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Thursday, January 22, 2015

Thoughts on Pages #14: Vicious


This book. Oh. Goodness.

Never have I been blown away by a superhero story quite like this one.

Synopsis

"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."


(from Amazon)

Characters

Victor and Eli, in an attempt to do research on ExtraOrdinary people (AKA EO's), acquire superpowers themselves through death-defying experiments. As a result, they gain unique abilities: Victor can inflict and take away pain upon himself and others, while Eli can heal himself and is essentially immortal. 

Victor grew on me. Even though his power was the most volatile, he was one of the most selfless characters in the book. He struggled with jealousy quite often (especially in the past with Eli), but when it came to protecting those he cared for, he did so without question. Those who care about him do the same (I LOVED Mitch and Sydney! And Dol!).

Now, the character I was the most intrigued by was Eli. This is not a spoiler, so don't freak out: Eli is a Christian. His faith is actually what drives his actions in the book, but in a way that's self-seeking. He thinks that it's his God-given duty to eradicate anyone else who happens to have superpowers. I've never seen a character use their faith in this way, but that particular facet made him memorable. I'm a Christian myself, so while it was refreshing to see a character pray (in fact, he even places his life in His hands at one point towards the beginning of the novel),  it was also important to show what happens when it becomes less about pleasing God and more about pleasing oneself and justifying actions for personal gain.

The rest of the superheroes in the story have really intriguing superpowers. Some of the heroes are ones we meet for a few pages, and then they're gone (to quote MAGIC!, Eli, "Why you gotta be so rude?"). But, nonetheless, every single character had a role in the story, big or small, and their threads all tied together very nicely.

Setting

One half of the story takes place in Lockland University - where Eli and Victor attended college - and the other half takes place in various locations around the city of Merit.

Really, all I have to say about the setting is that it's really conducive to the plot. It almost fades into the background while the characters and plot take the stage, which are truly the most important.

My Thoughts

I have a soft spot for superhero stories.

I'm a Marvel & DC fan, I enjoyed the TV show "Heroes", and I have just loved the genre for the majority of my life. But I've never been so perplexed by and left breathless by a story like Vicious. It's dark and gritty novel, but it's well-written, and it makes you think about what it really means to be a hero. It also teaches the lesson of the perils of when selfishness goes way, way too far. It's intense from the first page to the last. I'd recommend it for adults and young adults (rating it PG-13 for violence; but it's like any Marvel movie out there).

So, I give Vicious by V. E. Schwab five cartons of chocolate milk out of five. It's a thrill ride from start to finish.

Want to see what I'm reading next? Check out my Goodreads and feel free to follow me there! Also, please leave any recommendations in the comments if you would like.
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