Vicious by V.E. Schwab

23717497Victor 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?

Vicious was my first venture into Schwab-landia. It was one of those hype books that I wanted to give a go at. I got the book ages ago and I didn’t bother to read the blurb again before I started reading so I was feeling my way through the book ‘in the dark’.  Because of the title I was expecting something more sinister. I know, I know- killing people is sinister, but we’re talking about a book here. Sinister is truly a wide definition with endless painful opportunities so maybe this was the reason I kept expecting something more to happen. Something truly explosive.

“Did you know,” said Victor, skimming through a book from the prison library on anatomy (he thought it particularly foolish to endow inmates with a detailed sense of the positions of vital organs, but there you go), “that when you take away a person’s fear of pain, you take away their fear of death? You make them, in their own eyes, immortal. Which of course they’re not, but what’s the saying? We are all immortal until proven otherwise?”

While it was an enjoyable read for me, the book doesn’t really have those ‘stfu‘ kind of moments. Flashbacks from 10 years ago, last night, etc keep plugging the story on towards the end. Towards an end that one can see coming. While this book didn’t manage to blow my socks off in terms of twists and revelations, I did enjoy the idea of EOs (ExtraOrdinaries) and I managed to find a certain appreciation for our main characters, Eli and Vic, as well.

So… we have Victor and Eli. The ambition and desire, as proudly promised on the cover of the book, were well and truly executed. They become college roommates and hit it off well because in ways, they’re very similar to each other. Their relationship dynamic was an interesting one, I kept wondering how much of their friendship was really based on finding that one true, solid friend in another; or were they always, from day one, just seeing themselves in the other and trying to be better, more. It’s like a case of Vic finding someone to truly respect in Eli and then using this respect as a means to get one over, to always be better. It was like a symbiosis where every action, word spoken and thought was only done for the sake of one’s benefit. It was a truly fascinating one for me.

It all starts off by having to write a thesis for college. Naturally, because the two guys are who they are, theory is only for pussies. They have this need to be better, they need to achieve more, always more, so there’s no surprise there that they become the guinea pigs for their own theories. Big load of pills, alcohol, bathtub full of ice, epinephrine, electric shocks and plenty of CPR and ta-daa we got ourselves two fresh EOs. That’s it you think? No… no that’s not it at all! There’s a girl involved, Victor’s prison sentence, Mitch, Sydney and her sister Serena, a whole bunch of cops and Eli’s sense of self-importance. A big pot of ‘holy shiz’ if you ask me.

In terms of characters I thought they all had their role to play. No one was there just to fill an empty space. I really liked Sydney and Mitch and hope to read more about those to in the next book. Serena was an indecisive weirdo, however. <spoiler>I really hate when people don’t argue back to be but I still use my ability to get my way.” Serena, dear? Go jump off a roof, idiot!</spoiler>

I may have liked Eli if he had a better reason for doing all that he did, but religious nutcases are my most loved pet peeve when it comes to books. They make for good stories but I always bristle with so much disdain! I guess I’m a  masochist like this, enjoying the characters that I hate?! There was no changing Eli’s mind so essentially whatever happened to him, I was on board with.

Eli didn’t enjoy killing. He did quite like the moment after. The glorious quiet that filled the air as his broken bones healed and his torn skin closed, and he knew that God approved.

Victor, I quite enjoyed. He was given this redeeming quality with the way he was with Sydney. (Sydney by the way, is a pretty big chess piece in the story). Victor was spurred on by various motivations: jealousy, need for acceptance, need to be better and eventually, the need for revenge. He was a bit ‘still waters run deep’ kind of character with possibly some mommy-issues and I loved what he did with the books and black sharpies.

“No, Sydney,” he said. “I need you to stay here.”

“Why?” she asked.

“Because you don’t think I’m a bad person,” he said. “And I don’t want to prove you wrong.”

What I liked: How EOs came to be, <spoiler>the inclusion of NDEs as the bridge in between normal v EO human</spoiler>. I thought each EOs ability being created by their innermost fears and desires at their final moments was a sound touch. I also liked that being an EO didn’t just come Free of Charge. The fact that there is something humane missing in an EO just paves way for those inner battles and monologues and ponderings by our characters. It’s the musing over what and who they are that makes this so fascinating for me. It makes the story a bit deeper than just brainless killing/survival storyline. In fact, I like the character’s psychological qualities more than their abilities. Strange.

I was surprised at how well I dealt with the flashbacks. While they came fast and in short enough paragraphs, the story didn’t seem to suffer for it. The addition of Mitch as a non-EO made him a good addition in contrast but there’s still something about him that I am eager to find out about.

Next in the series? It’ll be interesting to see how the story progresses. There are some secrets among our ‘merry band’ of EOs. Plus, that very merry band of EOs is now made up of characters that have quite unique and huge abilities which can deliver a truly powerful next book.

My rating: 4 stars. I really liked it. There were small minor issues, like some repetition of facts (in quite a few paragraphs when someone was in pain they were feeling sick. Yes, I know, it’s a physiological outcome of pain but reading about how someone was on the verge of puking every now and again got old real fast). As mentioned, I wasn’t totally mind blown and that’s mainly because there is no real big revelation so the foreboding I had during reading the first half of the book weren’t delivered on. Overall though- Nice! Very nice!


  1. Schwab-landia, I like it! My only foray into Schwab-landia was with This Savage Song which I read last year.

    Great review, it’s not really a book I’m intersted in but you make it sound an enjoyable read.

    And……stfu, I’m presuming it means what I think it does (shut the f#ck up) and I’m shocked Liz, what happened to the swearing, instead we get an abbreviation!😂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Did you like This Savage Song? I have that on my kindle as well to test out… well.. I can just find your review on Goodreads or blog as well I presume?! 😀 haha, stop being Lazy Liis…

      It’s an okay book, Vicious… nothing overly fluffy and dark enough.. but could have been soooo much darker considering it’s an adult book… anyway, moany moany! 🙂

      haha.. yeah… I guess I was scarred from that time I got told off for using ‘shit’ in my review so I;’m being cautious… I’d love to let it rip though but… eh… I don’t know…

      Liked by 1 person

      • Who told you off for using sh#t in a review?? I thought swearing in posts was allowed, just have to be careful in comments as I don’t want to end up in spam jail!😂

        I liked This Savage Song, I enjoyed Schwab’s writing and the lack of romance, it’s got a male and female lead duo and thankfully Schwab stays away from the romantic elements. I got the book from Titan, it’s not a book I’d have bought as I didn’t think it’d be for me but I was interested in Schwab as there’s so much hype around her that I wanted to see what she was like and I enjoyed the book, it’s not long, you’d probably thrash it in a couple of days.😂

        Liked by 1 person

        • ah, the shit saga was a while back now… public domains and young eyes, etc etc… needless to say, I felt like I was eviler than Joffrey! anyway… I can hold back in reviews… I’ll always get my share of swearing in real life anyway, so I don’t feel like I have Profanity Frustration! 😀

          Ah, cool… you like TSS… interesting… I shall pop it up a notch in the next to read list 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

          • Oh man, no one is or was eviler than Joffrey, he was annoying evil twerp to the extreme!😀

            Ha, profanity frustration, I like it, I to get my swearing in in real life, right potty mouth at times, swearing usually incorporated into inappropriate comments, just like blogging!😂


  2. I’ve never been to Schwab-landia but I’m intrigued. I’ll definitely keep your points in mind if I read this one. I’m so afraid of the hype around the author, but your fantastic review makes it okay not to love it as much as everybody else 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This book has been literally forced into my TBR by my friends , so i guess your review makes me accept the forced addition .

    I think unlike you I’m a Sadist when it comes to horrible characters , Like with Joffrey , oh his demise was one of my favorite moments from ASOIAF .

    Also I read through the spoilers and didn’t expect a character being told to jump off a bridge to be there 😅

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oops, we’re attacking you from all sides to make you read the book, hey? 🙂 You might well like it, it’s quite interesting actually…

      Oh, I agree, Joffrey’s demise was just so satisfying but I totally loved his character- he added so much excitement and drama and frustration! 😀

      Hahaha… sorry, that was mean of me to tell a character to go and off themselves… she just annoyed me so much 😛

      Liked by 1 person

  4. So what the bloody hell!? This book is clearly not what I thought it was haha. Although, I am super intrigued. Maybe even more so 😉 Pills, alcohol, bathtub full of ice, epinephrine, electric shocks and plenty of CPR… have you seen Flatliners with Kiefer Sutherland, because I swear that it what comes to mind! Am I wrong?

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I am glad you enjoyed it. It had way too many coincidences and continuity problems for me. I am going to read the next one just to give her the benefit of the doubt on her “super powers” rules. So many of her fans (from reading A Darker Shade Of Magic) admitted her powers system/rules were weak in comparison, and left a lot to be explained, but still gave it five stars and justified their rating by saying they are sure she will make up for it in the next book. I am not so sure she will because her “super powers” YA book, This Savage Song, had all the same problems for me. Ha ha. It is just weird to me because the magical system in ADSOM was watertight. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. It was interesting seeing it reviewed by someone who hadn’t read ADSOM first. It makes me wonder how much of my disappointment came from loving ADSOM so much and expecting the same attention to details. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • I got both ADSOM and Vicious at the same time and I think I decided to read Vicious first because of exactly what you said- the expectations after reading ADSOM made Vicious flatline a bit… So, I was trying to be clever there 😀 I agree on the conincidences, especially around Sydney. how handy that she was walking by the road that night, eh? 😀 but well.. it was fate! hahaha… I hope the sequel will deliver for you 🙂 and I hope to start ADSOM in the near future…

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Yay! I’m so glad you liked this book, and enjoyed your first foray into “Schwab-landia” (that’s killer, and I’m totally stealing it. And repurposing it for every time I review a Brandon Sanderson book). I have only read the Shades of Magic books, but her YA sounds really appealing. As someone who *adores* characters and character development, I am definitely intrigued. But, as you know, I’m not very good with graphic violence. How dark/graphic would you say this book is? Should I try it anyway? O_o

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh my word… I just googled Brandon Sanderson and the book covers that popped up took my breath away… how beautiful! 🙂
      Hmm.. in terms of graphic violence.. lemme think now… it’s definitely dark and there is some violence definitely but how graphic it is? Let’s put it this way- there isn’t any torture scenes as such. Someone gets shot. I think a head rolls at some point and there’s electrocution, but… I don’t think it’s described in an overly too detailed way. I’m cautious here because I’m worried about spoilers… how queasy are you when it comes to graphic violence? I don’t think it will sicken you in the sense of graphic violence, I think it will sicken you in terms of what the characters are willing to do to test the EO theory… I mean, it felt eerie to me, anyway…

      Liked by 1 person

      • If you are into fantasy at all, you should check out Sanderson’s works. He is an extremely prolific author, and while each series is separate they are all in the same universe: Cosmere. At some point, we’ll start to see some crossovers, apparently. I am intrigued. ANYWAY
        I can handle terrible deeds- there is dorm thing about graphic violence which triggers my gag reflex. Even while reading! #Embarrassed
        As long as things aren’t described in detail, I can handle it. So! Eerie, bring it on. Looks like I’ll be checking out Vicious soon. 😄

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Wonderful review! My first experience of her books was This Savage Song and I was quite impressed by how she develops her characters. Truly unique, with exceptional writing skills. I absolutely loved the part where you mention that the book doesn’t really have any ”‘stfu‘ kind of moments”. I totally know that feeling, and really appreciate those whenever they randomly appear. 🙂 Looking forward to try this book out myself, as well as the Dark Shades of Magic trilogy.

    – Lashaan

    Liked by 1 person

  8. If i had to guess what score you gave this, without seeing it was 4, I would have been at a loss. Great review, a real rollercoaster of a review 🙂 at times the negatives made me think you’d hate it, then you’d come roaring back with some darn good positives. The excerpts you posted were pretty awesome 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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