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?
Genre: Fantasy; Science Fiction; Adult Ficion
Page count: 340 (Paperback), 366 (Kindle Edition)
Year of publication: 2013
You know a book is going to obsess the hell out of me when I fall in love with the main character from the first chapters and the main character happens to be a villain.
I was barely three chapters in, the time was 1 in the morning and I already decided that I am definitely going to love this. And big surprise, I did.
You know why? Lemme tell you.
Because there is something completely mesmerising about the way V.E. Schwab writes. If you are not completely hooked from the first pages then there must have happened something (wrong) with either you or V.E. (maybe something ExtraOrdinary, who knows!).
There is madness in this woman’s mind and I think I might go mad out of my own mind if I were to have a glimpse on what’s going on in V.E. Schwab Circus of Freaks – her brain edition.
(At this point I’m not even kidding, this woman is a beautiful mess).
The atmosphere is heavy, you can feel it from the beginning and it just persists through the whole book. It is macabre, and dark and evil and a bit psycho but that’s the whole point of it.
I love the way the world is built to look like our real world, but it is completely twisted and reinvented so that we live in something we think we know but we actually don’t because it is completely new and strange – a possible near-future, if you will. There is some sort of fake-security about this world.
The storyline tends to jump from one time to another – in present, two days earlier, one week earlier, ten years earlier etc. etc. The chapters and the time switches alternates and it feels like they are having a conversation that you must pay attention to in order to discover all the little puzzle pieces and put them together to form the whole picture.
It also breaks the writing style routine a bit, makes it funkier.
The fact that this is a book about an evil genius makes me happy. I am a little weirdo and I do take pleasure from such things, sue me if I’m not morally decent.
But, honestly now, bad guys are bad guy for a reason sometimes and their story might be more exciting than the story of the actual hero. I mean, bad is always better, right? *winks*
The funny thing about this book is that there are no good guys, basically.
“Some could call themselves a hero and still walk around killing dozens. Someone else could be labelled a villain for trying to stop them.”
It is all about perspective. Good and bad are always subjective aspects of one’s life and they always need a determinative factor to keep them going around in circles. Good is never good enough for some, or too good for others. Good can be twisted and turned into bad. Good could be worse than bad. Bad might not be as bad as it seems. Bad could be terrible.
At some point, those two notions could be interchangeable. It’s all about semantics, really. And that little fact just adds to the whole story some spice.
The way the characters are being shaped in this book is fabulous.
The characters themselves are some sort of stereotypes, but there is something about them that makes them feel different, unique. And that something might be the skilful character building.
I don’t know how my obsession with Victor Vale could get any deeper, but I honestly think it’ll find a way.
I love Victor Vale, my perfect beautiful villain.
Victor is a morally degraded, morally grey, morally detached evil genius, constructed with such a character depth that I honestly do not meet very often. Inside of him, there is a battle between the cruelty and coldness of a predator and the ache to do the right thing. Not good, but right.
He is complex and fascinating. On the inside, Victor has doubts, struggles, tries his best to meet the ultimate outcome of his plans. Everything that comes out of his erosive thoughts though seems calculated, perfect, mischievous, sexy. Yes, you read correctly. Sexy.
I find Victor Vale extremely hot when he is playing predator. It’s absolutely mesmerising and I am not going to apologise for it. That’s a twisted kind of magnetism that no one could resist.
On the other hand, Eli Ever repels me. He is supposed to be a hero. Well, I think he is not. And I sort of disliked him from the beginning.
He is a hypocrite and even though I find him bad, he is not good at being bad. He is just bad.
The problem is that Eli wasn’t made to be evil and becoming the way he is mow ruined him for good. Eli was made to be the all-American charming-smile guy, but when he pushes his luck further than he can control it, then the frustration is greater than anticipated. An inner struggle like Eli’s could break down one’s morals forever, turning them into actual monsters.
“Plenty of humans were monstrous, and plenty of monsters knew how to play at being human.”
With great power comes great responsibility and not everyone can handle either of those. The outcome could be destroying. And everyone is vicious when it comes to power.
Betrayal? Revenge? Hatred?
Yes. All of those come in the same package with viciousness. Power makes us hungry and degrades us. It dehumanises.
The proof? Two friends like Victor and Eli wanted to kill each other because of the incredible power they both possess. There’s no friendship when it comes to power. Only hunger.
On a more positive note, this book comes with a big friendly chocolate milk lover giant with beefy arms, shaved head and tattoos, a cute little girl with a morbid power and a giant black doggo named Dol (more like Doll, if you ask me). Also, in an abnormal way, I find Serena kind of a baddie.
To hell with it, this is so complex and good and bad and smart and everything you need in life.
New favourite book with new favourite characters for my lists? You bet your cute bums. V.E. Schwab did it again.