297 days since David died–and came back.

He may have survived the avalanche, but the aftermath has been far worse. His wife moved out, taking his son with her, and a devastated David hasn’t left his house since, terrified of the mysterious new power that followed him home from the ill-fated expedition.

After months in seclusion, David’s ready for a fresh start, and ventures out, determined to keep his power in check. But David’s power isn’t the one he needs to worry about.


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