Vicious by V.E. Schwab
Tor | September 24, 2013
What. the HELL. That book was… I don’t even know. I have never read a book quite like Vicious before! It was enthralling, and dreadful at the same time!
The first thing everyone should know about Vicious is there aren’t really any ‘good’ guys. This is the story of a sociopath and a narcissist who start out as best friends, and then become mortal enemies. Yet, somehow you wind up routing for one of these villains, even though you know it’s messed up. I can’t quite say I ‘cared’ about him, because he’s not that kind of character, but I definitely wanted him to come out on top.
Actually, what I really wanted was a happy ending, which would be the two of them coming out on top together. As I said, this is the story of ex-best friends, and we get that story too. The plot was one that jumps back and forth throughout time. One chapter will be present day, the next chapter would be 10 years ago, then the following chapter would be just the previous week. Normally the inconsistency would drive me insane, but I think it was actually the magic behind Vicious. It was because of the regular time jumps we got action right at the beginning, and we also had the opportunity to read Eli and Victor’s friendship for ourselves. I almost preferred reading them as friends more than I did reading them as enemies, and I knew that meant I wouldn’t get a happy ending. It’s the part of reading Vicious that felt dreadful. I didn’t want one friend to hurt the other.
Somehow, even though I didn’t want it, the ending we got was absolutely perfect. I should have known what Victoria Schwab had up her sleeve was far cleverer than anything I could think up. There was almost a symmetry to this book. The end balanced out the beginning perfectly, and set up for what I think is going to be a phenomenal sequel in Vengeful.
There was one small teeny tiny thing I’d change about the pacing of Vicious, not to be nitpicky. I wish as much attention had been paid to Victor and Eli as enemies as was given to them as friends. I felt the strength of their connection when they were best friends, and I would have loved to see more of the flipside of that connection as enemies. Basically I think their interactions were rushed through and glossed over, when things fell apart. I’ve never felt that way about any other Schwab story. I know she’s pretty darn good at writing relationships and connections, but somehow it felt weaker in the second half. Other than that, this was another excellent story by one friggin excellent author.