Review: Vicious by V.E. Schwab (Villains #1)


Vicious by VE Schwab // VBC ReviewVicious (Villains #1)
V.E. Schwab
Published: Sept. 24, 2013 (Tor Books)
Purchase: Book Depository or Amazon
Review source: purchased

Reviewed by: Amy

Rating (out of 5): 4 stars

V.E. Schwab immediately caught my interest after reading A Darker Shade of Magic earlier this year. In that regard it was only a matter of time before I got around to reading Vicious. Upon finishing, I acknowledge that V.E. Schwab is on the fast track to becoming a favorite auto-buy author of mine.

Vicious tells the story of college roommates Victor and Eli. Both are super-smart, seemingly privileged, arrogant and generally bored with life. That is, until the day when Eli announces he will be studying the theory of ExtraOrdinary (EO) people for his thesis. Victor, being immediately curious about this subject, embroils himself in Eli’s research, which quickly turns from simply hypothetical into actually creating the right circumstances for making someone an EO.

Being ever the rivals, Eli and Victor jump right into their new theories both in the name of science and in competition with each other. All it takes is one night for everything to turn upside down, and Victor ends up in jail. Fast-forward ten years, Victor has escaped, and he’s out for revenge on his former friend-turned-betrayer: Eli.

Eli, for his part, was horrified to the extreme those ten years ago, both by his actions and the actions of Victor. He’s decided that EOs are too volatile to exist, so he’s taken it upon himself to play judge, jury, and executioner to any and all EOs he can find. Once he learns his nemesis is out, Eli’s new prerogative is ending Victor once and for all.

With both Eli and Victor armed with dangerous powers, they’re on a crash-course for the ultimate reunion.

Reading Vicious gave me the same feeling as when I watched the first (and best) season of Heroes (the original, not the newly rebooted). You have these everyday people who have within themselves power. In Vicious we learn that these “powers” can manifest in near-death experiences and I thought it was interesting how V.E. Schwab incorporated the different aspects of the experiences to have an impact on what form the powers ended up taking on.

It was also very apparent that the words “hero” and “villain” were both conjecture. V.E. Schwab twisted things around so well that I didn’t really know whom to root for. Both Eli and Victor do awful things. In Victor’s need for revenge, he cares only a little about anyone caught in the cross-hairs. And Eli literally views himself as a hero for taking out people who he feels are dangerous EOs (which is every EO to him). The twist is that some of these EOs actually are maniacal (like any normal human beings there are good and bad), yet I think it’s Eli’s god complex and his distaste with himself and his power that keeps him from learning who is a threat and who is not that makes his actions so savage.

What puts me more in Victor’s corner is that we do see a more compassionate side to him. On his way to tracking Eli, Victor comes across Sydney, a little girl with an ExtraOrdinary power of her own. It always seems to me that kids are more attuned to a person’s character. I don’t know if it’s some form of sixth-sense or a subconscious safety mechanism. So when Sydney acknowledges that she feels “safer” with Victor, I believe it too, and even though he retains his hardened exterior, we do see small acts of kindness on his part towards the girl. Although don’t let me confuse you, Victor does his fair share of appalling acts as well.

I really did like the ambiguity of the characters. I’m excited to learn that V.E. Schwab is writing another book in the series. I’ll be interested to see what villainy our “heroes” find themselves up against next.

Sexual content: references to sex

One Response to “Review: Vicious by V.E. Schwab (Villains #1)”

  1. Margaret says:

    This one’s been languishing on my Kindle for a while. I’m glad you liked it. Have to make sure I get to it before the sequel comes out.

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