If you follow me on Twitter, it’s no secret that I love Victoria Schwab. Her writing is poetic, with each phrase carefully crafted. The story is always elegantly woven, complete in millions of intricate connections. And her books are beautifully dark, almost always exploring themes of monsters and what it means to be human. (Apparently she has a Master’s degree in monsters or something.)
But I’ve never posted a review of her books on the blog. Time to remedy that! My most recent Schwab read:
Place in Schwab Canon
Vicious is one of Victoria’s middle books. Published in 2013, it precedes the better-known Monsters of Verity Duology (Our Dark Duet coming soon!) and Shades of Magic trilogy. Vicious was originally published as a stand-alone, although Victoria had hopes and plans for further books. A second book, Vengeful is projected for 2018 publication. At an event, Schwab mentioned that she wants to make her readers sympathize with Eli (the “villain” of Vicious).
Plot Summary via Wikipedia
Victor and Eli begin as college roommates and discover that near-death experiences, under the right conditions, can create superhuman abilities. When Victor tries to create his abilities, he accidentally kills Eli’s girlfriend. Eli begins to believe that all those with power are evil and starts a crusade to kill them.
Who’s the Villain?
One of Schwab’s specialties in creating characters who do bad things but might not actually be villains. In its broadest premise, Vicious is about Victor being a supervillain–he does kill a bunch of people–and Eli being a hero (who tries to save Earth from the “evil” ExtraOrdinaries). But Eli is…well, delusional, honestly. And Victor, although brutal, makes a young girl feel safe.
Schwab’s characters are complex and never let you stereotype them or take traits for granted. I love that.
I feel that Vicious lacks some of the stunningly poetic language of the most recent Schwab stories. It did not in any way hinder my enjoyment of the book, but as someone reading her books out of publication order, did surprise me a little. I’m not sure yet whether that difference reflects changes (dare I say advancement?) in the author’s style, or if it was an intentional choice with these characters.
The chapters jump present, distant past, and recent past. Initially, that can be disorienting, but the pattern rapidly becomes clear. Time-jumping is not always handled well, but I didn’t mind it at all in this book. The jumps dish out information appropriately without seeming too contrived.
Loved it. You should read it. If you have trouble with the longer Schwab books (like the Shades of Magic trilogy), you might fare better with Vicious. I can’t wait for the next book to come out.
[As a reminder, you can enter to win a preorder of your choice by reviewing any of Victoria Schwab’s books on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Goodreads. Upload pics/screenshots to #Reviews3030 or email me at ytbellereads AT gmail.com.]