The Book: Vicious by VE Schwab
The Rating: 4.5🌟
“Plenty of humans were monstrous, and plenty of monsters knew how to play at being human.”
Are you one of those people who buys a book because everyone is talking about it, and you think it sounds really good? Then said book sits on your bookshelf for years, unopened, just waiting for you to read it?
I am one of those people – and Vicious was one of those books for me. It is only thanks to Vicky and Kate (and the fact that VE Schwab is coming to YALC this year) that I finally decided to pick up this book, and I’m so happy that I did!
I absolutely love VE Schwab’s writing style – have done since I first read the Shades of Magic series, so I knew I’d enjoy the writing. What I was a little worried about was whether I’d like the story itself. Schwab has pitched it as a sort of X-Men story in the past, so I had high hopes and I wasn’t disappointed!
There are definite X-Men vibes to this story, but I also so a lot of Batman themes as I was reading (Merit = Gotham City) which was really cool, as I love comic books and this book had a great comic-like feel to it. The writing in this book is also a lot more gritty than in the Shades of Magic books, so if you haven’t read it yet, be prepared for that!
Eli Cardale and Victor Vale are incredibly intelligent university students, both with an interest in science. An experiment in their senior year leads to both of them developing Extraordinary powers, which in turn leads to the start of all of their problems.
The main thing I enjoyed about this story was the two main characters – Victor and Eli. So often in books you have the hero and the villain, but in Vicious this line is blurred beyond belief. Neither one of these character is what you could easily consider a “good” person. In fact, they’re both very, very morally grey. And I love that! I love that this books makes you, the reader, have to choose which of these characters is in the right.
The way VE Schwab tells the story is really interesting as well, and adds to the overall suspense of the book. She flits between the present time and various flashbacks to Victor and Eli’s time in college, Victor’s time in prison and Eli’s childhood. These flashbacks lead to a better understanding of both of these characters, their motivations and desires, and somehow helps you to think of them as more than just villains.
While the story is primarily about Victor and Eli and their journey from friends to enemies, there is an incredible cast of characters to meet: Mitch, the burly hacker that Victor meets in prison, Serena with her incredibly persuasive talents and Sydney, a girl who hides an incredible gift. The relationships between these characters really made me think about Victor and Eli as characters, as well.
Eli and Serena have a relationship that’s based on a struggle for power – he’s always trying to fight against her power, and she’s trying to keep his powers contained.
In comparison, the relationships between Victor, Sydney and Mitch reminded me more of a dysfunctional family, and only helped me to love Victor more as the story progressed.
The final part of the book involved no flashbacks, and was all about what was happening in the present. The confrontation between Eli and Victor at the end is so satisfying and well told, and you can really see why VE Schwab has spent time exploring the different periods in time, as it all comes together at the end in a brilliant and clever conclusion. It rounds the story out, and could wrap it up entirely as there are no massive threads that haven’t been resolved. However, there’s also a neat little set up for book 2, which I’m happy about as I really want to read more about these characters!
Overall, Vicious was an amazing read. It was fast, action packed and really made me think about the fine line between good and evil. Another fantastic book from one of my favourite authors!
Have you read Vicious? Who do you like more – Eli or Victor? Let me know in the comments!