REVIEW | Vicious

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V E Schwab

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I love evil characters.

V. E. Schwab’s Vicious is the dark and magical story between two college best friends, and the discovery that drives them apart.
Eli and Victor were drawn to each other’s relentless ambition and intelligence. The two friends teamed up for their senior year research project which explored the conditions under which a person with extra ordinary powers can be created. Wanting to keep their discoveries secret, they are left to experiment on each other and things don’t go quite the way they expect. Jump 10 years into the future and Victor is just getting out of jail, full of hatred and ready to get bloody revenge on Eli.

The concept behind Vicious sounded very cool. I love stories from the perspective of the

Vicious - V E Schwab

antagonist, like Queen Levana from Marissa Meyer’s Fairest, or Adelina from Marie Lu’s Young Elites series. Aside from being unconventional, I feel that these stories are always more interesting because there is often a degree of moral ambiguity, and Vicious was just full to the brim of difficult choices and situations.

Plenty of humans were monstrous, and plenty of monsters knew how to play at being human.

Vicious is told from a number of alternating points of view, including our main characters, Eli and Victor, as well as some minor characters. The story jumps between the present and the past which worked really well with the nature of the story. Victor and Eli start as good friends in college, then in the next chapter they’re hunting each other down and trying to kill each other. The reader is then left to put the pieces together as a new aspect of their history is revealed with every chapter.

The absence of pain led to an absence of fear, and the absence of fear led to a disregard for consequence

This worked really well in the first half of the book – jumping back and forth in time, uncovering bit by bit felt very suspenseful. However, unfortunately, it didn’t really help towards the latter half. At some point, I felt like I knew enough of their backstory to continue on with what exciting things were happening in the present and the book kept jumping back to the past that I didn’t care about, and ultimately didn’t contribute to the story at all. It was a little jarring to have action packed, cliff-hanger scenes that ended abruptly, and were then followed by slower scenes about the boys’ past.
While I did enjoy the overarching story, I did find myself skimming between major plot points because I just couldn’t sink into the atmosphere. I felt the same when reading Schwab’s A Darker Shade of Magic – I think I just don’t get along with her writing.

Every character in Vicious was a complete badass. I especially loved Eli and Victor, who both totally knew that they were being evil but stuck to their guns anyway. There’s nothing worse than a character who lacks conviction, and thankfully these boys were bad to the bone until the very end.

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