I’ve done posts before on my reader weaknesses and one of those particular weaknesses are characters with super powers. I’m especially fond of stories that play with the struggle of having power and show the dark underside of the issue. Villains and antiheroes with power always intrigue me. So I was of course drawn to Vicious by V.E Schwab. But did it appeal to my already high expectations?
Plot- 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?
The Characters- What I love about Victor and Eli is that neither is necessarily the villain or the hero. I mean, we see things from Victor’s perspective but he and Eli are morally on equal ground as far as I’m concerned. But one fights to destroy others with powers and the other fights to protect them. But they’re still both morally ambiguous. The closest thing to a moral center is Sydney, a girl with the stunning ability to bring back the dead. She is likable and I enjoyed her as much as I enjoyed her considerably darker sister. Over all each character is distinct and likable even through the unlikable things they do. And I love how the book approaches power and how it corrupts ambitious young minds.
The Good Points- I’ve raved about the concept and the characters, but I really have to continue on that front. The characters are the focus of this book and the concept surrounding them makes the novel. This novel reads like something out of a comic book and yet far more cynical than most would approach heroes. And don’t get me wrong, I love superheroes. I’m a Marvel girl at heart. But stuff like Vicious gives me life. It dives into the psychology of flawed human beings and lets the intrigue of the characters stand tall. The book is also just really cool. The writing is cool. The images are cool. The story is cool. I found myself whispering that over used word under my breath at many parts. The pacing and jumps through time are handled deftly and never feel forced or confused. A well-crafted story on every level.
The Bad Points- I wanted more. This is the kind of world I could get lost in but as far as I can tell, it ends with no intention of a continuation. I almost wanted a more expansive story so I could meet more of these super powered humans. And I guess my demand for more ultimately means the book was doing something right.
Overall, Vicious is a fun, intriguing and super cool book for any lovers of super heroes and contemporary fantasy. It made not have an optimistic view of human nature, but its exploration is fascinating. Read it and see for yourself!
Final Rating- 5/5 stars