Publisher: Titan Books
A masterful tale of ambition, jealousy, desire, and superpowers. 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. Ten years later, Victor breaks out of prison, determined to catch up to his old friend (now foe), aided by a young girl whose reserved nature obscures a stunning ability. Meanwhile, Eli is on a mission to eradicate every other super-powered person that he can find?aside from his sidekick, an enigmatic woman with an unbreakable will. Armed with terrible power on both sides, driven by the memory of betrayal and loss, the archnemeses have set a course for revenge?but who will be left alive at the end? In Vicious, V. E. Schwab brings to life a gritty comic-book-style world in vivid prose: a world where gaining superpowers doesn’t automatically lead to heroism, and a time when allegiances are called into question.
I feel like doing things a little differently for this review – partially get to back into the swing of writing reviews, partially because I can and I was a little conflicted about how I felt about this book – although I did like it.
1. Victor – the antagonistic protagonist? the anti-hero?
I wasn’t quite sure how I felt about Victor, the definite protagonist and possible hero with a screwed up moral compass. He never pretends to be a good person, but he does his best to do what he thinks is right, whether other people think it’s right or now. He can be quite loyal to his friends, but if you cross him – aka, Eli – then you had better watch out, because it will be bad. He was a pretty complex character as a result, but I never found myself caring about him as much as his friends, another ex-con and Sydney, who will show up later on this list. I’ve seen people who love him, and I can definitely see how he’s a very interesting character, but I just didn’t connect with him as much as I wanted to; if I had to rate the four characters on this list, I think he might come in third place.
2. Eli – the moralistic dude masquerading as a hero
He was my least favorite favorite, but I think that was the point – he was a self-indulgent guy who thought he was a hero and was the only person who could use his powers without being evil – and, of course, he used his powers to kill every other ExtraOrdinary (EO), because he was on a mission of God and everyone else was evil. It certainly made for an interesting villain – a supposed switch between the typical villain and hero – but he definitely wasn’t my favorite character as a result because he was screwed up and trying to kill all the characters that I did like!
3. Sydney – the adorable and scary little girl who is the real hero
Here’s the official number one in my personal list! I just loved Sydney – she’s this twelve-year-old girl who has a scary power that would freak out people far older than her, but she’s doing her best to keep up with people like Victor and helping him because she thinks that’s right – plus, Eli tried to kill her, all because she was unfortunate enough to become an EO against her will. Maybe it’s because my main age group in books is YA, but since Sydney would fit in more with MG, I don’t think Sydney is my favorite just because she’s younger. Maybe it’s just because she’s a young girl stuck in a scary world and dangerous men and a fabulous dog who I would have loved to see even more of – maybe I just have odd reasons for choosing favorite characters.
4. Serena – the villain who deserved more development and screen time
Serena is Sydney’s older sister, and she’s a perfect example of someone who is not a good person but who fascinated me. She did some awful things to her sister, but I still felt a sisterly bond between them and would have loved to see more of their relationship. She’s working with Eli, which means she’s part of the “bad” side in this book, but she interested me a lot more than Eli. Really, I would have liked if this book had been from the point of view of both sisters, even if the moral dilemmas and such wouldn’t have been quite as interesting as Victor and Eli’s.
Overall, this was a quite interesting book. Even though my favorite characters weren’t the main protagonist and antagonist, the story was quite interesting throughout – the only real issue was how much the book switched back and forth between present and past – it threw me a little at first, especially when I just wanted everything at once. I’m glad to see that Victoria/V.E. Schwab can write interesting adult books as well as YA, and I can’t wait to check out more of her works.