by V. E. Schwab

Genre: YA Fantasy
Published: September 24th 2013
by Tor Teen




Victor and Eli started out as college roommates who recognized the same sharpness and ambition in each other. In their senior year, a shared research interest 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 with a stunning ability. Meanwhile, Eli is on a mission to eradicate every other super-powered person that he can find. Armed with terrible power on both sides, driven by the memory of betrayal and loss, the archnemeses have set a course for revengeβ€”but who will be left alive at the end?


Plenty of humans were monstrous, and plenty of monsters knew how to play at being human.

What makes a person “good?” What makes a person “evil?” Are some people predestined to be “evil?” In Vicious, V.E. Schwab follows the story of two men – one bad, one worse – in an attempt to answer these questions. What follows is a thrilling and thought-provoking novel about the roots of good and evil.

Once upon a time, Victor and Eli were roommates in college. Some would even say they were friends. But all that changed when Eli discovered a seemingly impossible fact: under the right circumstances, a person could develop superpowers. What follows is a case of friendship and betrayal, of ambition and jealousy.

10 years later, Victor is released from prison. And he’ll stop at nothing to make sure Eli is stopped – before he kills everyone with superpowers.

The paper called Eli a hero. The word made Victor laugh. Not just because it was absurd, but because it posed a question. If Eli was really a hero, and Victor meant to stop him, did that make him a villain?

Where this novel shines is its characters. They are all so complex and multidimensional. Victor and Eli are both fascinating and intricate. Neither one of them is completely “good”, and neither one of them is completely “evil” either. Their personalities lie in a field of gray.

Above all, this is a fascinating psychological study on what influences and motivates people and how quickly those influences and motivations can turn for the worse.


63 thoughts on “Vicious

  1. I love the way Schwab portrayed her characters as well. She didn’t really have a distinction on who’s good and who’s evil. More than anything, I think she made great points into telling us they are both and they are neither depending on how you would look at it.

    1. That’s what I loved too Joy. She reminded us that there’s no such thing as “good” and there’s no such thing as “evil,” and I found that really thought-provoking. πŸ™‚

  2. I love morally gray characters who have REAL flaws, so I was already looking forward to reading this, but gah! You’re review has made me 7x more excited about it. I love books that make me think, that explore the kinds of things you mentioned (what motivates people, what they’ll do under the right circumstances, whether it makes them good or bad, etc.), and the more complex and deep a character the better. Fantastic review πŸ™‚

    1. If you’re into the psychology behind characters, this is going to be right up your alley Kristen. πŸ™‚ Can’t wait to see what you think of it!

  3. I TOTALLY AGREE. I adore how much “grey area” it was. It was just really interesting and gah, I couldn’t even put it down and I LOVED how dimensional all the characters were. They definitely felt so so real. :’) And freaky. But awesome. Okay I officially sound like a crazy person, I’ll stop now. XD

  4. This is turning out to be one book I REALLY need to pick up! The characters sound fascinating- I always love gray characters, they are just so intriguing.Loved the review, Zoe- short and to-the-point πŸ™‚

  5. I love complexity in morality and this book certainly delivers! I like that I was not able to fully root for any of the characters except perhaps Sydney! Great review as always, Zoe <3

    1. The characters were definitely a bit hard to root for at times, but I think that’s what made the book so interesting. They all felt so real. Thanks Aentee! <3

  6. I’m glad you like VICIOUS and the way Victoria breaks down the hero/villain dichotomy we see so often in superhero films these days! I just adored this book from start to beginning. Also Sydney *squeezes my adorable cinnamon roll* Loved your gif πŸ˜€

  7. I loved this book! Yes, it is about good and evil and I really enjoyed the way the author handled it. It’s one of my favourite books by Victoria Schwab, with A Darker Shade of Magic, have you read that one? Great review Zoe πŸ™‚

    1. So glad you liked it too Lucie! And I haven’t read A Darker Shade of Magic yet, but that’s definitely on my TBR list! πŸ˜‰ Thank you!

  8. I definitely agree with everything you’ve said. Victor and Eli are both morally complex characters and I loved getting to explore the dynamic between them. I felt like I was following a game of cat and mouse haha. I’m so excited about the sequel.

  9. Ohhhh I really want to read this book! I’ve never read any V.E. Schwab and I’ve heard such goodness about her. I’m glad the characters were fabulous – characters are what make or break books for me. I’m definitely picking this one up soon!

  10. I am so looking forward to this book right now! I bought this one just a few weeks ago after missing out on it every time at the bookstore! (Literally, on two separate occasions, I see people walking around with Vicious in their arms but when I go to the V.E. Schwab section… NOTHING). But I finally have it now and I can’t wait to meet these complex and morally ambiguous characters! I’m glad that you enjoyed Vicious and I can’t wait to read it soon πŸ˜€

  11. I SO need to read this book! I love that it makes you think- any book that can really make me think is a win. And I adore a book with well developed characters too. I feel like I might own this book, but I am not 100% sure. I should look into that πŸ˜‰ Great review!

  12. I’ve been seeing this author EVERYWHERE and it has really prompted me to go purchase her books but ugh they’re all imports and expensive! I think I’ll just end up reading an eBook but definitely worth it because it sounds like her fantasy worlds are beyond fantastic. Lovely review, Zo :*

    1. The psychology behind villains is one of the most interesting things about this book, so if you’re into that definitely give this a try Adriana!

  13. OH MY GOSH this sounds amazing. And if I’m writing a Twelve Dancing Princess murder mystery I definitely need to look at the psychological aspect…basically I’m just rationalising a need to buy Vicious (because why not?).

    1. A Twelve Dancing Princesses murder mystery? OH MY GOSH THAT SOUNDS AMAZING.
      And definitely give this a try Emily – it’s amazing!

  14. I NEED to read this book! I love complex characters and I’ve been hearing such good things about Schwab’s writing that this might be a great place to start πŸ˜€ Fabulous review, Zoe!

  15. THIS IS EVERYWHERE. And soo many people are going on about ADSOM as well, I really have to check out VE Schwab’s books. They sound glorious. And the characters omg. They’re sounding both freaky and awesome and lovable at the same time. AND YASS THE INCREDIBLES GIF. Lovely review <3

  16. I’m currently reading Vicious (only a few chapters in) and I’ve heard such amazing things about the book. The fact that you highlighted the psychology and morality aspects of the book makes me even more interested and intrigued to see how the story plays out. Nice review! πŸ˜€

  17. I WANT THIS SO BAD. I’ve had this on my TBR for such a long time, but I just always missed my chance at getting it from the library (always checked out, sadface). But anyways, I love the whole superpowers theme, and developing them? What? I’m interested πŸ™‚

    Awesome review Zoe! I really really hope I find this next time I’m at the library. Or maybe there will be a Kindle deal!

    Also, is that a gif from Megamind? I think so RIGHT

  18. I agree, characters are definitely what makes this story amazing. I really, really liked it – it was my third Schwab book and cemented her as one of my all-time favourite authors.
    I also liked the pacing of the story – the switching timelines and all, it created really good tension.

  19. I absolutely love books that bring in the question of morality, and I have yet to find a book that does it quite so well as VICIOUS. It was so incredibly thought provoking, and just wonderful in every aspect.

    I loved Victor, and I think it’s because he bent the norms so much as a character, and as a “villain”. It was so awesome.

    I’m so happy that there is going to be a sequel, because I think this is one of the best books released recently, and more in this world can only be a good thing!

  20. I’ve heard a lot about this book, and it looks really good. I’ll definitely have to check it out at some point–maybe I’ll see if my library has it. I’m glad you enjoyed it! πŸ™‚

    1. It’s great when you find something that feels like it’s made for you. πŸ™‚ Glad to hear that this one feels like that for you!

  21. I like the idea of questioning what actually defines the good and the bad as just either one of those. Victoria’s writing is so popular and everyone seems to love and really enjoy her books. I can’t wait to dive in and see what it is all about for myself!

  22. I haven’t read this book, but I absolutely adored A Darker Shade of Magic. Plus the MC is a villain! I never read anything from the villain’s pov! I can’t wait to read this. Thanks for sharing Zoe! <3

  23. This sounds like such an amazing book and I really need to pick up a copy soon! I’m currently reading A Darker Shade of Magic and really enjoying it too – how have I not picked up one of her books sooner?! I’m definitely going to read all of her stuff eventually haha. Great review! πŸ˜€

  24. I discovered Victoria’s books for myself last year when I finally read The Archived and LOVED LOVED LOOOOVED it!!!! Then I read ADSOM and loved it as well, so I’ve been debating on reading Vicious too. I’m so glad you loved it Zoe! It sounds really good and the analysis on what is good, what is evil always makes for an interesting concept especially with morally ambiguous characters. Can’t wait to explore this one:)

  25. I’ve honestly been debating whether or not I wanted to read this book. I recently finished ADSOM and liked it (didn’t love it but it was good enough for me to get the sequel) so I’ve been looking at Vicious a bit more since I know a lot of people liked it. Perhaps I’ll get it after I finish A Gathering of Shadows.

  26. I’m HIGHLY biased, because I basically love everything Victoria Schwab writes, but – really – I couldn’t agree more with you, Zoe. The characters are her forte, in Vicious more than ever, and their perpetual “grayness” was a stunning reminder of that line where motivation and obsession meet up for a chat. (Or a murderous rampage, depending on the day.) I love seeing this book loved by my favorite bloggers. <3 As always – be still, my anti-hero loving heart.

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