Review: Vicious by V.E. Schwab


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CW’s: Violence, Torture, Murder, Graphic Suicide Attempts (!!!)


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?

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Trenn Kopie


“But these words people threw around – humans, monsters, heroes, villains – to Victor it was all just a matter of semantics. Someone could call themselves a hero and still walk around killing dozens. Someone else could be labeled a villain for trying to stop them. Plenty of humans were monstrous, and plenty of monsters knew how to play at being human.” 

I love Victor Vale SO much 💗!!! He’s my favorite murdery boy!! That may sound a bit weird as he’s literally a sociopath and murderer, but there is something very fascinating about Victor Vale. We first see him at college back then and I loved how we are immediately introduced to his habit of blotting out words in his parent’s guidebooks to form a senctence with the remaining words. It’s clear that he was very independent from pretty much the beginning, as his parents never really cared what he did and were away from 99% of the time. What’s really fascinating about Victor is that he’s a very calculating, analytical person and you immediately see that he doesn’t really get human emotions. He studies them and manages to replicate them, according to what people expects, but he has always been this way. That perfectly ties in with his self after the near death experience: Victor has always been disconnected  from emotions, so it’s not surprise that he feels like something is missing afterwards. I think with the EO’s there always has to be the potential for a dark side beforehand and tha was certainly true about victor. He’s not a warm and fuzzy guy, he is cunning, ambitious and basically the perfect Slytherin. However, it was a bit concerning how much you could relate to him in the beginning, when Eli started his research on EO’s and he was determined not to get pushed aside as the sidekick. He wanted to matter too, he didn’t want to be sidelined and be considered second choice. Later on, he’s driven by revenge, but Victor is a patient man and has been plotting it for over 10 years then.

“Because you don’t think I’m a bad person,” he said. “And I don’t want to prove you wrong.”

I was also living for their found family relationship with Sydney and Mitch. I loved Sydney, she is this young girl who meets Victor after almost getting killed (a second time) and has a very unique gift. You could see that she was still young a bit naive at times, but also had that same dark side as every EO. It was very refreshing to have such a young child (I think she is 11) in the cast, as you still see that she is not grown up, even though she had to be strong at such a small age with the near death experience and all. Then we have Mitch, who is probably the only remotely good person in the entire novel, as he is just plain human and a gentle giant. We learn a bit more about how he became a prison buddy for Victor, but for him it’s mostly “wrong time, wrong place” (to the point where he believes himself cursed with bad luck)and then a bit of spite, as everyone always expected the worst of him. Mitch is really the good soul between Sydney and Victor and I loved the dynamic the three of them had. Victor is not the emotional type, but Mitch and him became close in prison and striked an alliance, so now they are both working together. Mitch knows when to leave his friend be, but is always at his side. When Sydney joins them, Mitch is the first to make her feel welcome and be kind to her. Victor a bit less so, as he sees her power as something great to use. But as the story goes on he begins to care for her … and later literally adopts her, you know it’s true (I’ll fight for Dad!Victor). I love when a morally grey person accidentally adopts a child, it’s one of my favorite tropes. I LOVE the found family here so much!

“Serena hadn’t told Sydney to go home. She hadn’t told her to run away. She told her to go somewhere safe. And over the course of the last week, safe had ceased to be a place for Sydney, and had become a person. Specifically, safe had become Victor.”

my HEART 😭💕💗💕💗

Trenn Kopie

On a different note, both Eli and Serena were very fascinating characters as well. They are the kind of people you love to hate, as both are terrible in their own way. Eli is pretty much a religious person and believes he’s above everyone else, chosen by god for his mission and whatnot. It definitely made his approach to kill all other EO’s very interesting, as he saw himself as a savior of god, while being one of the EO’s himself. Like a hunter of his own kind, only that Eli believes he is above the others like him, because his power is not as offensive. I always liked Victor better, but what I love about Eli is that he seems to be so friendly and charismatic, but even then Victor saw the cracks in his character, the hidden monster inside. Eli was never a good person to begin with, he was just very good at hiding that dark part of his, which is so fascinating. I love a well-crafted character like that, who has many different facades that he puts on.

Serena is also a deeply fascinating character. I cannot say that I really liked her, but her character was so well-written and managed to hook me in. She can do literally everything she wants and is not afraid to use others to gain what she wans. What I loved is how she played Eli and how quickly she took control, showing that he was superior. You don’t want to mess with her. However, I liked that we saw her struggles as well, especially with the fact that when others vive you everything, there is rarely a challenge anymore, so Serena often felt a bit hollow. She also still does care for her sister somehow. Overall, she’s a very complicated person as well.

In general, I loved the talk about good vs. evil, hero vs. villain. There is a lot of discussion about that and I liked that the lines were blurred. No one of the characters (except Mitch maybe) was what you could consider a ‘good person’ or a hero. But then again, what makes a good person? Everyone did good, but also did bad. No one really was a hero, but who the villain was depended on who you asked. I love when the lines are not as clear between who is good and who is bad, especially here it was neither. No one is truly good or bad and both sides of the story were not hero or villain. It was more complicated than that. Everyone had their own motivation and in the end I liked how there were a lot of grey areas instead of a strict black and white thinking.

Trenn Kopie

I’ve also got to say that the world building was so interesting. The main premise is about the EO’s (ExtraOrdinaries) and how Victor and Eli discovered them and became one. I love how science was incorporated to explain how the EO’s came into being – through having a near death experience, but with certain circumstances – it made this very plausible and interesting! As both main characters are good with science, we got to see their discussion and exploring the topic in the beginning, which served as a great way for us to discover this with them without any info-dumping. This world building was just very refreshing to me and I found it both interesting and absolutely horrific, as this is a lot about death and suicide (so definitely beware!!! Vic and Eli are explicitly discussing how to kill themselves in order to become EO and the descriptions are pretty graphic!). I also liked how the powers related to what your last through where as you died and that there was a cost. All of our EO’s feel like there is something missing in their life, a lack of feeling or conscience, which I loved to see.

The plot worked really well and had lots of great suspense. I thought that the flashbacks worked perfectly, because they introduced us to Eli and Victor’s beginnings and the EO, but also cut to present day, making us wonder what had happened for things to turn out this way. I was a bit confused in the beginning, but as I read on, I really started to figure things out and would understand things in hindsight. I was equally thrilled for both timelines and was immediately hooked. I wanted to know what Eli and Victor 10 years ago were up to, but also understand what was happening right now. Later we see more of how everyone is doing in the present day and I loved seeing how everything connected in the end. There was definitely lots of  suspense, as we slowly neared the showdown between Eli and Victor. The really thrilling thing was that we knew both were very close, in the same city, so the possibility of them meeting each other was high. I definitely loved how the story was crafted!

IN CONCLUSION: Vicious was the perfect book about villains. It explores the question what makes a hero and what makes a villain. None of the main characters are good people, so we have a lot of grey areas to explore. I love me an all Slytherin cast of characters! I also love Victor Vale and his accidental found family, yes please!

Talk Kopie

Have you read Vicious? Who is your favorite character? 


15 thoughts on “Review: Vicious by V.E. Schwab

  1. I’m really glad you enjoyed this book Caro. Vicious is probably my second favourite of V.E. Schwab’s series (after the Shades of Magic trilogy) and I was so excited when I heard there was going to be a second book.
    The found family trope is a favourite of mine I’ll admit, and the dynamic between Victor, Sydney and Mitch was one of my favourite parts of this book. I think in general I loved all the relationships V.E. Schwab wrote in this book; the dynamic between Victor and Eli was a favourite, both seeing them back in their uni days and in the present with Victor now hunting Eli down.
    Great review, and if you haven’t already read it I hope you really enjoy Vengeful. 🙂 ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I just read this at the exact perfect time as I didn’t have to wait for the second book to come out 😎 This has to be my fave Schwab book, I just love it so much! 😍
      Their dynamic was my favorite part as well, I just loved their found family, it warmed my heart and just made me so happy, I love all of them so much 💗 Yes, there was so much great content! All the dynamics and characters were so interesting and well-written, I’m still in awe!
      Thank you! I plant to read Vengeful as soon as I get it 🙂 ❤️

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I loved reading your review! So thought-through and comprehensive. I read Vicious in the summer and I haven’t felt desperate to pick up Vengeful but suddenly it all came back to me and now I really want to pick up Vengeful soon! Are you planning to pick it up soon?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much!! 💗 I’m dying to get my hands of Vengeful, but I’ll have to wait for after Christmas, as it was on my wishlist! However, it will be the first book on my TBR for 2019 😍 (and then I’ll reread Vicious of course 😄)


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