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Book Review: Vicious by V.E. Schwab

There’s more sci-fi to love and fear in V.E. Schwab’s Vicious. Note: This is not a YA book! Many YA lovers have read it, but it is definitely not in the genre.

Book Review: Vicious by V.E. Schwab

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vicious by v.e. schwab

Title & Author: Vicious by V.E. Schwab

Genre: Fantasy – Paranormal, Science Fiction

Release Date: September 24, 2013

Series: Standalone

Publisher: Tor

How I Got the Book: Bought


“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?”


Vicious was an interesting science fiction story that was driven by very strong characters. I’d read a TON of 5-star raving reviews about this novel, and was honestly a bit let down.

Although I certainly think the writing is top notch and the storytelling is engaging, it didn’t leave me with the “OMG, I must tell everyone I know about how awesome this book is!!!”

But, that doesn’t mean it wasn’t good.

What I enjoyed about Vicious was the lead up to a big showdown between Victor and Eli, two college frenemies who turn hardcore nemeses. The story is told in a day by day then hour by hour lead up to when these two men meet again after 10 years and is interspersed with their history and backstory from years past.

The countdown added a lot of suspense and movement to the book. I didn’t necessarily feeling “pulled” through the story as with other books, but I liked the drama of knowing everything was leading up to ONE BIG MOMENT.

Because so many of my blogger friends loved and reviewed this book, I didn’t realize it wasn’t YA for the first 100 pages or so. Then all the f-words tipped me off.

Vicious is a very dark story, but one that hasn’t been told before. Victor and Eli live in what I would say is a contemporary time (they have smartphones and the Internet), and they are experimenting with idea that EO’s (ExtraOrdinaries) live among us.

Victor is the narrator for the first half of the book, and his story is filled with sadness and bitterness. It makes him an even more interesting character though. There is a lack of pretension about him that I really appreciated.

It could have been the lack of a romance (love and feelings are mentioned but not highlighted) or it could have been the more battle/fight driven plot, but Vicious felt quite dry at times. It seemed like something was missing.

What I pushed through the book to read (and not DNF instead) was the super complicated relationships. Victor and Eli both love and hate and respect and loathe each other. Their relationship changes over time, and the definition of “good guy” and “bad guy” is in question (<-- the best).

Plus, larger issues of faith and law are deftly woven in as well.


If you are a sci-fi lover, this book will delight and fascinate. You MUST be ok with no romance and difficult-to-like characters. Although neither of those things are my exact cup of tea, I definitely appreciated the great writing and the complication relationships in the novel. Vicious is definitely a strong read overall.

About Lisa Parkin

I'm a hardcore lover of young adult fiction and have been reviewing books since 2011. Other interests include Downton Abbey, heat lightning storms, Harry Potter land and (begrudingly) one orange tabby.