V. E. Schwab’s Vicious has been on my ‘To Read’ list on Goodreads since the beginning of the year, though the book has been out since 2014, quite frankly I don’t know what took me so long. The novel is gritty and inventive and my review will do it no justice.
‘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?’
I love the development of the relationship dynamics between Victor, Mitch and Sydney and how Victor’s values in people really differ from the norm. Sydney’s innocence combined with her bravery, Victor’s casual nonchalance regarding his level of guilt or his conscience when causing pain show a juxtaposition in character building that I really enjoyed reading. Even Mitch’s physical appearance compared to his level of intelligence, which I’ve seen in several books before didn’t come across as too obvious or patronising to the reader.
Schwab expertly balances on the line between good and bad, so much so even when the characters are considering their own position, you’re not so sure yourself;
“The paper called Eli a hero.The word made Victor laugh. Not just because it was absurd, but because it posed a question. If Eli really was a hero, and Victor meant to stop him, did that make him a villain?”Excerpt from Vicious
Victor doesn’t so much as battle with his understanding of right or wrong, rather he just takes on the part of the villain, which Eli has painted him to be. Eli, in contrast, deeply believes his path of righteousness is good and doesn’t see the irony in his resulting actions.
I really enjoyed reading the events as they unfolded, I honestly had no idea where the story was going and as the action picked up, I continued to appreciate the minor twists and turns the novel took. The only thing that disappointed me was the knowledge that this is not a standalone novel.