I read Vicious with a friend and wow, I think I fell in love with VE Schwab all over again. I knew she loved a good villain, but writing a story about two villains fighting each other with superhuman powers was exactly what I needed.
Here’s more about Vicious
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.
Wow. Wow. Ok, now that I’m done freaking out about Vicious, let’s talk about it. Honestly, I felt like I was reading a graphic novel the entire time. It’s kind of funny that there’s a set of graphic novels about to come out based within the world, but outside the story. I can easily see this translated to that medium and I would 100% pick it up if it does. The story goes back and forth between perspectives and time. You see how Eli and Victor become the people they are, you see the ultimate battle between the two and how they went from being friends to being enemies. It’s literally like watching the origin story between Magneto and Charles Xavier happening in front of your eyes.
Also, the way people get their superpowers is so dark and twisted. Near death experiences plus being revived and having your final thoughts be somehow connected to the powers you get? It’s spectacular and haunting. There was such a dark shroud throughout the story and I was here for every moment of it.
The story follows Victor and Eli, two incredibly intelligent students who were best friends. Now, they’re enemies and this book goes into how these two besties went after each other with a vengeance. In school, Eli wanted to test the theory of becoming ExtraOrdinary; think mutants from X-Men. He found out that it’s a combination of acknowledging your death during a near-death experience, coming back, and having powers to combat the final thought you had. For example, if you were thinking that you don’t want to die right at the same time you do, you can come back with the ExtraOrdinary power to heal super fast. That’s exactly what Eli does.
Victor also goes through the same process, but instead of having the power to heal super fast, he has the power to take and give pain. From removing all pain where you are numb to everything to giving you all the pain that it nearly kills you. However, things go wrong for Victor when he’s accused of killing his best friend’s girlfriend spending the next ten years in prison for his crimes.
During this time, other ExtraOrdinary people are being systematically killed by someone. It’s not when Victor escapes from prison that he finds out who that is and intends not only to stop the killings, but also enact his revenge. Ugh, if this doesn’t read like you’re reading a DC comic or something even darker than Batman, I don’t know what. This story is so in line with what VE Schwab is usually writing and if you’re a huge fan of the Darker Shade of Magic series, then I highly recommend this one too.
There were so many little nuance things happening as well like Sydney and her sister Serena, the guy that broke out of prison with Victor and how he considers himself a bad luck jinx. Everyone also get their own narrative in the story, which made it so much more fun to get inside these character’s heads and discover more about this wild world.
Overall, definitely loved this one. I’ve already bought book 2 and plan on reading it soon. It’s definitely a series that I’m excited for and I’m so happy VE Schwab is returning to it and writing more in this world. I cannot wait!