Audiobook Review: Vicious by V. E. Schwab
Narrator: Noah Michael Levine
Published by Audible Studios on September 24th 2013
Length: 9 hour 55 minutes
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.
"A dynamic and original twist on what it means to be a hero and a villain. A killer from page one...highly recommended!" --Jonathan Maberry, New York Times bestselling author of Marvel Universe vs The Avengers and Patient Zero
One of Publishers Weekly's Best Fantasy Books of 2013
Vicious is an intriguing and dark super hero/villain story. Eli and Victor are college roommates, friends, and research partners. Their studies into what makes EOs (“extra-oridnarys” – people with supernatural powers) have come to an exciting juncture. A hypothesis so strong that they go to the extreme, turning mere observation, into experimentation. Ah yes! The joys of being young and so full of and sure of yourself that you are willing to blazingly ignore all caution and jump full into an experiment where the cost of being wrong would be your life. Hey, why not?! Well, while they may have successfully turned themselves into EOs, the experiment was not without a terrible cost, one that really shapes their lives and motivations for the rest of the story.
Neither Victor or Eli are perfect people, they both have faults. Some serious faults. Like, bordering (or crossing into) psychiatrically committable faults. Eli comes across as the more friendly, sociable one. But, he also seems to be the scarier of the two.
The story takes place in multiple timelines. During their experimentation, and then 10 years later. In the later timeline, Victor has escaped from prison and is trying to reconnect with Eli. I right away seemed to like Victor more, even though I am not sure either character is really supposed to be entirely likable. Maybe it helped that I really enjoyed the young girl that Victor somehow picked up during his travels. She is a bit mysterious, and I’m always a sucker for mysterious girls in books. Color me predictable there.
Eli on the other hand, has decided become a self styled vigilante. After all of the research into EOs, then their experiment gone horribly wrong, Eli has decided he needs to rid the world of all the unnatural EOs (except himself of course, he has some convoluted reasoning why he is not evil, but all the rest are)
I loved the ending, but overall I’m not sure I loved this book as much as many others have. I think I just never felt very attached to any of the characters. I would have loved to have seen more of Victor’s young traveling companion. Of all the characters in the book, she was definitely the one I was most interested in. That said, it is definitely worth reading, especially if you enjoy some moral ambiguity, and characters that are less, way less, than perfect individuals.
The audiobook of this was good. I did sometimes feel like the timeline jumping was probably easier to transition with a print book rather than an audiobook, but it never took too long to verify which timeline the story was currently in.