Vicious by V. E. Schwab

Posted September 3, 2018 by Amber in Reviews / 6 Comments



by V. E. Schwab

Series: Villains #1
Publisher: Tor Books on September 24, 2013
Genre: Fantasy, Paranormal
Target Age Group: New Adult
Rating: ★★★★½

Check out this book on Goodreads

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’ve only read one other V. E. Schwab book (A Darker Shade of Magic) and loved it.  Schwab has a way of wrapping her reader up slowly in her stories, until you’re so tangled you have no choice but to dig deeper for the dark secret at the center of the novel.  It’s a beautiful thing, really.  Thank goodness her books aren’t as long as George R. R. Martin’s, or we’d all be ensnared for life.

Victor Vale is a great character.  He is beyond confident – Vale is resolute.  There were a few passages that set off red flags in my head about him… things about imitating emotions, etc.  I think that Victor’s actions and calculated behavior and abilities all fit together so well, because I’m 90% sure he’s a functioning sociopath. And still you can’t help but to cheer him on.  What a strange world this is.  And Eli?  The ending of this novel left me unfulfilled in regards to Eli, so thank goodness Vengeful is out at the end of the month… self-righteous jerk.

Sydney was my favorite.  She’s a cinnamon roll if ever there was one, and must be protected.

The plot is a simple vengeance plot… a “you did this to me, I will find you” sort of situation.  As such, there really weren’t any surprises in this book.  There was no big twist – I saw what was coming from a mile away, and I’m fairly certain most readers will be the same.  It’s still entertaining, but don’t expect a big reveal or anything like that.

Vicious takes place in a few different timelines – while the boys were in college, and in the present tense about ten years or so later.  We see flashes in the middle, and we have chapters in all sorts of perspectives.  Going by genre, this is probably what (should be properly called) a New Adult novel – for the age of the characters and the the way both are struggling to find/fulfill their purpose.  I thought it was all very easy to follow, but if you’re someone who doesn’t love it when novels jump around a lot, know that this one may need to be read slowly so you don’t lose the timeline.  Schwab uses helpful headers as well!

I loved this book – it was a great book to tuck in with and enjoy the run of the story.  It doesn’t have the same intense world building as some of her other books, but I think the philosophical discussions between the lines were really interesting.  It’s also worth noting that there’s not a lot of superhero books for adults out there right now, which I find a little strange, considering the popularity of the films at the moment.

Readers who enjoy anti-heroes, following the villain, and Schwab’s dark fantasy books will like this.  I also think that fans of Stephen King who are willing to dive into something a little lighter and less wordy may find Vale’s story interesting.

Ratings Breakdown

Setting: ★★★★ 1/2
Plot: ★★★★★
Characters: ★★★★★
Writing: ★★★★★
Pacing: ★★★ 1/2
Personal Enjoyment: ★★★★★

4.5 stars overall rating


Vicious Stays On The Shelf

This book was interesting and I think I honestly would have been happy with it as a one-off.  It just has that vibe of a book that could easily become a mood read in the future if I’m in a reading slump.  I enjoyed the characters – even the worst of them, because it was fun just to be enraged at Eli?  And, of course, I’ve got Vengeful preordered, so it’s nice to have a matching pair. ?


Have you read Vicious?

Who is your favorite anti-hero?

Are you a V. E. Schwab fan?

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6 responses to “Vicious by V. E. Schwab

    • Amber

      Oh yeah, her fantasy worlds have far more extensive world building for sure. Still, for a character driven book I though everything worked great here!