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Schwab, Victoria

Book - 2013
Average Rating: 4 stars out of 5.
"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?" -- from publisher's web site.

Publisher: New York :, Tor,, 2013
Edition: First Edition
ISBN: 0765335344
Characteristics: 364 pages ;,22 cm


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Dec 18, 2014
  • JCLJoshN rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

I love superheroes--to such a large extent that I don't generally like deconstructions of the genre. I like my superheroes just fine the way they are, thank you very much.

But I liked Vicious. A LOT. It strips down the idea that people with superpowers see themselves as above us mere mortals and it tears apart the whole Good vs Evil, black-and-white tradition of superheroes and supervillains. The two main characters, Victor and Eli, are much like Doctor Doom and Mr. Fantastic or Lex Luthor and Superman, if both the "hero and "villain" were psychopathics capable of great, casual cruelty. There's no good and evil here, no black and white, just varying shades of grey. In Vicious, none of the superpowered characters are someone to look up to, to be inspired by. And yet, the characters are all compelling, especially Victor Vale, who is painted as the villain of the piece at the beginning of the novel, but turns out to be much, much more. Actually, all of the characters turn out to be very complex and endearing in different ways. Combine that with a plot that builds to a thrilling climax while also moving back and forth in time've got me. Vicious is absolutely super. (Sorry.) (I'm not really sorry.)

Nov 03, 2014

Sadly, I found this poorly researched to the point of being unreadable. For a book in which college relationships and discovery are so important, the depiction of college is bizarrely unrealistic. I finally lost it when a supposedly genius pre-med character claims that alcohol warms the blood. I want to be suspending my disbelief about the superpowers, not the mundane parts.

Mar 24, 2014
  • JCLGreggW rated this: 3.5 stars out of 5.

Some folks have described this as a superhero novel, which it most definitely isn't even though I can can see how folks might get that idea. It does take some leads from comic book tropes, but the story this novel weaves is something very much its own. Eli and Victor are two brilliant young men in college together, obsessed about the possibility of the existence of ExtraOrdinaries - superhumans. They develop theories and push themselves to the limit testing on themselves. And, of course, something Goes Horribly Wrong, and the story picks up ten years later, with Victor out of jail on a murder rap and on the hunt, tracking down his former friend and partner, Eli, with revenge on his mind. There are shades of Reed Richards and Victor Von Doom here, but V.E. Schwab makes very clear that this is NOT a superhero world of clearly drawn good and bad guys - Eli is a dark and twisted individual, but Victor is just as twisted in his desire to put an end to he monster he helped create. A great take on the superpowered genre from adults and teens alike.

Mar 07, 2014
  • forbesrachel rated this: 4.5 stars out of 5.

ExtraOrdinary people exist. Not only do they exist, but they are created. Through scientific inquiry, Eli and Victor are able to become them themselves. Success breeds betrayal, and the two find themselves at odds, each trying to kill the other.

The author reveals the descent from their good relations to subsequent bad ones by jumping back and forth through time. Reasons for their actions are often withheld until later to keep our curiosity, especially since there are few supernatural battles. Neither has particularly flashy powers, so in the end, just like how it was the cause of all this, it comes down to wit, and the friends they make.

Most of the story is from Victor's point of view. Through his vision, we too see Eli as the bad guy. Whether he is actually a hero or not is irrelevant, so well does Victor present his version. Part two introduces Eli's voice, and through his explanation he regains some sympathy. His resolve to kill all EO's, regardless of guilt, means that we retain the initial impressions that Victor instilled though. His descent into his "god-given" mission further reaffirms this. While Eli rationalizes his murders, Victor is rational in his pursuit. He is no angel, and his grudge against Eli propels him to some awful acts.

With a logical approach the author establishes a much firmer hold to reality than most origin stories about super powers. Some say power corrupts, in this case it is more like the corruptible seek power, which then breaks what moral restraints they had. Between these two, it is a choice between evil, and greater evil

Dec 29, 2013
  • stephaniedchase rated this: 4.5 stars out of 5.

Intelligent, fast-paced, and dark novel that asks the reader to decide what is good and evil. Brilliant.

Nov 03, 2013
  • VIveggie rated this: 3.5 stars out of 5.

What a unique little gem of a story!! So many interesting characters and I LOVE the premise of the novel. I even loved the 'bad guys' in this one!

Schwab nailed it with the characters It was like reading a graphic novel where the pictures are in your own head. Very Exciting. Loved it. Sydney was my absolute favourite for obvious reasons. The entire story could have been about just her and Serena and I would have enjoyed it just as much!

My only complaint is that there wasn't enough. I want to know the characters better, more of their backstories, and how they ended up where they were. Also, if I had these sort of gritty and dark superpowers, Id be doing a lot with them. The story just seemed cut too short for all the potential the characters had. Can we have more!?

I'd recommend this book to the superhero lovers in my life!


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app03 Version ofelia Last updated 2015/03/23 12:01