Age: Young Adult, Adult
Rating: 5 stars
Rating: 5 stars
Rosie Thinks: The blurb for this story was pretty ambitious - it promised me a tale of zeal, jealousy, morality and superpowers, a mix that was almost too good to be true! But V. E. Schwab managed to deliver a novel that was all of this and more.
My favourite quote from the story is this:
"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."
I feel like this perfectly sums up the grey areas and utterly intriguing characters of this book.
Eli and Victor become fast friends in college, both top of the class, ambitious, and with a dark streak under the surface. When both their thesises collide - the effect of near-death trauma and the creation of ExtraOrdinary humans - they decide to move from theory to experimentation, setting them down a path of betrayal and anger. The book alternates mainly between this time and ten years down the track, when Victor has escaped from prison with his cellmate and takes in a stray girl with an ExtraOrdinary power, and is intent on revenge. The structure of this book - the time jumps every chapter - could've so easily gone wrong, but the author pulled it off masterfully. It gave the story such a rigid structure and allowed Schwab to only reveal a little at a time, keeping me hooked. And I'm not just using that as a turn of phrase - I was honestly hooked in right from the start, and read it all in one sitting without even breaking for the bathroom!
Probably my most favourite aspect of this story was the way it delved into the grey area between good and bad, just as that quote earlier suggests. The quote at the beginning reads: "Life - the way it really is - is a battle not between Bad and Good, but between Bad and Worse" (Joseph Brodsky). Talk about that foreshadowing! Neither protganist is truly good, so the story is a facinating look into human behaviour, especially when influenced by power. The superpower aspect was also explored in an interesting way, though the characters are more the focus of the story than their powers are. But the creation of the superpowers, so rooted in science, was intriguing to read about and refreshing in its originality.
Honestly, I can't recommend this book enough. The writing is truly amazing as well, and the way the story was weaved around me left me breathless. I truly loved this story!