“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.”
I loved this book, it was a wonderful read and I found it really easy to get through. It was a nice book to read after being disappointed by The Darkest Minds. I don’t know what exactly it was but this book was an all rounder for me, and had everything I wanted within this book.
The characters were well written and challenged every idea of good and bad that I had originally had laid out in my mind. My opinion of Victor and Eli was constantly changing and that really impressed me. If that wasn’t enough the secondary characters added a flair and dynamic as well. I really enjoyed learning about each and everyone of them.
One thing that made this book brilliant in my eyes was the split timeline, the way that the story was separated, almost creating a suspense all of its own. There was a mystery air about it and made the story move at a nice pace, I really enjoyed that aspect of it. It made me question the motives of the characters and what they were thinking in so much more detail.
Onto the next part of the review, please bear in mind that this part will contain spoilers.
I completely adored the beginning of this book and the way that the story starts, it is intriguing from the off-set drawing you into the drama immediately. It was wonderfully done and it was really the start of a really good book.
“He’d just broken out of jail. She’d just been shot. A crossing of fates, or so it seemed.”
I loved the way that Sydney and Victor met, and looking forward in the book it really did seem as though it was meant to be. It was a brilliant line foreshadowing the events that happen later on. There was such good imagery throughout this book, and the soil hitting the coffin, was just the start. I thought that the scene within the graveyard was well described and it set the right dark tone with the right amount of intrigue.
Seeing Victor and Eli in their college environment was an interesting and needed insight.
“An idea. A way to twist Eli’s discovery into his, or at least, into theirs.”
I thought that the way they interacted around each other gave a nice insight into why they were always going to be enemies, right from the beginning they were competing to be the best in everything. There is definitely a sense of this when the experiment goes wrong and Victor wakes up and immediately blames Eli, and you find yourself questioning whether he did in fact stop it too early on purpose. There is no certainties when you look at their friendship, there doesn’t seem to be any sense of loyalty.
The insight of Victor and the way that he handles the rage and his power was well-written and believable, it was definitely a scene that stuck with me throughout the book. I thought that his outlook on trying to kill Eli was what was keeping him grounded and stopping him from ‘blowing up’ and destroying everything.
“And now, just as then, when he closed his eyes and searched for silence, a word rose up to meet him, a reminder of why he couldn’t afford to break, a challenge, a name. Eli.”
It definitely painted him as being the evil one and that was one of the things I found was done really well throughout, the uncertainty of which one is in the wrong, and which one you hate the least. Especially as the information we have to go on is that Eli is a hero saving people in a bank robbery and Victor has come out of prison.
Eli’s attempt and ultimate success was such an insight into the characters and the way that they interacted with each other. The determination that overtakes Victor and the way that he goes about his second time, the killing of Angie, and the fact that he doesn’t care, I think is one of the biggest indicators of them both.
“I don’t know who you are, but you’re not Victor. You’re something that’s crawled into his skin. A devil wearing him.”
Although Eli is marginally more distraught about Angie dying, there really isn’t that much emotion from his side either. Which is where we get our first look into the real thoughts of Eli, the thoughts of being taken over by evil and a deal with the devil. It was an interesting turn of events, because although he seems to be painted as a hero, this, yet again makes you question what type of people the book is dealing with.
Getting back to ‘present day’ and the characters of Mitch and Sydney, they were some of my favourites, and learning about their different life paths was a refreshing change. Sydney’s death and subsequent coming back to
“As she tumbled through the trees, she thought she heard her sister calling her name, but this time she knew better than to look better”
life was one of my favourite parts, because not only did we learn a little more about her, but also about her sister. It was a nice dynamic and it helped explain the betrayal, linking her to Eli, thanks to his attempt to murder her, explaining why she was so intent on following Victor.
Watching Eli’s perfect demeanour and life begin to crack and falter as he realises how Barry Lynch is alive, is something that part of me really enjoyed. His character annoyed me with his self-righteous crap so to see him brought down a few pegs and actually be worried about something was a relief, it reminded me as a reader that although he could heal himself there was still something human about him.
I think as we move more into Eli’s story it becomes more and more obvious that he isn’t the hero that everyone thinks he is. I think that the murder of both Dr Lyne and the janitor proves how deranged and how far he will go in order to keep himself as the God he thinks he is.
Then he made his way back up the stairs, pausing a moment to consider the body, bent, neck broken in a way that looked believable considering the fall.”
It definitely changes the perspective we have on him, as they are a blip in his ‘perfect system’, they aren’t EOs, they are innocents, that were just collateral damage. I think that is where the real challenge to Eli’s character and the hypocrisy comes into it, making Victor the marginally better person.
I think that was is the most powerful thing about Eli is the way that he came to the epiphany that he was different from the others and in fact sent to make sure that no one else had the powers that he had.
Until he’d given his life to God a hundred times, and a hundred times had it given back. Until the fear and the doubt had all been bled out of him.
I think the imagery and the importance that he puts on making sure that God is really on his side and that he really has the right calling in life. The fact that he is ready to die to make a point and make himself feel like the hero was something that not only hit me in an emotional way but also in a way that it made it hit home just how far he was willing to go for his cause.
The relationship between Victor and Sydney was quite a surprise especially seeing as he’s definitely made out to be a one track personality, only out to kill Eli and that being all.
“Because you don’t think I’m a bad person,” he said. “And I don’t want to prove you wrong.”
Even Mitch is surprised when he is asked to check on her in the hotel, it added a nice dynamic to the whole situation and it was almost a redeeming feature, something that reminded you there must have been something else to his life before all of this, and maybe something to go back to.
Something that made me sad and frustrated was Serena, and her relationship with Eli.
“Serena Clarke spent half her time wishing she were dead, and the other half telling everyone around her what to do, and wishing someone wouldn’t do it”
At the beginning it could be called self-preservation, and an attempt to keep herself alive, however as time goes on it seemed to me that there was something more going on. She was desperate to be useful and desperate for Eli to see her worth, which although she was in no way innocent, it was sad to watch this girl twist herself into something in order to save herself. The way that he is waiting for her to forget to tell him not to kill her and for his chance to get away from her made me feel so uncomfortable and sad.
I really enjoyed Mitch’s perspective in jail and his outlook on Victor, I think that out of everyone in this book, he is the one who has the most realistic view of both Victor and the situation.
“Victor Vale was a wolf among sheep. And it took a lot to make 463 hardened criminals look the part of prey.”
The idea that he is willing to follow Victor and protect Sydney even with knowing what the end game is. I think that out of all the characters his outlook and understanding made him one of my favourites, and I really enjoyed the honesty.
The end scene was beautifully orchestrated that your heart was in your mouth for the entire time. Especially because Mitch and Sydney are such lovable characters that have been swept up into the feud. I will however say that although I knew how it was going to end, I was surprised by the run up to it. The killing of Serena took me by surprise even though deep down I knew it was inevitable, the redemption of her character only coming moments ago when she allowed Sydney to run. I was figuratively at the edge of my seat for the whole of it, it was an intense experience watching the whole thing pan out. It was also a bittersweet experience watching Eli get his comeuppance but Victor to be allowed to walk free.
We are finally at the end of this review, I want to apologise for how unorganised my feelings are within this review, but I found it really hard to organise it within the differing time frames, and still have it make it sense. So if it’s a little confusing, and you want to know more, please comment and I’ll do my best to explain.