I finished this book in 3 days, not because I’m a super fast reader, but because I literally could not put it down! This hasn’t happened to me in a long time… but there’s really nothing I disliked about this book.
The writing wasn’t the best I’ve ever read, but something about the structure of the book kept me addicted. The format used flashbacks throughout to develop characters and give background on what was happening in the present.
The basic plot involves two friends making a startling and disturbing discovery while doing research for a college paper. The effects of this new knowledge tears them apart and one of them spends years in jail planning his revenge.
Eli and Victor are the two best friends, turned enemies, after a literal matter of life and death destroys their friendship. While Eli has a god-complex, Victor is very logical and scientific, but both make decisions based on their emotions and hatred of each other. During his time in jail, Victor picks up a friend named Mitch, and these two come across an unfortunate young girl named Sydney. Meanwhile, Eli gets a sidekick of his own, who just happens to be Sydney’s older sister.
The essential themes throughout this book are good versus evil, or, depending on who you ask, evil versus evil. I found it to be very interesting how Schwab wove in these themes without making them seem obvious or forced in any way.
One question I asked myself continuously throughout the reading was how interesting it is that we can justify our actions as being morally “right” when the opposite side feels the exact same way about their position. It lead me to realize that there are two sides to every story, and sometimes there is not necessarily one right answer and one wrong answer (unless you’re Donald Trump, in which case, everything you do and say is the wrong answer).
“Plenty of humans were monstrous, and plenty of monsters knew how to play at being human.” – Schwab exposes the dichotomous nature of human beings.
There were a lot of parallels between this book and what’s happening in the real world. For example, how misguided ideologies can lead people to believe or justify their actions, even when they’re bad. It seems all too familiar with what’s happening in both the United States, and abroad.
Another parallel can be drawn between the influential power that Serena, Eli’s sidekick, holds over people and how society is being brainwashed by misinformation. Serena can literally compel people to do what she says. When this much power is held in the wrong hands, the consequences can be fatal.
Overall, this was a perfect book! I cannot wait for the sequel and look forward to reading A Darker Shade of Magic and Our Dark Duet. V.E. Schwab is my favourite contemporary author!