Genre: Adult, Paranormal
Publication date: September 24th 2013
by Tor Books
A masterful, twisted tale of ambition, jealousy, betrayal, and
superpowers, set in a near-future world.
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?
-A copy was provided by Tor Books for review-
With such an addicting writing style I can see why this author has made a ton of fans from her previous books, Vicious was my first by Victoria but it definitely will not be my last. In fact, I already have The Archived on its way to me!
First to note should be that this book is not YA, it’s Victoria’s first adult book. Characters are in their 30s and you can tell by the maturity of the storytelling (which is ruthless and violent). Personally, I was pleasantly surprised as I was well overdue for an adult book, particularly a merciless paranormal read such as this. Vicious is ultimately a story of revenge. It’s told in an unusual time lapse, where we don’t have a story from A to Z, but rather a story told in spurts of time leading up to right now. We’re regularly thrown from from 10 years ago, to 2 hours ago, to yesterday, to 2 weeks ago, and so on. This does sound like it would be distracting, instead I found it was extremely engaging. It kept the story from stalling even slightly, and it left you on your toes, craving the next bit in each timestamp. It became my favorite aspect of reading this book, even. The anticipation brought on by this is relentless. And then there’s midnight…
Inside these time instances we get a story told in two main POVs with a few others now and again. It begins 10 years earlier where we’re brought into the reason behind this hunger for revenge. We’re introduced to Eli and Victor as innocent college students trying to find proof of EOs – ExtraOrdinary people, letting us to slowly digest how deep this hate stretches. The character development is exceptional; refined and elaborate. Victor is cold and dangerously intelligent; he calculates his moves to the finest of details; a force to be reckoned with. I loved rooting for the guy. Eli, is fantastically crafted as this malignant evil. His mental state becomes clearer as the story progresses. He thinks he’s doing the world a favor by killing EOs, an act that God would encourage, even, which in turn makes him the most twisted kind of villain. Effort is not lost on the side characters either, both Sydney and Mitch are utterly engaging, same goes for Eli’s sidekick, Serena who has her own evil dusted soul. They each hold powers that are quite fascinating, albeit combined with a touch of dread. Even though this is all told in third person which I often have trouble with, I had no problem getting a feel for these characters. Their voices are compelling and their personalities burst out of the pages.
The writing is dark and irresistible, with Victoria weaving this story into a twisted, bloody mess. I absolutely loved every second of it. With the unique past vs present storytelling, the excitement doesn’t take long to escalate. We quickly get unnerving scenes thick with desperation that sets the mood for the rest of the book, showing a glimpse of just how serious this is going to become. The pacing could not have been better set for this predatory read. You can feel the ruthless, bloodthirsty atmosphere throughout, and the climax is nothing short of explosive. Even though there’s no cliffhanger, you’ll be left craving for more, like the aftertaste of a most delicious delicacy that is Victoria Schwab’s writing!