Book Review: Vicious by V.E. Schwab

vicious cover

Vicious by V.E. Schwab
Goodreads | Amazon
Series: Vicious #1  
Release date: September 24, 2013
Rating: Who's bad?

Vicious is the story of two men, Victor and Eli, their discovery of and reactions to supernatural powers, and what happens after.  Let’s get this out of the way: Victor Vale is scary. Really scary.  There is a part where another character is thinking about being on Victor’s side only because the alternative would be to be in his way and that would have been too scary to contemplate.  I think that that sums up Victor’s character very well. I would be on his side for the same reason. I would also be on his side because Eli is a nutbag who needs to be stopped at all costs. 

In many ways this is the story of the genesis of a supervillain.  What really makes this interesting is that you are never quite sure who the supervillain is.  Is is Victor?  Or Eli?  Both of them do terrible things.  One aspect that I found particularly interesting to read about was their complete lack of surprise about being capable of doing terrible things.  There was no hand wringing.  BAM.  “Why yes, I am just that cold.” 

Eli and Victor are attracted to the inner stillness that they see in one another. The mask that they both wear that no one else is noticing.  I think that in many ways they start out needing one another for ego reasons.  Someone to show off too.  I think that it is a bit like Paris and Rory in Gilmore Girls when Paris says, “She’s the only one who has ever challenged me. She’s my pace car. She’s my Bjorn Borg. Without her, I’ll get lazy. I’ll fall apart. I’ll have frosted hair and dragon-lady nails and I’ll achieve nothing! I’ll become my mother!” Yup. Totally, Victor and Eli.

I also really enjoyed the supporting characters.  Serena basically had being a manipulative collage girl as a superpower.  It was both creepy and fascinating.  It reminded me of Kilgrave in Jessica Jones except with female sexualization (that is so a word) undertones. I was more scared of her than of any other character because she has the ability to turn you against yourself.   I enjoyed Sydney, Serena’s twelve year old sister.  I wish that there had been more Mitch.  But it looks as if there is a sequel coming.  At some point.  And there is already a prequel which I will be all over as soon as I finish writing this.  MOAR NOW. 

This is the first book that I have read by VE/Victoria Schwab. It is marketed as an adult book but you can see the lines blurring here.  There is nothing that makes this particularly adult aside from the fact that the main character is an adult man.  There are some violent and disturbing situations but no more than in A Torch Against the Night

I don’t read books told from the villain’s point of view very often.  Wait.  Not the villain.  I mean, I am totally on Victor’s side which makes him the hero.  I am pretty sure that he wouldn’t kill Sydney or allowed her to be killed.  How about I say, “I don’t read books from the point of view of morally very dark gray characters very often.”? But I definitely liked it. 

If you like anti-heros or villainous main characters I definitely recommend this book to you.

From 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?

Are you a fan of anti-heros? Villains as the main character?  Morally gray area?

Book review: This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab

This Savage Song cover

This Savage Song
By Victoria Schwab
Series: Monsters of Verity #1
Release date: July 16th, 2016

I am wondering why it has taken me until this month to actually read Victoria Schwab’s  stuff.  What was I putting it off for?  “Look Tara!  Morally gray characters doing all of the awesome things!” “No Thank you, internet. I’ll have none of that.”  Sometimes, I wonder about my past self… Clearly, I am a hopeless.  But I have seen the light.

Victor is a monster who longs to be human. Kate is a human who is trying to become a monster.  They aren’t really a couple, although I think they have chemistry.  They aren’t really enemies although they are on opposite sides of the war.  They are kind of thrown together accidentally on purpose and then all Hell breaks loose. I liked both of them but I wouldn’t say that they are characters that are going to stick with me.  I wonder if it has to do with not being able to relate to them. 

There do not seem to be “good guys” in this book.  There are bad people/monsters and even worse people and monsters.  It is a little disconcerting because it makes it very difficult to choose a side.  Usually when two characters are on opposite sides of the conflict both sides have good intentions.  I don’t think that is the case here.  Both sides want control and order but only with themselves in charge.

I found the paranormal music aspect of the book really interesting.  Music influences out emotions and opinions all the time.  It was interesting to think about it not only as means of influence but also as a weapon, a tool for judgement.  I don’t think that this reminds me of anything that I have read before. 

It is interesting to note that although there is a strain of darkness and violence that works it’s way through this book it is not gratuitous or graphic.  The themes are dark but the book doesn’t dwell. In some ways that is because both Victor and Kate avoid thinking about or dealing with certain aspects of their lives.

This is a book of theme and mood rather than plot or characterization.  What I mean is that how the book makes you feel and it’s atmosphere are much more important than any of the characters or what is actually happening) even though there chapter cliffhangers All. The. Damn. Time.  I was propelled forward by the creepiness rather than by dazzling writing. 

One weakness that I found was the world building.  I am not sure if it has to do with the flow of the narrative, the reluctance to give too much away, or something else entirely but I still do not have a clear idea of how the world was structured, how the monsters came to being, or what the faction’s motivations were. I also thought that the entire section in the high school was not necessary.  Victor and Kate could have met a different way and the perils of high school trope could have been avoided.  These are small complaints and I still found that my overwhelming impression of the book was good.

I steamrolled through this one.  I had to know what was happening. It was creepy, readable, and fun.  It isn’t the best book that I have ever read.  It isn’t even Schwab’s best book.  I still found it well worth my time.

From Goodreads:
There’s no such thing as safe in a city at war, a city overrun with monsters. In this dark urban fantasy from author Victoria Schwab, a young woman and a young man must choose whether to become heroes or villains—and friends or enemies—with the future of their home at stake. The first of two books.

Kate Harker and August Flynn are the heirs to a divided city—a city where the violence has begun to breed actual monsters. All Kate wants is to be as ruthless as her father, who lets the monsters roam free and makes the humans pay for his protection. All August wants is to be human, as good-hearted as his own father, to play a bigger role in protecting the innocent—but he’s one of the monsters. One who can steal a soul with a simple strain of music. When the chance arises to keep an eye on Kate, who’s just been kicked out of her sixth boarding school and returned home, August jumps at it. But Kate discovers August’s secret, and after a failed assassination attempt the pair must flee for their lives.