Short Fiction Review: Warm Up by V.E. Schwab

Warm UpTitle: Warm Up (Vicious #0.5)

Author: V.E. Schwab

Publisher: Tor Books on August 20, 2013

Source: Tor.com

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It’s been 297 days since David died–and came back.

He may have survived the avalanche, but the aftermath has been far worse. His wife moved out, taking his son with her, and a devastated David hasn’t left his house since, terrified of the mysterious new power that followed him home from the ill-fated expedition.

After months in seclusion, David’s ready for a fresh start, and ventures out, determined to keep his power in check. But David’s power isn’t the one he needs to worry about.

Warm Up by V.E. Schwab is a prequel short story to her novel Vicious, which I recently hauled. I’ve been wanting to check out more short fiction from Tor, saw this on their website, and here we are. And seriously, colour me impressed because Schwab can pack a serious punch in only 15 pages.

David has spent almost 300 days in self-imposed seclusion, locked inside his home. But it’s not really his home anymore, is it? Without his beloved wife Samantha and their son Jack, it’s just a sad little reminder of the life that he’s lost.

On his thirtieth mountain climbing expedition David and his friends are caught in an avalanche. Buried alive in the freezing snow, all David can think is “warm up!” If only he’d known how much he would come to regret that desperate plea. For when he comes back from the brink of death, David is no longer completely human. And warming things up is no longer a problem.

For almost 300 days, everything – and everyone – that David touches is horribly burned. No fire, no smoke, no explanation. Just ashes. For almost 300 days, David has mourned the collapse of his marriage and the loss of his son. For almost 300 days, he has worked tirelessly to control the terrible power within him. And now, after almost 300 days, David is finally ready to rejoin the living.

I’m glad that I read Warm Up before diving into Vicious, since it’s given me a pretty good idea of what the tone of the series will be: grim. As most of you probably already know, I enjoy the occasional bleak book now and then, but they’ve never been my favourite. I can honestly say that I don’t think it’ll be an issue here, since Schwab’s gorgeous prose sucked me in immediately. In only 15 pages Schwab made me care about David’s suffering. She also made me insatiably curious about the dangerous young man that David encounters in an alley way on his first night outside in almost 300 days…

I can’t wait to learn more about him in Vicious. V.E. Schwab knocked it out of the park with this one, penning a darkly original prequel short that tantalizes and intrigues. Give me more!

 

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  • Lisa (@TenaciousReader)

    Ohh …. good to know about this. I’ve wanted to read Schwab, but just haven’t found the time to read one of her books. This sounds like a great place to start 🙂

    • I think you’ll definitely get a feel for her writing style through this. Warm Up is my first Schwab too, and I must say I’m very excited to read more!

  • I really enjoyed Vicious…though this is the first time I’ve heard about this. Not surprising though, since I’m pretty clueless and indifferent when it comes to short fiction and novellas even when they are companion stories to books/series I like. But I might give this one a look, seeing as I loved what she’s done with Vicious 🙂

    ~Mogsy

    • Maybe it’s the whole English major thing, but I LOVE short fiction. When a series has shorts or novellas between full-length installments it’s such a bonus for me! Can’t wait to read Vicious soon.

  • Ooo wasn’t this a free story on tor.com? If so I need to go look it up and read it stat!

    • Yes it was! Good call. They’ve got a ton of great free shorts over there…including three 2014 Hugo winners!

  • That’s a very good point about setting the tone. I definitely found this to be grim, and I’m working my way through Vicious, when I can find the time. I really like it, and I think it’s very clever/insightful, but it’s one of those books that I have to read incrementally, b/c yes, BLEAK.

    • Yeah, I can definitely see how Vicious could seem bleak. The ending of Warm Up was pretty dang brutal. But still, I’m excited about Vicious! I’ll just be sure to read some really fun UF afterwards 😉

  • Wow, it sounds like the author did a great job in 15 pages. I wouldn’t normally read a 15 page story, because I wouldn’t think there was much there. A good way to get an idea about the tone of the book.

    • She really did! I was very impressed. Especially since Warm Up was my first Victoria Schwab, so I wasn’t sure what to expect re: her writing abilities.