Vicious by Victoria Schwab
Release: September 24, 2013
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
Vicious is, without a doubt, one of the best books of 2013. And this isn't because I've had the fortune of hanging out with Victoria. No bias--just pure love for Victoria's writing, her characters, and her story. In case you don't know, Vicious is an adult novel. It centers around two college students, who collaborate on a thesis. Together, they discover the key to achieving superpowers: near death experiences. It's not just enough to theorize this connection between superpowers and near death experiences. Both Eli and Victor strive to simulate ether own near-death experiences, which ends disastrously. Ten years later, Eli and Victor are sworn enemies, and the entire story leads up to a showdown and an ending that can only be described as "perfect".
I think what I loved most about Vicious is how it managed to blur the lines between good and evil. This world is filled with exceptions and shades of grey, and Victoria manages to illustrate that perfectly in this novel. The writing is also glorious and lyrical, without being excessive. Victor and Eli are both intriguing characters, with their own agendas and motivations. What's surprising about this book, is that there is no clear villain of hero in Vicious. Both Eli and Victor have good intentions, but the path towards good intentions isn't always bright. It can be destructive and dark.
The book is also perfectly paced, alternating between the past and present. As the story progresses, we see what happened to make Eli and Victor enemies. Tension rises. We also meet two other characters: Selina and Sydney. Both girls have unique gifts of their own, and they each help assist Eli and Victor in their quests for revenge and redemption. This is, without a doubt, Victoria's best work to date. There is so much I would love to discuss, but I can't without spoiling the story. If this futuristic, superhero, morally ambiguous story piques your interest, don't hesitate to pick it up today.