Reviews

Review ~ Vengeful by V.E. Schwab

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Review: Vengeful ~ by V.E. Schwab

478 pages ~ Adult Fantasy

2018~ TOR

My Rating: 4/5 ✰✰✰✰

Goodreads Description:

Sydney once had Serena—beloved sister, betrayed enemy, powerful ally. But now she is alone, except for her thrice-dead dog, Dol, and then there’s Victor, who thinks Sydney doesn’t know about his most recent act of vengeance.

Victor himself is under the radar these days—being buried and re-animated can strike concern even if one has superhuman powers. But despite his own worries, his anger remains. And Eli Ever still has yet to pay for the evil he has done.

Link to my Vicious- Book 1 Review

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My Thoughts:

Even though I loved Vicious, I actually enjoyed the plot of Vengeful much more. With Vicious I found myself disinterest at times, but Vengeful grabbed me right from the beginning and never let go. The build-up/plot was much more complex and intricate than the first. Schwab is such a skilled writer and there were so many unique themes running through this book. Below were some of the high points for me:

  • My enthusiasm for this book is in large part due to Marcella. She was such a great addition to this story because she added the drama and romance that was lacking in the first book. Her relationship with her husband and their backstory made her revenge and descent into villainy even more poignant. I felt like I really knew her and the motives behind her actions, which is something that was often lacking for Victor and Eli. I loved that Marcella’s character was beautiful and powerful. Schwab did such a great job playing with this femme fatale vibe.

“People looked at Marcella and assumed a whole lot. That a pretty face meant an Empty head, that a girl like her was only after an easy life, that she would be Satisfied with luxury, instead of power- as if you couldn’t have both.”

  • The banter between June and Marcella was also a really great addition. Two powerful females, the hit woman and the mod wife, trying to feel each other and anticipate each other’s moves was really fun to watch.
  • I really loved June as well- she had a very Arya Stark vibe with her “kill list.” She protected Sydney but also tried to empower her by teaching her the value of a family that is chosen rather than the one we are born into. I would have really liked more backstory on June, but maybe Schwab has plans for that.
  • The connection with the mod also gave the book a very cool film noir vibe that I absolutely loved. I can completely see this being made into a film noir style detective mystery complete with black and white stylized cinematography.
  • Eli’s backstory was fascinating. It was so interesting to finally see the motivation behind his actions. His backstory then brought up so many questions about motive. Victor and Eli commit the same crimes but for different reasons- Is Victor less evil because he kills EOs in order to protect Syd, their makeshift family, and find a cure for himself? Do we still consider Eli purely evil once we understand the full extent of his motive? These were all really interesting questions that the book brought up and I actually really liked that it never attempted to answer them. “There are no good men in this game.”- because no one is wholly good or bad.
  • Haverty- AKA: Frankenstein – His desire to tap into what the EOs have was a really cool reflection on Victor and Eli creating their own monsters (themselves). I would have liked more with the doctor at the end of the novel. His role was really shaping up to be something pivotal at the end, but it was over pretty quickly.

What was missing?

  • Ok, my only complaint is really the same complaint that I had with book one. Victor and Eli are supposed to be these legendary friends turned enemies. The inside cover of the book even compares them to “Magneto and Professor X” and “Superman and Lex Luthor.” But because we never get very much of the backstory on the formation of their friendship, I just consistently found it hard to understand their intense hatred for each other and their desire to destroy each other. There is a small flashback to the day they met, but that is it. It was not enough to understand the connection and/or love that they once had for each other. It might seem a little nitpicky, but I just wanted to be more invested in their relationship than I was. Ultimately, it was the side characters that I really ended up investing.

Without giving anything away, the ending does seem to leave you guessing. This could mean a potential continuation of the EO would, I’m not sure, but I would definitely be there for that.

For more information on V.E. Schwab and her books, check her out on Goodreads

Follow me on Instagram @somewhereinpages & Goodreads @erinrossi

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Reviews

Review: Vicious (Villains #1) ~ by V.E. Schwab

Review: Vicious ~ by V.E. Schwab

364 pages ~ Adult Fantasy

2013~ TOR

My Rating: 4/5 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Goodreads Description:

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?

My Thoughts:

This story was such a unique and interesting twist on what someone would be willing to do to gain power. It reminded me a lot of the film, Flatliners. This film was both horrific to watch, but also strangely insightful for many different reasons. You are watching these kids destroy themselves for the sake of “science” and for the sake of gaining power, and it is kind of traumatizing but fascinating at the same time. But it also brings up so many interesting questions about what role religion and science play in convincing us of what is right and wrong, and how far humans should go in their desire to control life and death.

Below were some high points for me:

  • The blurred line between villain and hero- How do we define a hero or a villain?- it’s really such a messy and complicated question that a lot of books try to grapple with, but Schwab has managed to do it in such a unique way. It’s all about outside perception in this book- how the world perceives Eli and Victor- they are seen as both throughout the book- Victor claims: “these words people threw around – humans, monsters, heroes, villains – to Victor it was all just a matter of semantics. Someone could call themselves a hero and still walk around killing dozens. Someone else could be labeled a villain for trying to stop them. Plenty of humans were monstrous, and plenty of monsters knew how to play at being human.”
  • “The paper called Eli a hero. The word made Victor laugh. Not just because it was absurd, but because it posed a question. If Eli was really a hero, and Victor meant to stop him, did that make him a villain? He took a long sip of his drink, tipped his head back against the couch, and decided he could live with that.”
  • Victor’s blackout poetry- “a sight, a civilian hero, nameless, a bad feeling, fearless unarmed, and in the mayhem uninjured. It was a remarkable display.” Victor’s desire to turn his parent’s self-help books into something creative and self-expressive was a really clever element. It felt like a comment on the power that creativity and fiction can have over psychology/self-help.
  • The question of what Religion/Faith can convince us to do- Eli used religion to convince himself that what he was doing was right and part of some divine plan- “the unnatural made natural,” but he is a walking contradiction due to his own status as an EO. I felt like this was Schwab’s clever way of commenting on the dangers of religion and what crimes it can convince us to commit.
  • The “gifts” that can be attributed to God vs. Science- After his “experiment,” Eli attributes his new “gifts” to God’s divine intervention:

Eli: “Why of all the potential powers I ended up with his one. Maybe it’s not random. Maybe there’s some correlation between a person’s character and their resulting ability?

Victor: “According to your thesis, an influx of adrenaline and a desire to survive gave you that talent. Not God. This isn’t divinity, Eli. It’s science and chance.”

  • I thought it was a really fascination twist that a medical student, trained in the power of Science, could attribute the results of a Science experience, to the divine. That he saw himself not as a monster, but an “avenging angel.” Major props to Schwab on this one- this was a fascinating twist.

What was missing?

  • I felt like there wasn’t enough background on Victor and Eli’s relationship. When the eventual rift between the two comes, the intensity of it didn’t feel fully believable to me because I didn’t feel like I knew or understood their previous relationship. The connection between the two wasn’t built up enough to warrant such an intense hatred.
  • Victor and Eli- because I didn’t have much background on them, I didn’t find a lot of connection with them. I think I just wanted to know and understand them more. Because I didn’t, I wasn’t fully invested in who came out on top. I was more concerned about the people who they managed to drag into their feud- mainly Mitch, Sydney, and Dol.

Overall, it was an interesting read with a crazy cool twist on Superheroes vs. Villains. Schwab is a great writer and she managed to seamlessly blend in some really complex questions while also just being purely entertaining and fun! I will definitely be reading Vengeful soon!

For more information on V.E. Schwab and her books, check her out on Goodreads

Follow me on Instagram @somewhereinpages & Goodreads @erinrossi

Reviews

Review: A Darker Shade of Magic ~ V. E. Schwab

Review: A Darker Shade of Magic ~ By V.E. Schwab

400 pages ~ Genre: Adult Fantasy

2015 ~ Tor Books

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Description: Kell is one of the last Antari- magicians with a rare, coveted ability to travel between parallel Londons; Red, Gray, White, and, once upon a time, Black. Kell was raised in Arnes- Red London- and officially serves the Maresh Empire as an ambassador, traveling between the frequent bloody regime changes in White London and the court of George III in the dullest of Londons, the one without any magic left to see. Unofficially, Kell is a smuggler, servicing people willing to pay for even the smallest glimpses of a world they’ll never see. It’s a defiant hobby with dangerous consequences, which Kell is now seeing firsthand. After an exchange goes awry, Kell escapes to Gray London and runs into Delilah Bard, a cut-purse with lofty aspirations. She first robs him, then saves him from a deadly enemy, and finally forces Kell to sprit her to another world for a proper adventure. Now perilous magic is afoot, and treachery lurks at every turn. To save all of the worlds, they’ll first need to stay alive.

“I’d rather die on an adventure than live standing still.” Lila

My Thoughts: This was another book that I went into with high expectations, and although it didn’t wow me in the same way that Six of Crows and Crooked Kingdom did, I absolutely loved Schwab’s writing style and I fell in love with this world.

Here were some highlights for me:

  • The description of each London is so distinct and vivid that you really get a feel for each city’s unique atmosphere. I found the idea of the four-layered Londons and the history of these worlds to be the most fascinating thing about the book.

“The world sits in balance,” said Kell, “humanity in one hand, magic in the other. The two exist in every living thing, and in a perfect world, they maintain a kind of harmony, neither exceeding the other. But most worlds are not perfect.”

  • I liked Kell as a character, but I really didn’t care about his fate until it became connected to Lila’s. She reminded me of a female Oliver Twist- pickpocket pirate queen. She is scrappy, resourceful, defiant, witty, and hilarious.

“I apologize for anything I might have done. I was not myself.” 

“I apologize for shooting you in the leg,” said Lila. “I was myself entirely.”

  • Kell’s Blood Magic: I thought that the magic of this world was really original and different from any type of magic I have read before. I loved that the magic wasn’t just a tool for humankind to wield, but that it was a living, breathing entity that demands respect.

“Blood was magic made manifest. There it thrived. And there it poisoned. Kell had seen what happened when power warred with the body, watched it darken in the veins of corrupted men, turning their blood from crimson to black. If red was the color of magic in balance—of harmony between power and humanity—then black was the color of magic without balance, without order, without restraint.”

  • I won’t spoil the ending for any potential readers, but the ending was just so clever. Everything was chaos and turmoil but still managed to seamlessly come together. I also really appreciated that there were no cliffhangers. It ended with a lot of unanswered questions, but there was still a full conclusion to the novel.

Some Issues:

Slow Start: It took me awhile to become engrossed in the story. I’m not sure if this was because I had so much “life” stuff going on when I started it, or if it was just the story itself. But I really wasn’t invested in the story until around page 200. I wanted more of Kell’s backstory, more information on the Antari, and more of Kell’s connection to the Royal Family. Even if some of his past was left a mystery, I feel like I would have been more invested in the story, and Kell himself, if I knew more about his present.

Although Kell and Lila are never an official “couple,” the idea of their romantic connection is hinted at several times. I couldn’t really get behind the idea of them together and I found their few romantic moments awkward. There was no romantic build up or spark between the two. Even the quick kisses that Lila gives Kell before each travel felt more platonic to me. Maybe this will be developed more in the next two books. I am really looking forward to reading the rest of the series and really hope to get some of Kell‘s history.

I would recommend this to all fantasy fans. The development of the four Londons and the magic of Kell’s world were wonderful. It’s not a fast-paced read, but what it lacks in speed, it makes up for in vivid detail and world building.

For more information on V.E. Schwab and her books, check her out on Goodreads

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