Every now and then, there’s this book that it seems like absolutely everybody is raving about, and I glance at the premise to see if it sounds even remotely up my alley, and what do you know, it actually kind of does, and eventually I just reach the point where I scream in surrender and buy the book, praying it will at least halfway live up to the hype.
Yup, that was the case with the book to be reviewed below. Consider this my contribution to the hype.
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy…whatever you call a superhero comic book movie of a novel.
Blurb: 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
My Thoughts: In a word, I’d call the book “interesting”. Not “interesting” in the diplomatic way you use it when you’re not sure yet what else you can say about a thing. “Interesting” in that it kept a firm grip on my interest. It didn’t have me racing through the pages in a panic to know what came next; it was too calm a thing for that. But when I was reading, it made me want to read on. And when I wasn’t reading, it made me rather wish I were.* Though I wasn’t emotionally hijacked, I was nonetheless totally invested. I’m not even sure how the heck Schwab pulled that off. (I wonder how much the extraordinary touch of Victor Vale** may have had to do with it.)
* (And once I’d finished reading it, I was bummed for about a day, then shrugged and started rereading it, ‘cause YOLO.)
** (And since it’s asterisk time, can I just say: I love the thing Victor does with Sharpies. It totally goes against my personal code, but no matter; it’s still cool when he does it.)
“There are no good men in this game.”
So spake one of the characters, and may well have spoken true. There was no pure white, and no solid black, leaving the reader to choose a shade of gray to root for. The villain or his wicked archnemesis; pick your pleasure. There were characters I liked more than others, characters I very much wished not to die, and characters for whom I wished the opposite. It was harder to find characters I couldn’t pity. Even the worst of the bad guys had their sympathetic half-a-moments.
HSYRT? (Hey, Should You Read This?): For someone (like me) who frequently finds herself drawn to the villains of a tale by their dark complexity, “Vicious” is a book to savor.
Whaddaya think, readers? Sound like a literary bandwagon you’d be game to hop on? You can sit by me. ^^