Review – Vicious by V.E. Schwab

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Title: Vicious
Author: V.E Schwab
Publisher: Titan
Publication Date: September 2013

My rating:

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Just finished Vicious, and let me tell you I LOVED this book.

“Well, when you wonder something’, said Eli, ‘doesn’t that mean that part of you wants to believe in it? I think we want to prove things, in life, more than we want to disprove them. We want to believe.”

Vicious by V.E Schwab

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed myself whilst reading Vicious, and I found myself appreciating the themes explored by Schwab as the story progressed. Coming off the back of reading a very plot-driven novel I greatly appreciated the depth and intricate character building that drives the novel. Specifically for Vicious, Schwab has managed to create exceptionally morally grey characters that as a reader you still cannot fully dislike. Personally, I find this a thin line to walk in books – between creating characters that are just plain dislikable, and characters that you know you should dislike … but you just can’t. 


The major theme that Schwab explored, and that I kept coming back and questioning, was what makes a hero and a villain. As the series is titled ‘Villains’ maybe I should have expected this, but I was not prepared for the depth to which the book explores this age old question. Along with this, religion was another pivotal theme, how it influences both the deeply devout and those who have no religious beliefs. I don’t want to delve into too much detail and spoil the story; but I had moments where I just stopped and absorbed the questions that were being raised by Schwab concerning what makes a hero/villain, and who decides?

“A hero. Wasn’t he? Heroes saved the world from villains, from evil. Heroes sacrificed themselves to do it. Was he not bloodying his hands and his soul to set the world right? Did he not sacrifice himself every time he stripped away an EO’s stolen life?”

Vicious by V.E Schwab


As I mentioned the character development is the major driver of the story. Both Victor and Eli quickly and clearly become morally grey. The more toxic sides of friendship are excellently handled, and the motives driving each are, in a rather worrying way, realistic. There is a lot of jealousy, envy and pride in both the characters; and it was refreshing to explore characters through their faults, rather than their strengths.

In addition to Victor and Eli, I quickly became attached to the other characters that make their way into the story. 

Structure and Story:

The pacing and organisation of the story was incredibly well written. The story remains dynamic throughout the entire novel, and I particularly enjoyed the cyclical nature of both the first and last chapters.  

The plot and magic aspect was also ingenious; particularly in the exploration and explanation as to how powers were acquired. I definitely was left thinking how I would manipulate the situation to get a specific power! 

Well that leaves me with the decision on whether to start the next book, knowing that the 3rd book in the series will probably not be released until 2023 😢
Honestly, I just want to read more! If you were thinking of picking this book up I highly recommend it. Schwab has managed to take the villain/hero trope and completely twist it in an original way. 

Happy reading,

Lily x

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