Vicious by V.E. Schwab
Solid book, not outstanding for me but I enjoyed the writing and the characters. The main plot develops from an experiment undertaken by Eli and Victor wherein they try to determine if a near death experience can give a person special powers - thus making them an EO or ExtraOrdinary. The answer is yes, this can happen. However, this quickly brings up a more difficult question - is the physical and mental cost worth the reward of a supernatural power? Eli and Victor, once great friends but now bitter enemies, take their powers in different directions. Until fate and a thirst for revenge bring them together for one final ExtraOrdinary encounter.

I liked the well-written and nicely developed characters, they were the best parts. Eli and Victor are good rivals and they do make you contemplate questions. Who is the real hero? Are good and evil just a matter of perspective? Can a hero do terrible things for a cause he believes to be just? And so on. Beyond the two mains there are Sydney and Mitch who are on Victor's team. Both are excellent sidekicks who bring their own depth and validity to the story. Eli's main squeeze is Serena who turns out to kind of be the evil queen of the book yet she never fulfills the role. This was a bit of a miss I think, Serena could easily have been a masterfully, vicious, evil character but Miss Schwab never pushed her there.

A low price on Amazon is the reason I read Vicious. I saw it for $2.99 (it's back up to $9.99 as of this writing) and knew it was by an author I was interested in, so I checked out a few reviews. All looked good so I read it, expecting to learn a bit about Miss Schwab's style before tackling her greatly anticipated newer book, A Darker Shade of Magic. I'm still very much in for that one, and plan to get to it soon, based on the creativity and word skill shown in Vicious.

However, for me, one big red flag in this book was the passive usage of suicide. I know this tragic thing exists and young people are going to find out about it and it is what it is. Moreover, I don't even think this book is pointed towards young readers. I think it's a straight adult book. So I shouldn't be worried about young people being influenced by the suicides in the book. But the characters are in their low 20s to low 30s so I think that must be somewhat the target audience. My issue is the way suicide is presented. Eli and Victor speak very nonchalantly about it and they kill themselves and then revive themselves just to see what happens. No big deal whatsoever. Suicides only happen twice and the other near death experiences that turn different characters into EOs are from natural or unnatural causes (like being drowned or shot). I feel like suicide should never be mentioned as being normal, or OK, or just a part of life. Through books, we can show that suicide is completely tragic and devastating and that a person who is contemplating it needs love, not encouragement.

So I really didn't care for that. However, it is a fairly minor part of just a couple chapters so I won't hold the whole book accountable. Overall it's a good story from a talented writer. Though there have been lots of movies already - and books - where supernatural things happen after near death. Miss Schwab does take us in a new direction with her characters coming back with super powers. And the reality of good vs evil is an interesting debate throughout the novel.

Also I should mention that it's fairly violent with plenty of guns, blood and killing. No graphic sex scenes that I recall, just adult level violence, so be aware of that. This is a book for mature readers who like superhero type stories and are intrigued by the vagueness that sometimes exists between good and evil.

Happy Reading!