Review: Vicious by V.E. Schwab

October 24, 2013 5 stars, Book Review 14 ★★★★★

Vicious Victoria Schwab

A masterful, twisted tale of ambition, jealousy, betrayal, and superpowers, set in a near-future world.

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?

In Vicious, V. E. Schwab brings to life a gritty comic-book-style world in vivid prose: a world where gaining superpowers doesn’t automatically lead to heroism, and a time when allegiances are called into question.


​​​​Vicious is a trip down a road paved with the madness of two men and the vengeance of one. If ever you wanted to get inside the mind of a sociopath this would be a good book to start with. It’s dark and twisted without being sick. The two main characters Victor and Eli are disturbed but they are written in such a way that you don’t want to hate them. Okay, so maybe I hated Eli, *smirk* but he totally deserves every ounce of bad juju coming his way. They are the best of friends and the worst of enemies. But isn’t that always the way?

When Victor and Eli decide to test their theory on how ExtraOrdinatry people can come to exist, they succeed and that inner darkness both of them have been hiding for so long comes out in full force.

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ExtraOrdinary. He had heard of them, the way people hear about any phenomena, from believer sites and the occasional late-night expose where”experts” analyze grainy footage of a man lifting a car or a woman engulfed in fire without burning. Hearing about EOs and believing in EOs were very different things, and he couldn’t tell be Eli’s tone which camp he fell into. – pg 30
I have to say Victor is such a well created character that I could completely imagine him and all of his peculiarities walking right out of the pages. It’s characters like these that make you think back to all the people you’ve known in life and really wonder about them. Who knows just how disturbed someone is?

This has to be one of the best supporting case of characters I’ve read. Sydney is a young teenager that has idolized her older sister Serena her whole life. Serena is a nutball piece of work, and her element of the story was the one I had the hardest time with but it was ultimately fitting and well done. When something terrible happens between them, Victor finds Sydney on the side of the road and takes her in.  His treatment of her let me see a side of him that I didn’t even thought existed. Her backstory is as well built as Victor’s, even if it was only a supporting story.

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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 barely grown an inch since the day she died. – pg 12

There is also Mitch, while his story didn’t get as much spotlight it was still given ample attention to make him a character that I became very attached to. The way the story progresses was something I couldn’t have anticipated.

If you are looking for something to give you all the nice warm and fuzzy feelings this is not that book. Here you will find sadness and pain, torment and death – there is a stark reality built into these fictional characters that will resonate with readers and carry you along page after page. Even with how dark it was – it wasn’t too dark. I can’t adequately explain how it managed to not be a downer – but I think that might have a lot to do with Sydney and Mitch. I can only hope that we haven’t seen the last of all of them.

Come back next week for my interview with Victoria Schwab!


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• A copy was provided by the publisher for an honest review. Quotes come from the published edition. All opinions expressed are my own. Please note that this post also contains affiliate links. To view our full Blog Policy, click here.

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Tabitha (Pabkins)

When I'm in the zone I can flip book pages faster than the eye can see - screaming "More Input!" I'm a book, yarn, & art supply hoarding goblin who loves to draw, make toys and craft all sorts of creepy cute things. My current habit is to listen to audio books while I'm arting it up!
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14 Responses to “Review: Vicious by V.E. Schwab”

  1. Silvia

    Thanks for the review! This sounds really amazing and disturbing at the same time. Like JennRenee, I’ll have to wait for the right mood to read it, but since I’ve got such a long TBR list, that won’t be a problem…

    • Tabitha the Pabkins

      It is most definitely both of those things. I was so sucked in that after I finished I rushed out and bought another of her books. I loved her style. You’ll have to tell me later if you end up liking it. Are you on goodreads?

      • Silvia

        I’ll definitely let you know. I’m looking forward to the interview! I do have a goodreads account but I don’t really use it much. It’s such a deep rabbit hole…

  2. Cali W.

    Great review and the trailer is cool too. Another interesting book to read. 😉

  3. Anne Consolacion

    I’m looking forward to reading this adult novel from Victoria Schab. I’ve read quite a number of positive reviews for this book and I’m glad you liked it. Sometimes, we need to read something dark. 🙂

    • Tabitha the Pabkins

      Yes, exactly! I don’t think I’ve heard anything bad about this book. I hope you pick it up – reading it made me want to get another of her books, a YA one.