Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Review: Vicious by V.E. Schwab

Vicious by V.E. Schwab
Series: Standalone
Genre: Contemporary
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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?

I hate being the dissenting voice. Truly I do. I wanted to love this book. It had everything I was looking for - or, it was supposed to.


Throughout the entirety of this book, I was trying to think of a word to describe it.

Predictable - but that's not quite it, even though it totally is most of the time - was the one I kept coming back to. But then, on page 357, I realized.


That's the word I want. This story was too easy.

It was too easy to see where it was headed from the moment a certain character was introduced back in the 'Ten Years Ago' parts. It was easy the way everything fell into place for the characters. (Though that might have been because of a few Xanatos Gambits thrown around.) It was even an easy morality, barely skimming the surface of what could have been an epic tale of betrayal and twisted loyalties.

Instead, we got a villain and an anti-hero battling it out because of one stupid decision. We have a dozen or more cheap ways out when it would have been much more effective to not make the answer so easy.

I'm totally on board for the 'let's make the villains the lead' wave that's hitting books. (And have hit them.) I love the ideas for this one and I have a huge weakness for friends turned enemies. But this book…I guess maybe I expected too much out of it.

I wanted a story of two friends, each with their own goals and issues having a heart wrenching falling out and turning into archnemeses. I wanted to see their friendship fall apart, from something solid to something that crumbled painfully. I wanted two characters so solidly in the morally grey that I'd almost be begging for color. I wanted an examination of good and evil

What I got was two people that used each other but, I feel, never really cared a lot what happened to the other person. What I got was a stupid decision that was handled badly by both parties and turned something that was supposed to be tragic into something stupid. What I got was, for all their claims otherwise, one straight-up villain. What I got was a world that had been painted in broad brushstrokes of 'good' and 'bad'.

And I think it's this last that was the proverbial final straw.

Humans = good - pretty much universally.
EO's = bad - because we all know there's something not right with them.

It was a copout.

It left the whole story feeling simplistic and, yes, easy.

Some favorite quotes:

"There are no good men in this game."

Someone could call themselves a hero and still walk around killing dozens. Someone else could be labeled a villain for trying to stop them.

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