Blessed be, all! As the month of July comes to a close and the end of this year’s Camp NaNo sessions draw near, it’s exciting to look back on all of the progress I’ve made so far in both writing and reading. This year’s challenge for me was to branch out into more adult fiction instead of keeping my YA blinders on. I’m so happy that I did because I’ve been introduced to so many great authors already that I wouldn’t have picked up otherwise.
The one I want to talk about today is Vicious by VE Schwab. I think this was a great way for me to get a glimpse into the kind of writer she is; I’d heard her name associated with some YA novels before but had never picked them up. In a way, it’s appropriate that I started here since this was her first adult novel.
It’s hard to list exactly what I loved about this book without venturing into spoilers, but I’m going to try. Starting with the characters. Victor and Eli are such delightful sociopaths. I mean that in the literal sense. They’re both terrible people, as cruel and vindictive as the title would suggest. But they’re also among the most compelling characters that I’ve read lately. That is difficult to do, but I bought it completely.
All of the secondary characters are amazing, too. Victor’s little found family that you meet over the course of the book are delightful. Even the lesser antagonists that Victor and his crew happen across feel fully-realized. Everyone serves a purpose in the narrative and each comes across as a distinct person beyond their role in the text.
Obviously the plot is incredible, from the pacing to the non-linear telling. It’s multiple-viewpoint without ever being disorienting, and I can’t think of any scene or arc that didn’t tie together at the end. But the wildcard, the thing that rendered me unable to put the book down, was act two’s countdown mechanic. Where all of the chapters in act one are told out of order, jumping back and forth chronologically as the reader needed particular pieces of information, the same utilitarian date stamps take on a new purpose in act two. They become a ticking timebomb, hurtling the reader forward, and they give everything a delicious tinge of malice.