VIcious - V.E. Schwab

Project Wannabe Superheroes gone bad and two main characters playing cat and mouse. 

Vicious has a strong start; throwing the reader right away in the middle of the action of people digging up a body. After that the author sure knows how to hold the reader's attention. The suspense was building up to end up in the final face off between the two main characters. Is it original? Friend turned foe and the subsequent chase? No. (The only difference is that the author blurred the dichotomy between good/bad.) But was it entertaining? Yes. Pleasant writing style? Sure.

I got intrigued with the moral ambiguity of the characters and the overall greyness depicted in Vicious. Vicious has none of that humorous banter, endearing (anti-)hero or sweet romance. However this means there's nothing to lighten up the overall dark mood nor are there characters to root for. Vicious read as a noir fiction with a paranormal spin.

I had to knock down a star for the lack of world building and complexity of the characters. I felt the author could have gone way out of the comfort zone. Certainly Eli fell into stereotype as the typical bad guy. He being a religious fanatic and admirer of former Prussian and Russian rulers. Also Victor and co. At the end of the story I knew little of them. This is due to the lack of warmth between the characters and endearing traits. In that regard Mitch and Sidney were the most successful but that is not enough. I do feel that Victor and Eli's sidekicks deserved more attention and a clearer explanation why they stick together. 

More than half of the book is written in flashbacks. This kept me on the edge of my seat at first as the story unfolded but after the umpteenth flashback in de second half it got tiresome. At this point the story should move on and not get hindered by the same flashbacks from the first half of the book except told in another main character's perspective. Though it was interesting to get into the other character's head. And it has a certain charm to write a story this way but it's a hit or miss depending on the reader. At some point my sole interest was on the events happening in the present. 

All of the above contributed to the "empty" feeling I had upon finishing the book. Vicious could have been so much more and less predictable if only the author would have written without restraint. But it is one of the better books I read this year.