Review: Vicious by V.E. Schwab

 “When no one understands, that's usually a good sign that you're wrong.”

Rating: 5/5

Published: September 24th, 2013

Description: 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?

Vicious is one of those books that has a gradual and foreboding air that creeps along for most of the book, but it isn't slow by any means. The unique pacing, alone with its intricate character development and writing style, make this superhero story stand out from the rest.  

Without further ado, let's discuss what makes this book great in more detail!

Antiheroes are usually my weakness, and Vicious has no shortage of them.

For those of you unfamiliar with them, an antihero is a character that lacks the conventional motives and attributes of the ideal hero. Personally, I love a good antihero because they bring a much needed twist to the superhero/super villain trope. In Vicious, Victor and Eli both have opposite motives, but neither of them can really be classified as the archetypal hero. Eli is a villain set on killing hundreds of people to support his cause while Victor is set on stopping Eli in the name of vengeance and anger; since neither of them are fighting in the name of good, it definitely makes things interesting in terms of characterization.

The pacing was (almost) perfect.

For most of the book, Vicious switches between Victor and Eli's college days and adulthood and features the point of view of several characters. Whenever books switch between time periods and perspectives like this, I tend to favor one time/voice over the others and become impatient until I get to that point. Even though I found myself doing that from time to time in this book, I still enjoyed every page, because each voice was distinctive and vital to the overall plot.

The writing style made me feel completely immersed in the story.

The way the characters are written is simple but sinister; Victor and Eli almost seemed nonchalant when discussing their powers and motives. Even though they're both corrupt in their own ways, they speak as though their actions and motives are completely rational, which made the story all the more captivating.

The secondary characters made this book first rate.

Vicious wouldn't be nearly as good if it weren't for its supporting characters. Sydney and Serena's relationship showed that sibling loyalties don't always persevere, and gentle giant Mitchell was probably one of my favorite characters in the whole book. These characters brought out the humanity in Victor and Eli; whether that's positive or negative is up to you.

In short, Vicious was unlike anything I've read lately in the best way possible. I would definitely recommend it if you like the typical hero/villain archetype with a bit of a twist!

If you've read Vicious, feel free to discuss what you thought about it in the comments. If you'd like a sneak peak of what I'll review in the future, be sure to check out my July TBR!

Thanks for reading,

Indoor Sojourner


  1. How have I not read this book yet? How? Having read - and loved - many of this author's other books, I definitely know what you mean about the writing making you feel immersed in the story. And the secondary characters sound wonderful. It's one thing to have fully developed protagonists, but paying attention to the supporting cast really makes a book stand out. Anyway, I'll stop rambling now and go find myself a copy of this book, like I should have done long ago.

    1. I totally agree with your entire comment! :D This is actually the only book I've read by Schwab and I definitely need to read more. A Darker Shade of Magic is on my July TBR, so I'll at least get to that within the next couple of weeks.

  2. YES, antiheroes are so fascinating. I've read The Archived by Schwab and really liked it, especially the writing, so I know I'll enjoy that aspect for sure. It's also great to hear about the pacing because slow paced books are my downfall. It sounds like not everything is black or white in this book, which I love. Nice review!

    1. Thanks! I've heard both positive and negative reviews of The Archived, but I feel like I would like it too since I've enjoyed what I've read by her. I'm actually reading A Darker Shade of Magic right now; once I finish it, I'll probably read some other authors for a little while and read The Archived later.
      You're right about it not being black or white! Vicious definitely isn't your typical superhero story. :)