Vicious by V. E. Schwab | Book Review

I really enjoyed this novel. It had a comic book theme built into the plot. I felt like I was watching a comic book film unfold behind my eyes. I can see this being adapted into a film.

Yet it’s entirely original in plot and characters. The two main characters, Eli and Victor, start out as college roommates/friends who share the same interests as med students. Eli was obsessed with his thesis and shared it with Victor, who became intrigued, too. The thesis was the probability of developing some type of super power from a near-death experience. They each attempt a near-death incident that is staged to see whether they will develop some type of power.

Victor’s first attempt doesn’t work. He uses a drug overdose, but after they realize that the amount of adrenaline that the body gives off has something to do with the body’s survival instinct to kick in. After Eli’s successful attempt (he freezes himself in the bathtub; Victor pours ice cubes over him, causing Eli to go into hypothermic shock and Victor waits a few minutes after Eli had died before shooting adrenaline from epipens into Eli to jumpstart his heart), Victor tries again with Eli’s girlfriend as an accomplice. He ends up succeeding, but Eli’s girlfriend dies in the process of helping Victor by controlling the voltage that she shoots into Victor.

Eli believes his power is a gift from God, therefore he still has his soul (healing and immortality), whereas everyone else that experienced death before coming back, like Victor, are missing their souls. He believes that their powers have taken the place where their souls used to be. Eli feels he has to play God and eliminate all these people whose powers aren’t pure like his. But despite the religious aspect, it isn’t preachy in the slightest.

The story’s timeline stretches out ten years and switches perspectives/times every other chapter, so you have to pay attention while reading. But it’s worth the extra focus. I’m looking forward to the sequel. I honestly would have been fine with the sort of cliffhanger that we’re left with at the end because it did still have closure, but I’m glad we get at least one more novel with these characters. The only catch is that there doesn’t seem to be a publication date yet, and the novel is so far untitled. But I think it’ll be out by next year at the latest, hopefully.

Goodreads rating: 5 stars



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