Superpowers don’t make you a superhero
Victor Vale is your average college student, brilliant, arrogant, lonely, and just the tiniest bit sociopathic. When Eli moves in to be his new roommate, he recognizes something dark hidden behind that perfect exterior. The twos ambition is a match for each other, and they become unlikely friends. Then their senior thesis: Victor studies adrenaline, and Eli near death experiences. When they work together they discover something extraordinary, under the right circumstance these two things combined can develop extraordinary abilities in someone. Not one to merely keep things academic, Victor pushes to take this to the experimental, things go as horribly wrong as can be expected.
It’s ten year later, and Victor has just escaped prison, mind consumed by revenge, determined to “catch up” with his old friend, with the help of Mitchell, a massive tattooed convict whose size hides his extreme intelligence, and a young girl, whose quiet unassuming ways hide a remarkable ability. Meanwhile, Eli is on a mission of his own, to eradicate every other super-powered person he can find. Leaving death and destruction in his wake, his hands red with the blood of the extraordinary, except for his sidekick, an enigmatic woman, with a will no one can match. Both men wield terrible power on their side, driven by long ago memories of pain, betrayal, and loss, revenge is the only answer either can see, but who will survive the night? Vicious by V.E. Schwab is a delightfully dark, and entertaining read, that deals with broken people with extraordinary powers.
Who doesn’t love a good anti-hero? There is just something so fun about reading a book where the character isn’t really a good guy, let alone a decent human being. It is such a different look at good and bad, right and wrong, it is so fun to delve into the shades of gray that make up morality and the world. Don’t get me wrong, I love Captain America just as much as I love Deadpool, strong, unwavering morals are just as much of a turn on, but come on, you all know we love to love the villain. It’s why there are some many iconic villains and we cheer (or uh sigh dreamily) when they walk on screen. (Don’t worry Capt. you’re my real hero.) Vicious does not disappoint in this regard, Victor is a morally ambiguous man from the beginning, with a dark side, and yet you find him to be oddly lovable. You love to love Victor, and weave your way through his troubled past and present.
Victor was such a complex character, elegant and controlled, he kept his emotions bottled deep inside, he never said what he didn’t mean, (unless he was lying mercilessly to get what he wanted, the manipulatively little turd.) scratch that he lied…a lot. He felt an odd connection to others he considered outcasts and strays like himself, he brought them in and held onto them and relied on them despite believing he needed no one. His relationship with Sydney was really rather sweet, she hadn’t had many people in her life she could rely on, and watching Victor step up and take on the role, to become what’s safe to her, was so sweet. Even if he was a self-centered man bent on revenge. His interactions with Sydney showed so much character, and a side to Victor we would not have had a chance to see otherwise.
“I don’t want to see Serena.” said Sydney.
“I know,” said Victor. “But I want to see Eli.”
“Why?” she asked. “You can’t kill him.”
“That may be.” His fingers curled around the shovel. “But half the fun is trying” (44).
Mitchell and Sydney were such great supporting characters, Schwab didn’t let them fall into obscurity, or let them succumb to sidekick syndrome (not main character so they don’t have an interesting backstory or characteristics, other then offering emotional and/or physical support) Both had their own unique backstories that we got to be a part of, we got to grow with them and grow close to them, and become oh so invested. Schwab really tore very viciously at the heartstrings especially in regards to Mitchell, it wasn’t very nice, but I find I loved her for it.
Eli was an insane psychopath, who used twisted logic and his own egotism to validate murder. You really enjoyed rooting for Victor in this one. You wanted this madman to feel just as much pain as Victor wished to dish out. And you held your breath at every moment, waiting to see who would end the other first, who would win this game of cat and mouse, silently pleading that “Dear God, don’t let it be Eli, that crazy bastard.”
“When no one understands, that’s usually a good sign that you’re wrong.” -Victor to Eli
Schwab did an incredible job of intertwining the past with the present. It shouldn’t have worked, it should have been too complicated and too hectic, should have been confusing and impossible to follow, instead it was beautifully entertaining and impossibly compelling. Shwab did an amazing job of using this style to her full advantage, each scene was used to full potential. If the backstory ” ten years ago” ever began to get dry we were once again drawn back into the action by a cryptic and compelling scene from “Last Night” or “Two days ago”. Brilliantly done, and an uncommon way of telling that was fun and entertaining, the lack of chronological order just heightened the intensity and suspense of this book. The end had me in a fit, I was sitting there wide-eyed, turning each page as fast as I could gobble it up, I was literally gasping in surprise and shock as the end unfolded itself. Shwab stabbing me with cliffhangers, and surprises and delightfully unexpected outcomes.
“Plenty of humans were monstrous, and plenty of monsters knew how to play at being human.”
Parental rating: 15 and up. For mildly graphic violence scenes, but nothing else.
Rating: 4.5 of 5 stars
Vicious is an awesome tale of betrayal and revenge, loss and supernatural abilities, beautifully told and deliciously entertaining. Please leave your opinion and thoughts on Vicious in the comments below. Feel free to ask questions about the novel or offer a differing opinion. If you are interested purchase a copy, here. If you enjoyed this review read my others, here.