Fantasy, LGBT, sci-fi

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

Publish Date: September 24th, 2013
Number of Pages: 371 Pages
Publisher: Tor Books
Genre(s): Sci-Fi/Fantasy (Urban Fantasy)

Total Star Rating: 4 Stars

There are no good men in this game.

– V.E. Schwab, “Vicious”

I wish to someday sit down with Victoria (V.E.) Schwab and just talk to her and find out where the hell she gets all her ideas from… How does she think up the stories that pop into her head? Where does she draw her inspiration from? Is she actually in fact human, or is she some enchanted Poet Laureate that is gifted from the gods in creating amazing stories? I want her to publish a book on creative writing or on her process because her books are seriously just so breathtaking, so unique, so creative, and so inspiring!

I will admit I had no idea about this book’s existence until it’s sequel, Vengeful, arrived on bookshelves over the summer of 2018, and the gorgeous cover design immediately drew me in, and the blurb inside sounded like an amazing journey too! I go onto my bible, Goodreads, and saw that it was actually the sequel to another title, the very book this review is about.

Reading this was a refreshing and unique twist on the Superhero/Supervillain genre, and was so completely unpredictable and intensely dark toned that whenever I picked it up, I was dead set on whatever was occurring and easily blocked out everything going on around me. I can also say the two main characters and their dynamic is one of the most unique pairings I’ve read in any sort of story in recent memory.

The overall character work was one of the biggest highlights of this story for me, and not because they are super relatable or likeable…It’s actually quite the opposite. Victor Vale and Eli Evers, the two main characters, are actually pretty low on the totem pole when it comes to decent human beings, but for different reasons. Despite the darkness that they both have, what the author has expertly done with them is make us readers understand them; even though we don’t personally like them or relate to them in any sort of way, she was able to clearly show us the character’s moral integrity, their reasons behind what they do, what drove them, and how they justified even their more heinous acts.

It almost felt like a social commentary in way, similar to that of one of the messages that American Horror Story presents us with: that all monsters are human. We all have a dark side within us, and some are able to keep it dormant and suppress it from getting loose, but of course not everyone is like that. While on the topic of TV/Movie comparisons, I’d say this novel is also similar to M. Night Shyamalan’s Sci-Fi Thriller, Unbreakable, and Josh Trank’s Chronicle. Both films are about people who gain super abilities in some some odd sort of way, and have a darker/grittier vibe on superheroes and the supervillains that rise up and battle it out.

The story’s other themes are ambition, envy, betrayal and power, and two intelligent characters like Victor and Eli were doomed to be torn apart in their own selfish journeys to obtain their goals. They both have darkness in them and succumb to it’s siren call, but are also so good at hiding it from those around them. They both have sociopathic tendencies, and while some people may be turned off to it, I thought it made them more interesting to read about as the story progressed!

With Schwab’s addictive style of writing, an exciting plot, and a totally original set of characters; this book demands to be read!

What It’s About:

The Official Blurb:

Victor Vale and Eli Evers were college roommates and best friends; they were both brilliant, arrogant and both saw a fire within each other and wanted to play with it. They both secretly could see that there was something the other kept beneath the surface, something more sinister than what an ordinary person should have, and they both patiently waited for the other to bring it to the surface.

During their senior year, they work together on their senior thesis project and make a startling, miraculous discovery: some people can awaken special abilities when they suffer a near-death experience. They become obsessed with finding out more about this strange occurrence, but that’s when everything starts to go wrong…

10 Years later, Victor breaks out of prison in order to exact his revenge on his former friend, who’s now his greatest enemy. With him is his large, intimidating former cell-mate and a young girl with an unnerving ability of her own. Together, they all go out in search of Eli, who’s taken it upon himself to be a new kind of “Superhero” for the public eye, but his heroic stance may be less than genuine as he’s lead everyone to believe…

Vicious is a masterful, twisted tale of ambition, jealousy, betrayal, and superpowers, set in a near-future world.

What I Liked:

  1. Morally Grey Characters! No one is entirely evil, and no one is entirely good either. Victor is such a great example of the anti-hero, and his characterization is done so well. He is Ace (Asexual), and is actually supposed to be the hero of the story, even though his entire arc is out of jealousy and the thirst for revenge. Eli was another truly outstanding character to read; he’s the exact opposite of Victor in almost every way: he’s charming, he’s charismatic, and has a smile that could make anyone trust him. The problem with that is (and I know this comparison is cliché) but look at Ted Bundy… Wasn’t too hard on the eyes, but underneath that handsome exterior was a horrific monster with hardly any remorse. Lucifer himself was considered one of God’s most beautiful angels before becoming Satan.
  2. The Author’s Writing Style! The author certainly has a way with words; the only way I can describe Schwab’s style is simply addicting. There’s not a single excessive word, and it all flowed together so well, Schwab expertly knows how to reel in your attention and make you obsessed in guessing in what will happen next, because her work is so unpredictable; you truly are in the dark until the climax of it all.

Plenty of humans were monstrous, and plenty of monsters knew how to play at being human.”

– V.E. Schwab, “Vicious”

What I Didn’t Like:

  1. It Needed More Creepiness…While it’s excellent in terms of suspense and thrills, I had hoped for more creepiness to come out of this story? Like, I had hoped for more horror aspects of this story. The darkest part of this story is the exploration of both Eli and Victor’s inner darkness and the justification towards some of their more….questionable actions and decisions, but I don’t know…part of me just wanted to be unnerved a little more. I’m not asking for demon possession or floating girls in white nightdresses with terrible split ends coming out of TV’s, but let’s just say it wasn’t necessary to leave the hall light on every night I slept while reading this or afterwards, and for some reason that was an expectation of mine going in.
  2. The Timeline is Out of Order…The main story switches back from present day and 10 years in the past. We start the story with Victor as he had just broken out of prison and gains his new companions around him. We have no idea why him and Eli had such a big falling out or what exactly happened, all we know is there’s undeniable tension there. As you read on, it goes back to when they were back in college, and you slowly learn how it all came to play out and the horrible events that lead up to their eventual confrontation. To some, people can appreciate that parts of the story are revealed to us in such an interesting way, like Victor or someone will say something that obviously refers to something in the past, then the next scene goes back to that event to show you what they meant. For others, and even me to a point, it can slow down the pacing of this story and make it feel jarring and inconsistent.


Very distinguished, very distinctive and very disturbed characters…V. E. Schwab wrote a great novel with one of the more original storylines that I’ve read over the years. Her writing style is very smooth and exciting to read; her prose keeps you intrigued to find out what happens next in the story. I recommend it to anyone who were fans of either fans of the movies I listed earlier, or even the sequels to Unbreakable: Split and Glass. Hell, maybe even fans of X-Men would really get a kick out this title!

This book was especially interesting because not everything was in black and white; no character was completely good or completely evil. It was all about perspective and how light does not always equate to light such as darkness does not always equate to darkness. The two main characters were incredibly interesting to read and get to know; it was chilling to realize that I liked them despite the darkness they both perpetuate. It raised some societal commentary in which we all have a dark side and how we manage it, and answers a ‘what if’ about it manipulating us to do its bidding, which is interesting with one particular character doing “God’s” work in his name as their motivation.

Thanks For Reading!

— Nick Goodsell

Editorial Articles, Writing/Articles

What Annoys Me (Or Just Completely Pisses Me Off)

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The title is pretty self explanatory, but I thought I’d switch things up and write something that’s not what I normally put on here. It’s more about myself and not about books or reviews for once, and it was kind of fun/therapeutic/etc to make an extensive list about the annoyances I face everyday. It’s supposed to be funny, it’s supposed to be serious, it’s supposed to be relatable.

Please Note: This list will be ongoing, and I will add more as it come to mind, and is in no particular order.

  • Social Media posts where people have an image of them “Sleeping”…yeah, it’s totally not posed, its totally not pretentious and fake AF, and I only imagine you had someone wait for you to actually fall asleep (which is creepy, but not likely)
  • Warm Toilet Seats…I mean, someone else’s ass has been on that same seat maybe not even five minutes earlier, so the imagery that our bare asses are embracing each other, physically touching each other and that fills me with disgust, regret and unpleasantness.
  • People Who Request Sleeves on Iced Beverages…Does it stop the condensation? Maybe, but it also doesn’t stop me from thinking your pretentious.
  • Slow Traffic…Bitch, just fucking keep driving. Do you need to be pressing on the brakes when two cars could fit between you and the car ahead when you’re going only 10 mph?
  • Screaming Kids…Working at a Waterpark within an Amusement Park (Namedrop: Valleyfair Family Amusement Park) basically ruined me for kids, so they can all just STFU. This also brings me to my next point…
  • Parent’s Who Do Nothing About Their Screaming Kids…Be a parent, you chose to have kids, either get them to shut up in a public place or go away. Don’t just ignore them and keep having them throw a tantrum over something, nor should you ignore the much deserving glares me and others are throwing at you.
  • Free Food Complainers…Complaining for the sake of getting the meal for free, when an issue is so small or after eating most of it just so you can get free coupons looks so trashy, cheap, obnoxious, and yes…the whole staff is judging you because they are currently venting about you and your awfulness in the back to help them get through the rest of their night. Hope you enjoy looking like gutter trash while scarfing down that free food.
  • Entitlement…Spoiled brats who act like everyone owes them something just piss me off!
  • Racism…We are all human beings underneath; we bleed the same blood, our genes are all the same (to a degree), can we please focus less on our differences? (Yes, I am fully aware I am writing this as a white male in this world, I see my privilege).
  • Politics…What a freakin’ mess that’s turned out to be, especially in recent years. Just a bunch of greed, corruption, and cover-ups to hide what’s really going on, and divide us as a country because we can’t even be Facebook friends with people based off their political views.
  • Not Putting New Toilet Paper in the Holder…You leave it on the counter, you place it right above the holder, I don’t know…I’m just surprised that it must take so much effort for some people to just replace the tube with a new one. I”m pretty sure you can even do it while sitting on your porcelain throne.
  • People Who Don’t Flush…Again, minimal effort to the point that you can still be seated and still be able to do it, and not have the room smell terrible afterwards.
  • Other WWE Fans…seriously, some of the most irrational, fickle, selfish, disrespectful, entitled group of people (not all of them) who will find a way to complain about everything; its to the point that I swear, some of them just keep watching to bash it online. If you hate it so much or complain about it so much, stop watching it. Stop giving Vince money and find something else to watch.
  • When Technology Breaks Down For No Reason…Is nothing built to last, anymore?
  • Searching For Jobs…I can only take rejection so much in one week, and who likes not even hearing back from job recruiters? No One, so don’t ghost. I felt bad doing it once, and I won’t do it ever again.
  • Traffic Lights…I have the worst luck with stop lights, like they know whenever I’m coming and they immediately go yellow then red.
  • When People Talk about their BM’s…Why would anyone want to know anything about that? I bet not even Doctors care to hear about it unless you’re dying.
  • Internet Trolls…sad, pathetic, cowardly, bored, ugly people who really need to find a better passion in life other than tearing people who they wish to be down. Plus, try saying any of that in person and not behind the safety and anonymity of your keyboard in the small basement you live in.
  • Onlyfans…Most of the people on their have their “exclusive” content all over the internet anyways, it’s not like we haven’t already seen it, and for those that charge $24.99 a month to look at your junk?…good luck with that. Not trying to shame sex workers, but seriously, if people want to subscribe, it’ll cost a fortune to even sign up for a handful on profiles.
  • When Every Radio Channel Was on Commercial At the Same Time…Notice I said was; because fuck using the radio anymore. Plus, who likes listening to the same 8 songs on repeat anyways?
  • Being Taken for Granted or Brushed Aside…People tell me that I’m a teddy bear, and they’re right…the one that you abandoned and left on a shelf or in the back of the closet to collect dust and be forgotten about. Do that shit to me and your done. Out of my life. I’m worth more than that.
  • Farting…It smells bad, sounds bad…I get it, better in than out Shrek always says, but do it when no one else is around.
  • Excessive Burping…Similar to the last one, it’s just coming out the other end.
  • Rude Customers…the bane of any retail worker’s life. Check yourself: we are all people and not a human piece of tissue paper that you use to collect your old wad of gum to throw away, have some class, chill the fuck out, and realize that we as employees are never going out of our way to make your life harder on purpose, and sorry if you’re having a bad day for whatever reason, but don’t take it out on us. We are just a stranger trying to get through the day too. This one might even be a separate article, because honestly, people are the absolute worst in how they treat Retail Workers…The customer is NOT always right, screw whoever made that to be. Read between the lines everytime we smile through our teeth and wish you a happy day after you’re a complete dick to us.
  • Musical Episodes of TV Shows…I’ve watched the ones on Grey’s Anatomy, The Office, How I Met Your Mother, literally ALL of Glee, and I’ve come to the conclusion that they’re just random, totally cringeworthy, and I usually question if it’s actually them singing or not.
  • Older Generations Always Struggling on their Smartphones…Google it, look it up, and get with the times, please.
  • Crappy Photos on Social Media…This one sounds pretentious of me, but after taking courses on Photography, it’s just annoying to me now. Also, when I make an effort to take a good photo of someone for their timeline, but I only get half-assed results in return.
  • Fidget Spinners…What a useless fad.
  • How I Overthink Everything…Fuck anxiety.
  • How I Dwell On So Much From Years Ago…Like I said, fuck anxiety. It’s a real bitch.
  • How Bitter I am about High School and 90% of My Graduating Class…Yes I am salty about it, because so many people made me feel insignificant, unimportant, a background character shoved to the back on the stage, hell, behind the curtains. Don’t expect me to go to any reunions.
  • When People Don’t Knock Before Entering a Bathroom…How have people not been raised to not do this? Would you want someone to walk in on you while your sitting on the toilet? Can we just try and avoid this awkward situation at all costs?
  • When People Don’t Move the Mouse on the Projection Screen For A Video…It leaves the bar and menu up and ruins the experience. I partially blame my friend Elijah for this one, because once he pointed it out, I was no longer able to ignore it.
  • For Retail: When People Wait Outside the Front Door of the Store Before Open… The Store (at least the one I work at) is open for 12 hours out the day…Get a life.
  • Cheesy Work Orientation Videos…Are they purposefully made to torture us? They want us to want to work for them, right?
  • When Celebs are Younger Than Me…How Dare they be more successful than me but not have been on this planet as long as I have. IT’S NOT FAIR
  • Worrying About Money/Finances…I hate adulting.
  • Retail: When People swipe their card before I’m even done scanning all their items into the register…Umm, impatient much?!
  • Retail: People Talking on their Bluetooth while walking through the store…You seriously look like a prick, and not to stereotype, but it’s always men in business attire. I hope they’re not trying to impress us all…they definitely aren’t. They’re still better than screaming kids though…
  • Retail: When People Bug constantly about Discounts, Coupons, or Marking Something Down…At a Used Book Store…The merch is already so much cheaper, if you’re still worried about the cost of something, maybe you shouldn’t be out shopping or spending money then?
  • Retail: When Customers Feel the Need to Tell Us Their Life Stories…Honestly, I usually don’t care, and this now annoys me because I once had to suffer a retired man and their story of them trying to justify why they’re homophobic or transphobic because they were picked on as a kid and became traumatized at even being associated with gay people…and I just don’t want to hear it anymore…Find some friends to talk to about that shit with, but good luck with that in these times.
  • People Who Don’t Read or Watch Stuff Because It’s Popular…Excuse me while I attempt to imitate Gene Wilder in that meme of him and how he’s sarcastically congratulating you on your individuality, you’re smarter and better than everyone and not just a douchey hipster…Just because there’s a bandwagon following, doesn’t mean its not good or not worth checking out…Get over yourself.
  • Over-Powerful Social Media Influencers…So, a lot of you have been asking, and yes…they’re annoying, and once social media dies, what are they going to do with their lives?
  • People Who Always Cancel or Never Show Up…Make a fucking commitment, or at least be proactive and try to reschedule on a specific date and time.
  • People Who Chew With Their Mouths Open…Close that shit up.
  • Drunk People When I’m Sober…Being the one sober person amongst drunk people sucks…it’s funny for only about the first five minutes.
  • Unibrows…I mean, do people actually not care that there’s a fucking caterpillar growing above their face?
  • When People Take Forever to Answer Back to a Message…Us millennials have our phones on them all the time, so how does this even happen? Either I’m actually boring AF, our the other person is a dick who can still post on Social Media but leave me on “read…”
  • MN Drivers…Minnesota Nice is out the fucking window, along with my patience, when it comes to how terrible a lot of drivers are up here in Minnesota. I can’t even consider it road rage anymore, it’s just how I normally drive at this point.
  • Insurance Companies…We pay a huge amount every month when we don’t need it, then have it raised after we actually use it? For the thing that it’s there for? What a scam…To bad it’s required.
  • How I Get When I Feel Like I’m never Enough, Sought After, or Desired…It’s been my whole life, and what about me is so unlikeable? What do people see about me that immediately turns them off from me and writes me off as someone not worth their time or respect? It’s happened too many times that I can just ignore it and try to tell myself that my worth is not determined by others…We all want to be loved.
  • People Who Make Everything About Themselves…Can we talk about my issues for once, Karen?
  • How Millennials Are Terrible At Keeping In Touch…Myself included, but we have so many ways to communicate right at our fingertips, tons of apps, smartphones, Facetime, Skype, etc. but we still can’t keep in touch with people and we suck at communicating to each other.
  • Trigger Society…It seems a lot of people go out of there way to find something to be angry about and have it “canceled”. Just don’t watch it, read it, go to it, whatever, why do you have to ruin for the people that enjoy it? It feels like a giant witch hunt half the time. Also, if a celeb apologizes for something they tweeted 11 years ago—aka doing the very thing people ask to do—LET IT GO, and stop holding it against them. Also, people need to get all the facts straight before jumping to conclusions, demonizing someone and trashing them all over the internet.
  • How Expensive The World Is…How do they expect us to live? Plus, we’re sometimes paying 5x more what something is actually worth from it’s cost of production, but I get it…It’s just business and simple economics.
  • Networking At Social Events…I’m an introvert and I hate/suck at small talk, it’s usually so cringeworthy and about the weather and I always feel so stupid afterwards…
  • Retail: When People are Extra Pushy about coupons…especially when it’s only 5 or 10% off. You’re not actually saving all that much unless its at least 25% in my opinion.
  • “The Walking Dead”…I gave the show multiple shots to draw me in, and I just can’t get past the second season. I just can’t get myself to care enough to keep going!
  • Camping…I’m talking the roughing it in a tent with no toilet or running water. Sorry not sorry, I’m a city boy who needs modern technological advances in order to survive. Get at me!
  • Chili…I’ve just never gotten into this food choice, but I can say I’ve tried it and can defs knock it!
  • Sweet Potatoes…Please refer to “Chili” directly above…
  • Amazon…the worst part of capitalism in our society today…I worked at one of the warehouses and can say it’s a nightmare and people are massively underpaid for the richest man in the world…also, how is it okay to be so rich that you DON’T have to pay for taxes?! If anyone agrees with that set up, you’re a part of the problem! Also, hate how psycho people get about that Prime next day delivery.
  • Frosting…And this is coming from someone who has a massive sweet tooth…I’m talking about the typical frosting you find on store-bought cupcakes or regular cake that tastes anything but natural. It’s sickly sweet, and there’s always WAY too much of it.
  • Politics…worth mentioning again.
  • Large Crowds…I’m claustrophobic, and people tend to suck in general.
  • Reality TV Shows…I’m not about to support someone “finding love” on The Bachelor or anything close to Jersey Shore and will wait for their 15 minutes to end already.
  • More to come as time goes on!

Thanks for Reading!

— Nick Goodsell

YA Fantasy, YA Sci Fi

My Review: Scythe (Arc of the Scythe #1): by Neal Shusterman

Publish Date: November 22nd 2016
Number of Pages: 435 Pages
Publisher: Simon Shuster for Young Readers
Genre(s): YA Sci-Fi, Dystopian,

Total Star Rating: 4.5 Stars

What It’s About:

In the not too distant future, science has achieved the ultimate discovery; we have finally achieved immortality. With an advanced database named the Thunderhead, humanity has discovered every way in which to conquer disease, illness and even death. Humans have nanites in their bloodstream to keep cells from dying out, control pain and emotions, can allow humans to stay at whatever age they like, and even revives anyone from death, which even leads to suicide as a side hobby, strange as that sounds…Of course, this causes the planet to soon become overpopulated.

To combat this situation, a police-like force named the “Scythe” was created. Like grim reapers, these robed individuals have a code they follow to keep the world from being overpopulated, so they kill or “glean” their selected targets; the method that they choose who lives and dies is entirely up to them. They are the only people not monitored by the Thunderhead, and so are the only people that are legally allowed to kill others, and have them stay permanently dead.

Rowan and Citra, two teens, are chosen to become Scythe apprentices under the older and wise Scythe Faraday, and to eventually be tested to see if they have what it takes to survive and become master’s of death. At the end of their training, they will be tested amongst the Scythe elite, and the loser will be permanently gleaned by the victor.

What I Liked:

  1. The Originality! The concept was absolutely astounding; it really makes you think about mortality, death, and if humanity will ever actually be like this. It was perhaps one of the most original novels I have ever read; It’s hard to really compare this to any other story I’ve read or even watched on screen. But as I get into the next aspect that I enjoyed, I can add that while this book is incredibly enjoyable and entertaining, its not a light read, and had an incredibly dark tone, especially for a YA Sci-Fi/ Fantasy novel. It was completely unexpected, but oh did it make the book that much more amazing in my eyes!
  2. The Social Commentary! This story really makes you stop and think about deeper subjects that are involved with the overall themes of it. Death, of course, is a huge theme in the story, but it also raised the question of how people will use power when it’s in their grasp. Do people break under the pressure, do they keep a highroad sense of responsibility, or do they let the power go to their heads, lose their humanity and become psychopaths? It also explores the idea of technology and when it goes too far, and actually causes society to go backwards. Humanity has always been about innovation and progression; creating the most high tech equipment, finding cures for diseases, ending world hunger, solving environmental issues; but what if we solve these things and it doesn’t actually fix the issue? What if it just creates a new set of issues? This idea is even seen through mankind and it’s many fallbacks. Human Nature is an incredibly complex thing, and really comes through despite all these changes technology brings to our everyday lives. The author presents a hypothesis that humans, no matter what, will fall through the cracks and that there will always those who only find ways to bend the rules and find loopholes, and can good always triumph over evil? Humans are flawed, and technology can help us reach a higher standard of perfection, but should we even go there? Should we play God in a sense, and reach levels that maybe we shouldn’t have even been able to reach in the first place? Like I said, this book really makes you stop and think; it’s more of a mind fuck than you’d ever expect.
  3. The Major Character Development! Rowan and Citra didn’t seem like much at first, but as the story develops into their training, they change immensely and it was so great to read their inner turmoil when they are brought down completely different roads of becoming a Scythe. All the while, both constantly questions themselves and wonder not just whether they want to be there, but also if they deserve to be there. They have a great relationship too; they have easy banter and quickly become close. Their interactions are actually lighter moments of the book, adding humor and some light on the dark, somber tone that this story presents. The relationship is greatly tested when the Scythe society decides that only one of them will become a full fledged officer, and must kill the loser. It’s a dark cloud that hangs over them, despite their growing attraction for each other.
  4. The Slow Building Romance. There is romance, but similar to the book versions of The Hunger Games, but it doesn’t detract from the main story or overpower it in any major way, which I can also appreciate. It’s present, but it doesn’t make the characters not see what else is important going on in the story.

What I didn’t Like:

  1. The Length of the Book…There are some moments in the story that seemed too drawn out, and dragged on for way too long. It’s a 450 page book, and it is pretty slow moving for a big chunk of it, so it could have been condensed in some areas to possibly liven it up a bit more, at least for the slower parts.
  2. The Black/White Heroes and Villains Mindset…While the book is excellent in terms of social commentary and thoughtfulness behind the ideas it presents about progression and death, the heroes and villains don’t exactly have the same attention to detail. specifically, the villains are bad and there’s not too much more given as to why they are that way. They’re bad just to be bad, and I wished that there was more depth to their methods, and more exploration on how their minds worked. I just wanted a little more explanation than what we got.


Overall, what an enjoyable read, and achieves what any piece of art is supposed to accomplish; its causes you to stop and think. It draws you in, and changes you, whether that be in a small or major way. You feel like you may see things differently and either understand or question something more now after viewing whatever work of art did this. While maybe some character work with the villains is needed, it’s still such a thought provoking work of fiction, and one of my top choices to recommend to anyone!

Thanks for Reading!

— Nick Goodsell