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?
Vicious is a few things:
- A story about college roommates who discover that near-death experiences are the key to obtaining superpowers.
- Bloody amazing.
- Probably that book that will get you out of your reading slump.
There are some books that require time to really invest in a book, but Vicious is not one of those books. Schwab’s incredible writing pulls you immediately into a near-future world where ExtraOrdinaries – EO’s, or people with superpowers – exist. It begins as an intellectual quest: two college roommates, both arrogant, ambitious, and intelligent, who pursue a thesis on EO’s (‘an argument for the theoretical feasibility of the existence of ExtraOrdinary people, deriving from laws of biology, chemistry, and psychology’). But when their experiments prove them disastrously right, the story spirals into an amazing dark tale of revenge, deception, wit, betrayal, and power.
“There are no good men in this game.”
Vicious spends a great deal of time exploring the intimate but competitive relationship between Victor and Eli. Though their friendship is tinged with jealousy and bitterness, both possess an unspeakable, visceral need for the other. As their lives, irrevocably intertwined, are about to collide once more after ten years, the energy and dynamic between Victor and Eli spur an intoxicating and gripping narrative. Both are immensely interesting characters; Victor for his unflinching quest for revenge and Eli for his holy, proclaimed righteous mission. Their enigmatic personalities and unapologetic flaws lend them great depth, making them fantastic characters to pick apart and understand.
Victor and Eli are flanked by a cast of fantastic secondary characters that are powerful and incredible on their own. Serena, Mitch, and Sydney were amazing characters; enough that I would be genuinely interested to read their own stories. Not only did Serena and Sydney’s personalities weave perfectly with Eli and Victor’s respectively, but their unique extraordinary abilities heightened the stakes, the tension, and the thrill. Not to mention, the unlikely friendships and dependencies that form created an atmosphere of suspense and foreboding.
If Eli really was a hero, and Victor meant to stop him, did that make him a villain?
He took a long sip of his drink, tipped his head back against the couch, and decided he could live with that.
But what really shines in Vicious is its thought-provoking themes of righteousness, good versus bad, and what constitutes as humanness. Utilizing the idea of a hero versus villain, the narrative – and characters in extension – explore the essence of heroism and villainism. Although the dichotomy is popularly used in media and politics, Vicious blurs the distinction and thereby throws the ideas and constructs we have of heroes and villains into question. And I loved it. I loved that the story subverted the idea that a hero and villain in a story are necessary to make sense of what is right and wrong.
Vicious is addictive, intense, and utterly enjoyable from start to finish. Its story is excellently, expertly told – but you would expect nothing less from Schwab! – with its alternating timelines, each chapter giving more depth and more momentum to its mindblowingly perfect end. With a sequel to Vicious on the way, I have a feeling that Vicious is parts origin story, parts buildup to something even more amazing. Perfect if you are craving a fast-paced read or want something refreshing, Vicious is, easily, one of my favourite books of 2016.
Book Name: Vicious
Book Series: Vicious #1
Author: V.E. Schwab
Publisher: Titan Books
Vicious is one of my favourite books of 2016, and I’m so happy to share my review with all of you. It’s pretty much my go-to recommendation if my friends ask me what’s good. And Vicious is definitely good.
- Have you read Vicious? What did you think?
- Are you excited for the sequel? What are your thoughts? Excited, apprehensive – or both? (Spoiler-free thoughts, please!)
- Did you like how heroes and villains were portrayed in Vicious?