Author:  Victoria Schwab
Published: September 24th 2013
Publisher: Tor
Categories: Fantasy, Science Fiction, Adult
External Links: Book Depository • Goodreads

Synopsis: 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.

Review: It’s a whirlwind of emotions, you guys. Vicious knocked me down and toppled me over and over. I haven’t read a book that explored heroes and villains in a very ambiguous way. It made us question their nature, their motives and essentially their righteousness. Ms. Victoria Schwab created such distinct characters and placed them in an engaging plot that kept me on my toes the entire time.

I was really interested on how two former friends, Eli and Victor, ended up hunting each other. But it all rooted on a college research and an experiment gone wrong. They tried to delve on the lengths of human abilities which in the process led them to discover the Eos or the Extra Ordinaries. Now ten years later, Victor, a fugitive wants to kill his former friend. On the other hand, Eli is chasing down these EOs making his mission to eliminate these people that go against human’s natural design.

I haven’t read a good book about rivalry as good as Death Note. In Death Note both L and Light have their own idea of justice. Light is only after criminals—people who bring injustice to others. But for L, justice must be served in a proper method, even if they are criminals. As a viewer it made us think which one is right; because both of them had a valid argument. But the real question was which of them was morally right?

I have the exact same feeling when I read Vicious. It made me question things. In a glance Victor can be easily labeled as the villain because he’s after the person who was called a ‘hero.’ But as I dived further in, I was exposed to Victor’s motivations; I’ve come to understand where all these desire to get revenge originated. Meanwhile, Eli tried to kill all the Eos, thinking they are anomalies and therefore must be removed. In some weird way, I sort of understand (but I don’t agree) his reason because his beliefs weighed so much on how he sees the world. He viewed abnormalities unnatural, evil even. But he’s putting the life of these people in his hand. His method was morally unacceptable but he justified it through his principles.

I liked how the story played the theme of gray areas when it comes to heroism. Eli convinced himself as the hero and yet he does something not noble—not hero like. Killing these people and the satisfaction he got afterwards will really make you question his objectives. But if you think about it, he was just following what he thinks is right. Victor too has his own way of delivering justice. In a way, putting an end to Eli’s plan not only benefitted him but others like him as well. In fact, he thinks that the problem doesn’t lie on the EOs themselves. It was how both of them responded to their existence.  It still depends on how that person will use his/her ability. And I think he is right.

Victoria Schwab is not a foreign name to me. I knew about her other YA titles but I wasn’t too optimistic to pick them up. But there’s something about Vicious that I desired to read it. And well, I guess my instinct done a pretty good job. I knew just by the blurb that it is going to be an interesting ride. But interesting is probably an understatement. I was confused and yet very satisfied. It was hands down super good.

Preview Quote: “You asked me if I ever wanted to believe in something. I do. I want to believe in this. I want to believe that there’s more.” Victor sloshed a touch of whiskey over the edge of his glass. “That we could be more. Hell, we could be heroes.”