Vicious, by V.E. Schwab
Released TODAY, 9.24.13
A masterful tale of ambition, jealousy, desire, and superpowers.
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.
If you read this blog at all, you know I have a thing for superheroes. (See me as a child):
Never was there a happier little girl 🙂
Superheroes helped shape the writer I would later become.
So…you can imagine my excitement when Victoria (V.E.) Schwab (who is really cool, btw, AND from the Nashville area like me) stood in front of my local RWA chapter and told us about her newest superVILLAIN book, Vicious.
And we get to see inside HIS head. I mean, who knew a Sharpie could reveal so much about a character??? (I won’t spoil it for you.)
So…I was so intrigued by Victoria and Vicious that I went home and googled the book. I wanted to read it. Any of it. All of it. Whatever I could get my hands on. And there it was. The first 100 pages were available on NetGalley if you were lucky enough to get Tor/Forge to give it to you.
And they gave it to me.
I shouted. Maybe squeeed a little. Then I read. No…I INHALED IT.
There are sooooo many things I want to say about this book, and I want to show some writing skill here, but I’m all fan girl on this one, guys. I’m gonna even use adverbs.
I started reading and BOOM. Within pages, I found myself falling fast in love with Victor Vale, aka BAD GUY. Sort of. Is he? I mean, really? Of course he is! That’s what’s so DELICIOUS about this book! And I’ve only read the first 100 pages, an issue I plan to rectify this weekend since the book released today.
I was not prepared to be utterly captivated by Victor Vale in that first 100 pages. Schwab has so wonderfully developed this character, so wonderfully displayed Victor’s unique perspective of his world, that I feel inept even trying to convey just how well she did it. So I won’t. I’ll give you this:
His attention was finally dragged back to the lecture when Eli’s hand went up. Victor hadn’t caught the question, but he watched his roommate smile his perfect all-American-political-candidate smile before he answered. Eliot—Eli—Cardale had started out as a predicament. Victor had been none too happy to find the lanky, brown-haired boy standing in the doorway of his dorm a month into sophomore year. His first roommate had experienced a change of heart in the first week (through no fault of Victor’s, of course) and had promptly dropped out. Due either to a shortage of students or perhaps a filing error made possible by fellow sophomore Max Hall’s penchant for any Lockland-specific hacking challenge, the student hadn’t been replaced. Victor’s painfully small double was converted into a much more adequate single room. Until the start of October when Eliot Cardale—who, Victor had immediately decided, smiled too much—appeared with a suitcase in the hall outside.
Victor had initially wondered what it would take to recover his bedroom for a second time in a semester, but before he put any plans into motion, an odd thing happened. Eli began to . . . grow on him. He was precocious, and frighteningly charming, the kind of guy who got away with everything, thanks to good genes and quick wits. He was born for the sports teams and the clubs, but he surprised everyone, especially Victor, by showing no inclination whatsoever to join either. This small defiance of social norm earned him several notches in Victor’s estimation, and made him instantly more interesting.
But what fascinated Victor most was the fact that something about Eli was decidedly wrong. He was like one of those pictures full of small errors, the kind you could only pick out by searching the image from every angle, and even then, a few always slipped by. On the surface, Eli seemed perfectly normal, but now and then Victor would catch a crack, a sideways glance, a moment when his roommate’s face and his words, his look and his meaning, would not line up. Those fleeting slices fascinated Victor. It was like watching two people, one hiding in the other’s skin. And their skin was always too dry, on the verge of cracking and showing the color of the thing beneath.
From someone who has written characters with “super” abilities, I can tell you that the magic Schwab pulls off in this book is no small feat. Vicious is a dream read for me. It not only gives me characters I can get deeply invested in, it’s also crafted.
Schwab leaps back and forth in time, giving the reader tantalizing tastes of classic comic book origin story intermingled with a curious and enveloping here and now. This is another feat not so easily mastered. Yet Schwab never leaves the reader behind. You never feel disconnected, or that annoying stop and reverse sensation of flashbacks. And, as you can tell from the excerpt, (more available on Tor.com), Schwab has a way of sucking you in with her phrasing, tangling you in her words, and making you want to read entire paragraphs over again because they MEAN something.
My writer self sighed bliss on many occasion while reading this sample.
And I haven’t even gotten to the MEAT of the story.
I’m soooo excited to finish this book. You can bet I’ll let you guys know once I do.
So go. Check it out. Love it. Come back and tell me what you thought 🙂