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Vicious by Victoria Schwab {4 Stars}

Vicious by Victoria Schwab turns the superhero story on it’s head with near death experiences being necessary to develop superpowers, and those superpowers being determined by your last thoughts as you are dying. Not to mention that our protagonist seems to be evil and the villain at first glance appears to be the hero. I love gray characters :D.

Note: I received Vicious from the fantabulous Pabkins!

Vicious by Victoria Schwab {4 Stars}

Vicious by Victoria Schwab
Published by Tor Books on September 24th, 2013
Genres: Adult, Sci-fi
Page Length: 368 pages
How I got my copy: Purchased
IndieBound - Book Depository - Goodreads
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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?

4 Stars


  • Right from the beginning of Vicious, we are forced to question who is the good guy and who the villain. All of the characters we are presented with have a darkness to them, so it really boils down to gray: there is no good guy and I love it!
  • I love love love the way Vicious handles superpowers and their acquisition. I was so intrigued as Victor started to uncover how an ExtraOrdinary person came to exist and the connection between last thoughts and powers was beautifully subtle and fresh.
  • All of Vicious consists of a number of timelines from ten years ago to two days ago to this morning. Those are the actual titles of the each of the timelines that we get at the beginning of chapters. I love this technique for identifying timelines since it gives such an eerie feeling of “This is happening right now and you don’t even know it!”
  • Science fiction stories are always hard-pressed to impress me since I study science for a living. However, Vicious succeeded in using just enough actual science to justify the superpower acquisition process that I was quite happy to suspend my disbelief about the rest. Quite refreshing to find!
  • It was so freaking fun finding out what every ExtraOrdinary’s superpower was and how that power reflected their personality and last thoughts. While some of the powers were your typical healing, etc, figuring out what thought elicited said power was so exciting.


  •  There were several moments in Vicious where I was hoping for some cool twist and ended up with a quite predictable plot progression. I think some of this disappointment stems from the uber-hype that I ran into before starting Vicious, so you’ve been warned!
  • I had a bit of trouble keeping the timelines straight, especially as they started getting closer together and involving the same characters. You’ll not want to put Vicious down for too long.
  • I can’t explain this weakness all that well without a minor spoiler, but remember how we talked about all those bookish pet peeves? There is something in Vicious that was on A LOT of lists, but it isn’t too bad >.>.


Vicious astounded me with how fresh and original it was able to make the superhero tropes. Throw in a whole bunch of dark and grey characters and I’m in love ;-). While I kind of wish there was a sequel scheduled, I also feel like Vicious was just the right amount of story for me. It’s so easy with superhero worlds to keep making more and more powers, but then things start to get formulaic. Vicious had just the right number of ExtraOrdinary characters to showcase clever powers without getting cliche. Basically, Vicious lives up to the hype, but it’s strengths lie in creative ideas, not so much uber crazy plot twists ;-). But can someone explain the cover and title to me now?

4 Stars
Anya from On Starships and Dragonwings

– Anya


 Vicious by Victoria Schwab

© 2014, Anya. All rights reserved.


  1. I am SO excited to read this one! Even more excited because Schwab will be at an author event close enough for me to make this month. Nice review!
    Kel recently posted…Discussion: Reevaluating Book RatingsMy Profile

  2. Luckily, I read this one a little before it came out but I can see how major hype could have lead to being disappointed with some aspects with this one. I am pumped that you enjoyed it overall though! They greyness of the characters was a real highlight for me – I loved being kept guessing and wondering who exactly I should be rooting for. And YES the way they all got their powers was so cool! *Just* plausible enough to keep you wondering… Fantastic review girl ^^
    Micheline @ Lunar Rainbows Reviews recently posted…Review: The Assassin and the EmpireMy Profile

    • Oo nice! Though I think I wouldn’t have picked it up if it wasn’t for the hype since I couldn’t figure out how awesome it was originally *fail* ;-)

  3. I want it. I want it. I want it. I want it. I want it. I want it.

    Superheroes that you keep wondering if they are villains..and vice versa..can it get any better?!? ..I have to start reading more Sci-Fi…
    Emilee recently posted…Thoughts from the Chaos: Why I Love the NightMy Profile

  4. Your right the cover doesn’t really go that well, but the title I think it kind of goes with how vicious they both are? I’m glad you enjoyed it…you have to tell me what you mean by that last spoiler weakness. Since its not a spoiler for me!
    pabkins recently posted…Tour: The Book of Apex – Michael Pevzner on Role Playing Games in WritingMy Profile

    • Hehe, that seems a strange reason for a title, but who am I to judge? ;-)

      The last point is regarding what happens to the dog >.>

  5. I really enjoyed this one as well. I’ve yet to review it (read for fun) and I’m not sure I will just because I don’t think I have anything else to add! I totally agree with all that you’ve said here…especially about how awesome it was to be in the grey area of good and bad. I loved the questioning of who was ‘good’ or not. Great review Anya!

    • I hear you on reviewing for fun books. Since I’m getting through more books that I can really post reviews for on the blog, I’ve stopped reviewing for fun books for the most part if they’ve already been reviewed a bunch.

  6. Bec @ Ransom Reads says:

    I just ordered this a few days ago and I can’t wait for it to arrive. I don’t think I’ve read a bad review about it. Grey characters are always the most interesting to read about and the ones I love most. And it sucks that there aren’t big shocking twists that could have made the story better, but sometimes predictability can be a nice change of pace (though I think with this type of story I’d much prefer twists)

    Can’t wait until this gets in my hands :D (I’ve been wanting to read more superhero stuff since I finished Steelheart a few weeks ago). Good to hear it lives up to the hype for the most part!
    Bec @ Ransom Reads recently posted…King’s Ransom: The Book ThiefMy Profile

    • Omg it’ll be perfect to go along with your Steelheart wishes :D It’s just so much fun finding out how they get their powers, mwahahaha

  7. Yay, I’m so glad you liekd this one, even if you didn’t enjoy it quite as much as I did. I think it helped that I was basically shut in from a snowstorm, with no company aside from this book, so I got to read it almost completely in one sitting. That means the timelines didn’t confuse me as much. I’m confused a bit by your final bullet point under Weaknesses — care to explain to me? (I’d be happy to discuss in email if you want to avoid spoilers in the comments.)

    As for the title and cover… Well, I dunno about the title, but the cover? That’s totally Victor standing on his hotel balcony, isn’t it? :D
    Kelley (Another Novel Read) recently posted…Important Announcement! (& Book Bloggery Week-in-Review #48)My Profile

    • That would definitely be helpful! Haha, the last point is what happens to the puppy dog ;-)

      Agreed that it’s Victor on the balcony, but why is it all orange??

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