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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars We could be anti-heroes ... just for one day
Victor Vale and Eli Cardale met as students at Lockland University. Both were gifted scientists whose intelligence was matched only by their ambitions for the future. When Eli decides to do a research project on whether ExtraOrdinaries (people rumoured to have special powers) could actually exist, Victor’s keen to help. Their research uncovers a link to...
Published 5 months ago by I Read, Therefore I Blog

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Meh.
My grandmother was a very wise woman. ‘Never judge a book by its cover’ she would intone. Of course, she was being metaphorical and using a metaphor one can apply to a variety of situations; as grandmothers are wont to do. However, she was right.

Vicious looked the part; snappy, menacing title and hero-shot blacked out characters against a...
Published 6 months ago by Procrastinators rule in a minute


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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Meh., 29 Aug. 2014
This review is from: Vicious (Paperback)
My grandmother was a very wise woman. ‘Never judge a book by its cover’ she would intone. Of course, she was being metaphorical and using a metaphor one can apply to a variety of situations; as grandmothers are wont to do. However, she was right.

Vicious looked the part; snappy, menacing title and hero-shot blacked out characters against a shattered red background. And it was written by a woman, which, in a field dominated by men, was cheering. The subject matter – people who gain extraordinary powers and the way in which they use them, is a well-worn trope, so I expected the novel to take it somewhere different. Sadly, this seemed to be a re-working of the main ideas from the TV series Heroes, but without the darkness: two people get supernatural powers, by dint of dying/being revived. Their powers are linked in some way to their deaths, which was quite a nice touch; but then we move into familiar territory as one of the men decides to get rid of anyone else with superpowers as his (although wrong in his eyes), are god-given and other people are just unnatural.

The author, it appears, has recently made the move from YA into adult fiction and to be honest, I felt it showed. Victor is an attempt, I would guess, to create a grown up, ambiguous character with whom it’s difficult to empathise. Trouble was, I didn’t really care enough to worry about not empathising with him – especially after encountering many other characters in novels with much more depth. Victor’s (and most of the other characters actually) main issue appeared to be over-privilege and absent parents (pretty much like many of Tartt or Fitzgerald’s characters) and we seemed to be invited to dislike him because he killed people. I still failed to see just what it was that was supposed to make the reader ambivalent. I also wondered whether anything was going to made of the alliterative names etc, or whether they were just there as a nod to superhero conventions.

So, three stars, because I didn't actually dislike it, it occupied three evenings and because there were some nice touches – like Eli not being as powerful as he thought, but ultimately because this was a predictable and disappointing novel which failed to really exploit its subject matter. The novel was left open ended, which makes me suspect a trilogy, but unless it takes a very unexpected turn, I don’t think I’ll be coming back for more.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars We could be anti-heroes ... just for one day, 13 Sept. 2014
This review is from: Vicious (Paperback)
Victor Vale and Eli Cardale met as students at Lockland University. Both were gifted scientists whose intelligence was matched only by their ambitions for the future. When Eli decides to do a research project on whether ExtraOrdinaries (people rumoured to have special powers) could actually exist, Victor’s keen to help. Their research uncovers a link to near-death experience and extreme trauma but when they put their theory into practice, it has unforeseen and tragic consequences that result in Victor being sent to prison for murder.

10 years later, Victor breaks out of prison with his cellmate Mitchell Turner, determined to get revenge on Eli, who’s spent the last decade on a mission to kill other ExtraOrdinaries, aided by a beautiful woman called Serena who has ExtraOrdinary abilities of her own ...

V. E. Schwab’s first book for adults is a tightly plotted, original take on the superhero story that reads as X-MEN meets THE COUNT OF MONTE CRISTO. There are no heroes in this novel – Victor and Eli are each deeply flawed people who rely on warped logic and personal vengeance to justify their behaviour. I really liked the way Schwab gives them each an ability that reflects their personality and how they learn to use those abilities against others. The grudge that exists between them is nicely sketched out and well mirrored by the relationship between the ExtraOrdinary sisters Sydney and Serena. I was less sold on Eli’s reasons for eradicating other ExtraOrdinaries because the quasi-religious rationale didn’t have a huge amount of build-up in his backstory with Victor (although Schwab’s writing just about carried me) and this equally applied to Serena’s reasons for working with Eli, which wasn’t helped by her flip-flop attitude to Sydney. I also didn’t think that the love triangle between Victor, Eli and Angie really added anything to the book because Eli and Victor’s relationship was so well drawn that it was motivation enough for each character. However, I enjoyed the way Schwab handles the time-jumps to incorporate background information into the plot and there’s a great sense of pace and momentum as events draw to an inevitable and bloody conclusion while also finding time for some twists that I didn’t see coming. The book ends with the potential for a sequel, which I would definitely want to check out and in the meantime, I will catch up on Schwab’s YA back catalogue.
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4.0 out of 5 stars What makes a hero and what make a villain?, 23 Aug. 2014
By 
Ginny (London, England) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Vicious (Hardcover)
See my review of this book, and many more, at TalesfromtheGreatEastRoad.wordpress.com

(Mild spoilers)

Victor Vale and Eli Ever. They were friends once, years ago. Two collage boy who found a similar keen intellect and a thirst for knowledge in each other. They had heard the rumours of people who were ExtraOrdinary, somehow more than human. Whilst researching how one can become an EO, Eli thinks he has found the key to gaining super human abilities. But then in one night, everything fell apart – and two friends became bitter rivals.

Everyone is the hero of their own story. What they don’t tell you is there is a thin line between being a hero and a villain. But Eli knows, he knows he is the good guy. His mission is nobel, and he is the only one who can be trusted to do it. That was, until he discovers that Victor, his now nemesis, has somehow escaped from prison. This can only end in pain…

I’m a big fan of Victoria Schwab’s YA novels, which include The Near Witch, and The Archived series, and I also enjoy following her on social media so this, her first adult novel, has been high on my reading list for a long time. I also have a soft spot for X-Men style superheroes, so needless to say my expectations and hope for Vicious were very high. I am pleased to report that this book is one damn good read. I loved the process of having a near-death experience to become an EO, and found it clever how each person’s powers are linked to that experience and how they handled it/what they did to survive. This made each power unique and lead to an interesting dynamic between Eli and Victor’s powers: Eli can heal him self from any wound and Victor can cause pain. At first glance it would seem that super healing powers would mean that you couldn’t lose (or at least not easily), but how long would it take for your mind to break if would were tortured with pain for long enough? The characters were the other excellent part of this novel, my personally favourite being Victor (but I’ll admit I do love me a fictional bad boy). Despite being about superheroes, I don’t actually believe there are any heroes in Vicious, though Sydney’s story was quite sad, especially since she was only a child. I found Eli to be one of the most complex characters – he is the most terrifying type of villain, the one who unflinchingly believes himself to be a hero and who is dedicated to his own twisted set of ethics.

There were, however, a couple of things I didn’t enjoy as much. I didn’t really believe in the friendship between Eli and Victor, which was shown in flashback chapters throughout the first half of the book. I think because so little time was spent showing them as friends, most spent showing how they each became EO, the reader is told rather than shown this friendship. But then again, I think in some ways this was the point – that they had never truly been friends, but believed they had been. My main problem was the character of Angie, Eli’s girlfriend and Victor’s unrequited love. I felt that she wasn’t much of a character and before the read could get to know her she is killed off, simply to begin the feud between the two men. This is a widely used plot device within comic books and superhero stores, known colloquially as ‘women in fridges’, and I was very sad to see it appear in the works of a woman whom I admire.

Overall, this was a very good book, and with the somewhat open ending, I can only hope for a sequel.

4 stars.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Who is a villain? Who is a hero?, 6 Sept. 2014
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This review is from: Vicious (Kindle Edition)
Who is a hero? Who is a villain? Well the author of this book is both hero and villain. A hero for writing such a brilliant book a villain for making me stay up to past midnight just so I could finish it.

What is the difference between hero and villain is something you will ask yourself constantly throughout the book. I asked myself several times which out of the two friends Eli and Victor was which. It is an answer that you could debate for hours after the book.

There is so much to like about this book it is hard to quantify them all. The fact the author that I believe is female is as addicted to marvel superhero's as myself. The short quick chapters that change timeframe and give you all the background on the characters. You just want to keep reading to see what has happened to these characters and how their lives develop. The character development of these characters is the real strength of this book. Not just the two lead characters but the supporting cast. They are all well developed and likeable flaws and all.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and am definitely going to be looking for more from this author. If you like superhero's, good character development and a good story that is quick and easy to read then I must urge you to pick this up.

"Victor was the first to speak, and when he did, it was with an eloquence and composure perfectly befitting the situation."
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5.0 out of 5 stars a superhero story like no other, but so much more, 21 Feb. 2015
This review is from: Vicious (Kindle Edition)
This book is dark. Hella dark. Vicious pulls no punches, is willing to go into the darkest reaches of the human mind, and is brutal in its honesty. I read a 100 page sample of it eons ago, and loved it then, but having the full book is so much better.

Vicious is tense and gritty and an unpredictable take on superheroes. Reading it is kind of like being repetitively run over by a car. It's shock after shock after shock, wrapped up in emotional turmoil and trauma.

My favourite thing of this book is Victor. I can't even pinpoint what I love about him; it's something about his morals and his loyalty, his secrets and honesty, his unforgiving nature and his compassion. I've never read a character like Victor. I'd like to say something about the other characters, Sydney and Dol and Mitch, but I can't figure out how to say what I want. This book has confused my words to such a strange extent.

To sum: Sinister and honest, Vicious is a superhero story like no other, but so much more than that.
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5.0 out of 5 stars I was really intrigued by the premise of this book ..., 25 Nov. 2014
This review is from: Vicious (Hardcover)
I was really intrigued by the premise of this book. Twisted people (psychopaths even) who acquire superpowers through near death experiences, witch also leads to interesting, though far from likeable, characters.

The story is well written and engaging, constantly alternating between flashbacks and the present time in the narrative, building up to the climax of the final encounter between the main characters. It is a fast addictive read, I couldn't put it down until I was finished.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The subtle balance between right and wrong, 22 Jan. 2014
By 
Max V. (Noord-Holland, The Netherlands) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Vicious (Paperback)
One sentence in this book pretty much sums up all of the characters in it: "there are no good men in this game". That is not to say that they are evil, quite the contrary, they all have their own, sensible reasons for what they are doing. None of them are so black-and-white that you could call them good or evil. These aren't superheroes or villains, they are people trying to act the way they believe to be best. And just like all humans, the make mistakes as well. It is a story about morality, faith and choice.

The story switches back and forth between the present and the past, so that on the hand you slowly begin to understand the actions in the present and on the other hand learn the repercussions of their choices made in the past. All the while Ms. Schwab is careful not to make any character into the hero or the villain, leaving it up to the reader as to whom to side with.

The world created by Ms. Schwab is dark, yet believable. It is a world where alongside the normal populace there is also a small secret group of people with special powers, called ExtraOrdinaries. Victor and Eli's research in this group leads to Victor's imprisonment and to Eli's quest to eradicate every last one of them. Once Victor gets out he is determined to stop him.

It is not a pleasant place, yet draws you in. The story is filled with unusual situations and even more unusual relationships, making it an interesting read. The dialogues are well-written and thought-provoking. It never felt like anything that was written down was unnecessary or out of place. And it also poses some interesting ethical questions. With "what makes a person good or evil?" being the main one.

The book is definitely worthy of your time and it is probably only a matter of time before we get a film adaptation.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great take on the superhero genre, 15 Feb. 2015
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This review is from: Vicious (Paperback)
Great take on the superhero genre. You could read this, Lavie Tidhar's The Violent Century and Austin Grossman's Soon I Will be Invincible and feel jolly pleased with yourself.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing book! Would definitely recommend for people who enjoy ..., 2 Nov. 2014
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This review is from: Vicious (Paperback)
Amazing book! Would definitely recommend for people who enjoy the superhero genre. It arrived quickly and in great condition, and the story was excellent.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very human superheroes, 20 Jan. 2014
By 
D. Harris (Oxford, UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Vicious (Paperback)
VE Schwab's book introduces a universe where individuals endowed with superpowers - "EOs" or "ExtraOrdinaries" - are more common than you'd expect (common enough for the police to have protocols for dealing with them) and a natural subject for medical student Eli to study. With his friend Victor, he therefore devises a way to create such beings, and puts it to the test.

But the process necessary to become an EO leaves something missing, something different. Lives and personalities are disrupted as a result. There is a cost. Schwab's super-women and -men don't, in general, see themselves as heroes or villains, fight crime or seek power, instead they turn inwards and even become self destructive. There are no blacks or whites in this book: the plot very much turns on haunted, shocked people playing out their hurt and puzzlement - but on a grand scale, since they have godlike abilities.

So Eli and Victor's meddling sets off a series of events that puts Victor in prison, shatters their friendship and sets up an inevitable confrontation between the two. As the time gets closer and closer to midnight, the feud gathers pace and both gather allies - EO and non EO.

Schwab creates a realistic world that is also very strange and convincing protagonists (who are also very strange).
Many seem to have problems with their parents. Victor's whose mother and father write self-help books which he then defaces. Serena and Sydney, sisters who become entangled in the ex-friends' struggle, seem on their own. Eli, who becomes increasingly unstable, seeing himself as having a divine mission to destroy EOs, has his own scars.

It's a mark of just how good Schwab's writing that - while most of the characters are, objectively, pretty unpleasant people (except perhaps Sydney) - one comes to sympathise with them all, and while I desperately wanted to see how the story turned out, I didn't want it to end and I didn't want to see either Eli or Vic defeated - or to see any of the others suffering any more than they already had.

A fine and original book.
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Vicious by V. E. Schwab (Paperback - 10 Jan. 2014)
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