I read my first Schwab book and it was marvellous!
Publication date: September 24th 2013
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 arch-nemeses have set a course for revenge—but who will be left alive at the end?
LETS TALK CHARACTERRRRRR!!!! (Sorry, I’m excited)
I absolutely loved the similarities and differences between Victor and Eli. The science/religion debate is represented so well as the flaws in each are expounded thoroughly. At times it is easy to understand the argument for both Eli and Victor’s standpoints – I half expected to switch sides half way through but it wasn’t to be for me. The continued development of flaws in each of them was wonderful and I think lovers of complex characters will find this a satisfying read – particularly in that respect. Each of them is so intense and tunnel visioned it’s a bit of a whirlwind. It’s all anti-heroes and dirty fighting – definitely worth reading. Super anti-heroes are so much better than regular super heroes.
I also adored Mitch and Sydney, the wonderful chocolate milk loving, tension breaking pair. Sydney is just lovely and Mitch is a total sweetheart (he reminded me of Thomas for Rachel Caine’s Ink and Bone series – anyone else?) and Doll is an obvious love for me because, well, dogs. Mitch and Serena contrasted so well as second in command characters, despite their similarities. I didn’t really understand Serena’s motives entirely but her power was all-consuming.
STRUCTURE WISE it worked really well, at no point was I lost in the timeline whilst reading. Reading the events of the past in full detail as though they were happening alongside the central plot was fabulous – much more effective than flashbacks or woven back story. The writing was eloquent and loaded, Schwab’s style is just perfect, especially for the subject matter. I got graphic novel vibes whilst reading, it’d be exciting to one day see it in that format.
And, honestly, I just loved the story. It’s overwrought with coincidences but the similarities between Eli and Victor make this totally plausible: they think in similar ways despite being polar opposites in other regards. Now the team is properly assembled, I can’t wait to find out what happens next. The only, really nit-picky thing I might say is that a little more tension wouldn’t have gone amis: I feel like Sydney’s power detracted from some of the fear I might otherwise have had about losing characters.
All in all this was a SERIOUSLY enjoyable read. The tension in the final moments wasn’t *quite* as much as I would’ve hoped for HOWEVER I was thoroughly hooked throughout and the sequel promises to excite and enthral at least as much as this one. I would recommend it again and again and again.
4.5 out of 5