Vicious by V.E. Schwab [book review]

Vicious coverVicious by V.E. Schwab
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Release Date:  September 24th 2013
Publisher: Tor
Series: n/a

Goodreads description: A masterful, twisted tale of ambition, jealousy, betrayal, and superpowers, set in a near-future world.

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?

In Vicious, V. E. Schwab brings to life a gritty comic-book-style world in vivid prose: a world where gaining superpowers doesn’t automatically lead to heroism, and a time when allegiances are called into question.

Villains! I had heard a few things about this book before it came out and was vaguely excited that someone was writing about the bad guys because bad guys are interesting! When it came out, I am pretty sure I only saw positive things about it. I know Eve at Paper Grey loved it, though I haven’t read her review (I can’t do that with highly anticipated books because I’m weird). All the glowing made me even more excited for it!

Victor has always been a bit of an outsider. When he meets Eli in college, he sees everything he wishes her could be. They become friends, but Victor is jealous. As Eli begins to research extra-ordinary abilities that appear in traumatized individuals, both friends get deeply invested, and things end badly. Ten years later, Victor has escaped from prison and is out for revenge.

Victor is such a compelling character. He’s got issues, but he knows he has issues. He isn’t worried about societal views of right and wrong, but he has his own code. He wasn’t exactly someone I sympathized with, but I understood his motivation. It was kind of a nice change as a reader not having to rundown if something is right or wrong, knowing that the character wasn’t aiming to be a good person anyway. His drive and the characterization of his malevolence is rather thrilling. Eli, his nemesis, is a contrast because he’s messed up and has his own issues, but he believes he is doing the right thing. Aren’t bad guys that believe wholeheartedly that they are doing the right thing extremely terrifying? Surprisingly, one of my favorite characters is 12-year-old Sydney, a girl Victor happens upon and recruits for his cause. She is dealing with her own demons while she joins two escaped prisoners. She’s smart and easy to sympathize with, and even though there were reasons to give her sympathy, she wasn’t a depressing character. She’s just awesome.

The story jumps in time, but I never felt lost or confused. The labeling helped with that, but I think the narration did, too. Everything felt like it was in place and timed just right. There were also some characters that were a part of the story early on, but didn’t actually get a point of view until later in the book, and usually I am kind of annoyed by that tactic because it tends to feel sloppy, but it felt so natural and right for the this story. The story is also centered around things that require suspension of belief, but unlike some books, it isn’t exhausting because the characters are realistic. Their actions and reactions feel like things that could actually happen when faced with abnormal situations, which really makes all the difference in stories with any sort of paranormal aspect. Plus, there was at least one time when a character brought up something like “why not just do this?” and it was so clever and the answer supplied was clever and fitting. There was one thing that was king of easy to predict early on, but for the rest of the story I figuring everything out, which is important for me.

I wasn’t hooked from the very beginning. I was interested, but I wasn’t in love. It took me a bit longer than I expected to read it, which was probably more my fault than anything else. Once I got into it, I started liking it more and more. I was pretty sure it would be a solid 4 stars, but the last 100 pages or so really jumped out and grabbed me.

4.5 star rating

Vicious is a wickedly delicious view into the lives of the not-so-virtuous. It’s intense and complex but easy to follow. The characters are realistic and easy to care about. I read and reviewed The Archived and I really enjoyed it, and this book is fantastic, so I will be interested in anything Schwab writes from now on! I recommend Vicious if you like lovely writing, great characters, questionable morals, and powers/abilities!

V.E. Schwab‘s website and twitter

Review: Golden by Jessi Kirby

Golden coverGolden by Jessi Kirby
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Release Date:  May 14th 2013
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Series:  n/a!

Goodreads description:Seventeen-year-old Parker Frost has never taken the road less traveled. Valedictorian and quintessential good girl, she’s about to graduate high school without ever having kissed her crush or broken the rules. So when fate drops a clue in her lap—one that might be the key to unraveling a town mystery—she decides to take a chance.

Julianna Farnetti and Shane Cruz are remembered as the golden couple of Summit Lakes High—perfect in every way, meant to be together forever. But Julianna’s journal tells a different story—one of doubts about Shane and a forbidden romance with an older, artistic guy. These are the secrets that were swept away with her the night that Shane’s jeep plunged into an icy river, leaving behind a grieving town and no bodies to bury.

Reading Julianna’s journal gives Parker the courage to start to really live—and it also gives her reasons to question what really happened the night of the accident. Armed with clues from the past, Parker enlists the help of her best friend, Kat, and Trevor, her longtime crush, to track down some leads. The mystery ends up taking Parker places that she never could have imagined. And she soon finds that taking the road less traveled makes all the difference

Parker lives according to her mom’s should. She should study all the time, work hard, be valedictorian, get a scholarship, and become a doctor. She should devote her life to her future. Parker’s best friend Kat has a different idea of should. She thinks Parker should do something unexpected, something wild. Senior year is ending and life as Parker knows it is changing. When she finds the journal of a missing icon of the community, she begins to find her own version of should.

Each year an English teacher assigns his senior students a journal to write about what they plan to do with their lives. Ten years later he mails students their journals. They get to look back and see how much they’ve changed and what was important to them in the past. This year, Parker is his assistant and mails the journals for him. What she doesn’t expect to see is Julianna Farnetti’s journal. She knows she shouldn’t read the journal, but she can’t resist. Julianna and Shane were golden and special. They went missing ten years ago at the end of their senior year. Everyone thinks they died and ended up at the bottom of the lake because that’s where the car they were in was found.

Reading journal entries written in the weeks before Julianna’s famous disappearance, Parker finds herself relating to the words of a town legend. Julianna followed expectations but wanted more for herself. The more Parker reads, the closer she feels to the missing girl. She becomes emotionally involved with Julianna’s story. Parker also learns more about Julianna’s life and starts questioning the circumstances of her disappearance. With the help of Kat and Trevor, the boy Parker’s always wanted, she seeks out to find the truth.

I like Parker a lot. She’s easy to relate to and feets realistic. The way she interacts with Kat, Trevor, and her mom feel real. I got frustrated with her for not being able to see certain things, but only because I was really invested. Throughout the story, she learns a lot about herself. She decides to make changes in her life and go after what she really wants. Parker really looks inside herself and definitely grows. She makes mistakes, she accepts them and she moves on.

Parker’s relationships add a lot to the story. I really liked Kat, too. All fictional best friends are not equal, and Kat is exciting and wild but very supportive. It’s easy to see that she really wants the best for her friend. I am also very fond of Trevor. He is genuine and sweet. In the beginning, he kind of seemed like a jerk but he quickly grew on me. I love the romance in this book, and that the book isn’t only about romance. Parker’s mom was infuriating at times, and there were door slamming arguments that really added authenticity to the high school age.

There were a few things that weren’t perfect for me that are hard to talk about without spoiling. Some things didn’t seem realistic to me, which was annoying but I still loved this book. When I took a break from reading, it stayed on my mind the whole time. It’s a book that I ended up dwelling on in a good way. I can see myself pushing it on friends and wanting to reread it sometime! I also want to read Jessi Kirby’s other books, In Honor and Moonglass now!

4.5 star rating

Check out Jessi Kirby’s website and twitter!

Book Review: The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

The Raven Boys book coverThe Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater
Goodreads|Book Depository
Release Date: September 18th 2012
Publisher: Scholastic
Series: Raven Cycle #1
Rating:

Goodreads description:“There are only two reasons a non-seer would see a spirit on St. Mark’s Eve,” Neeve said. “Either you’re his true love . . . or you killed him.”

It is freezing in the churchyard, even before the dead arrive.

Every year, Blue Sargent stands next to her clairvoyant mother as the soon-to-be dead walk past. Blue herself never sees them—not until this year, when a boy emerges from the dark and speaks directly to her.

His name is Gansey, and Blue soon discovers that he is a rich student at Aglionby, the local private school. Blue has a policy of staying away from Aglionby boys. Known as Raven Boys, they can only mean trouble.

But Blue is drawn to Gansey, in a way she can’t entirely explain. He has it all—family money, good looks, devoted friends—but he’s looking for much more than that. He is on a quest that has encompassed three other Raven Boys: Adam, the scholarship student who resents all the privilege around him; Ronan, the fierce soul who ranges from anger to despair; and Noah, the taciturn watcher of the four, who notices many things but says very little.

For as long as she can remember, Blue has been warned that she will cause her true love to die. She never thought this would be a problem. But now, as her life becomes caught up in the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys, she’s not so sure anymore.

From Maggie Stiefvater, the bestselling and acclaimed author of the Shiver trilogy and The Scorpio Races, comes a spellbinding new series where the inevitability of death and the nature of love lead us to a place we’ve never been before

I love this book so much that this review is probably way too long and probably includes some rambling. I’ve been in kind of a slump lately, so it was good to read a book I really enjoyed! For some reason, even though I’d been looking forward to this book for a while, I didn’t know this was the beginning of a series until I was reading it. Oops!

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