Review: Vicious by VE Schwab

9781783290215In light of VE Schawb recently announcing on twitter that Vicious is getting a sequel (!!), I decided I needed to review this book here. ASAP. Because it is glorious. It’s about super villains! It’s dark and scary and evil and full of anti-heroes with complex backstories and warped thinking to justify their evil intentions. Also there’s chocolate milk. This book has everything.

The story follows Victor and Eli, two college dudes who are proving a theory about superpowers. As a mostly YA reader, I was a bit worried I wouldn’t like this adult book. But, pfft, I shouldn’t have been. The writing is golden. It’s like a teeny tiny step away from YA, since it features college age-characters half the time. There’s also a 12-year-old girl who shares some of the narrating.

Can we talk about the villainousness?! I read so many books that claim to be about “villains”. BAH. They always couch evil in holy intentions. In Vicious, it explores EVERYTHING. Like what it means to be the bad guy. It explores the DARK side. Basically, Eli and Victor are two french fries short of a happy meal. They are twisted. They didn’t always start that way, though, and I love how the book is about them “before” they turned dark and “after”.

QUICK LIST OF THE CHARACTERS:

  • Victor: He’s the protagonist of the story. Ahhh! How do I even describe him? He’s very calm and confident and has a sharky smile and will risk everything and yet has a soft spot for lost people. He kind of picks up strays, which is entirely adorable. But at the same time, he’ll kill a guy point blank and not even blink. SO YEAH THERE’S THAT.
  • Eli: Okay, he is just a screw loose. Even before their experiments started going crazy, Victor always described him as having a monster under his skin that sometimes peeked out. Eli’s also a religious nut. (Why are the religious ones always crazy?!) So Eli wants to kill everyone with superpowers because he believes he’s ordained by God to do so. Victor probably wouldn’t have cared less, except that he and Eli are enemies and he’s gotta be on the opposite side of Eli…just because.
  • Mitch: I loved Mitch! He’s like this huge hulk of a guy that works with Victor…and he looks like he’d smash your brain in his fist, but he’s actually a computer genius. He also loves chocolate milk.
  • Sydney: She’s adorable! She’s the 12 year old and her character development is insanely fantastic.
  • Serena: She’s Sydney’s older sister. And while Sydney ends up with Victor, Serena ends up with Eli….and Serena is a bad nut. She controls people with her voice. Which is kind of a scary power…But when Eli wanted to kill Sydney and Serena went along with it? I HAD NO RESPECT FOR SERENA.

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Basically it’s like Charles Xavier and Magneto’s from X-Men’s origin story. But mix that in with The Prestige movie, where there are two guys doing mostly bad things and how-do-you-root-for-either…but then one guy has a soft spot for kids, and the other guy isn’t meaning to be so evil and — UGH — so many emotions! VE Schawb is a master of crafting words.

It’s told in the present and past. I didn’t find this confusing at all, in fact, I loved it! One minute we’d be in the college, watching Eli and Victor spiral into their evil intentions. The next, we’d be in the future, with Sydney and Victor trying to stop the mad Eli from killing all the ExtraOrdinaries.

I also found it really addictive. Time escaped me! When I finished I felt like dashing to the library and getting every Schawb book I can find because — WOW, JUST WOW. It’s incredible and perfect and totally my kind of story. It’s violent and vicious (duh) and I can’t wait for the promised sequel.

PURCHASE HERE

Review – The BAD GUYS Episode 1 by Aaron Blabey

the-bad-guys-episode-1Admittedly, I’m a picture book fanatic, but I’m also an Aaron Blabey fan so I wasn’t going to let a 137-page chapter book with colourless illustrations stop me from exploring it. In fact, it made no difference to my level of reading pleasure; ‘The BAD GUYS’ is highly interactive and witty and kind of like a long picture book anyway.  

Characteristic to his style, Aaron Blabey has written a story with his slightly sick sense of humour, subtle message, clever use of language and with a twist on the expected. In eight hilarious, yet intense chapters, we join this mob of dangerous, dubious characters on their quest to take over the world. No, seriously, Mr. Wolf, Mr. Shark, Mr. Snake and Mr. Piranha are not as menacing as you might think. Actually, they are simply MISUNDERSTOOD. Actually, they want to be HEROES.

carThrough informal language, Mr. Wolf introduces the reader to each member of his gang; the accused ‘villains’, trying to prove their innocence. Funnily enough, there’s the occassional hiccup. His efforts are constantly challenged by his starving pals wanting something more wholesome than a little cupcake. Plus, it doesn’t help his case having Suspect Rap Sheets typed by the Police Department showcasing their criminal activities on display for all us readers to view.
So, Mr. Wolf proceeds to indoctrinate the crew into his Good Guys Club. Still not convinced, the gang set off in their ‘fully sick’, flaming cool car to rescue a kitty in a tree…with some ‘cat-astrophic’ results (don’t worry, the cat was not harmed).
Next on their mission, Mr. Wolf plans a 200 puppy rescue from a maximum security dog pound. What happens next is like a twisted fairy tale meets a twisted ‘Jaws’ movie. As if the illustrations weren’t comical enough, this whole scene is absolutely hilarious! And as if there weren’t enough surprises, is it a coincidence that our not-so lovable little Pig the Pug is found imprisoned in one of the cells!

4C44DAE3CC68D0F21D9C2E3183C7FD64613ACASo, do they turn out to be the type of heroes they had hoped? How do the gang feel about being ‘good guys’? Stay tuned for their next jaw-dropping adventure in The Bad Guys: Episode 2!

With its obvious references to traditional fairy tales and well-known ‘notorious’ personas, the plot is mostly straightforward, the language uncomplicated, and the humour dry, but also leaves room for readers to make inferences on the consequences of their actions and predictions for future episodes. The black and white illustrations actually suit this shady crowd perfectly. Being such a lively story as it is, a literally dull tone brings the levels to a perfect balance. Needless to say, Aaron Blabey‘s animations are completely satirical with their comic-style sequences and regular in-your-face boldness of big-eyed expressions and large, bouncy font.

‘The Bad Guys’ is a laugh-out-loud, unputdownable read with totally convincing edgy and quirky characters, sure to be a hit amongst 6-9 year old early readers.

Scholastic Australia, 2015.

View the book trailer here.
Visit Aaron Blabey’s website.