Vicious (Villains, #1) by V.E. Schwab

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

Friends, this is my fifth book by VE Schwab, and I’ve three starred every single one of them. At this point, it is glaringly obvious that you should take my review(s) of her work with a grain of salt, because it is obviously a “me” thing. I will say that I adore the author, and I want so desperately to fall in love with a book of hers. And even though I thought Vicious would be the one, it sadly wasn’t.

But this is a book about two college roommates who are literally experimenting with life and death and that tiny, minuscule, grey area in-between. Ten years later, a story of revenge, heartbreak, and anger is born. Yet, we still get glimpses into what happened at college ten years ago to bring these current ramifications into fruition.

“I want to believe that there’s more. That we could be more. Hell, we could be heroes.”

This book does raise the fascinating question, both in literature and in real life: what makes a hero and what makes a villain? Is it just the light the story is told in? Is the difference that monumental? Is it only a matter of perspective? Victor and Eli really challenge this question, and I adored it.

Victor – Fresh out of jail and will stop at nothing to exact his revenge; the slower the better.

Sydney – My favorite character, who needs to be protected at all costs, and is just trying to find her place in a world that has constantly made her feel like she doesn’t belong.

Mitch – I highkey loved this hacker and Victor’s soft friend.

Eli – I actually hated Eli, and I think that’s the point of this book, truly, but his crisis of faith was just too much for me.

Serena – To me, Serena and Sydney were truly the bright, shining stars of this story. And Serena has the coolest power of all the EOs, in my opinion.

And these five people’s paths all cross; some because of tangled pasts, but some because of brand new beginnings. And these characters quickly prove that developing superpowers could be pretty damn frightening. Especially when the powers you develop are rooted in who you are and what you need.

One thing I do want to briefly mention that I adored was Victor’s love for blackout poetry. I’ve actually never seen a book character have a passion for it, and it really warmed my heart. Every time he would create something, it really would take my breath away. It was such a bright light in the story for me.

I read this with a few friends, and the reading was broken down over the course of five days. Day one and day five were both, easily, five star reading days. I loved the start and end of this book more than words. Again, Victoria Schwab is so intelligent, and her ideas are truly a tier above the rest. Sadly, the middle three days I just felt a bit bored, and it only got worse by day four. But the ending? God, I know I shouldn’t, but I desperately want to read Vengeful now.

I also really truly loved how the first and last chapter began. I’m always a sucker when authors mirror events and phrases throughout their book(s) and I feel like VE Schwab always successfully does this. And I get goosebumps each and every time.

Overall, I get that there is some kind of disconnect between me and this author’s books. And nothing is changing that because, believe me, I truly want to love her work so badly. Like I said above, take this review with a grain of salt because so many of my friends adore this book, and I really implore you to check out some of their amazing reviews: Em, Adriana, CW, Hari, & Mari!

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Content and trigger warnings
for talk of suicide, attempted suicide, overdosing, self-harm, drug use, murder, animal death, abandonment, and depiction of panic attacks.