In Vicious we follow Victor Vale’s revenge plot against his former best friend and college roommate, Eli Ever, a conflict that dates back to their days in college when they both achieved superpowers after experimenting on themselves. Victor just broke out of prison and he’s here to stay.
First of all, this book had my interest at “Superpowers”. I love superhero narratives, and this book took all the tropes from superhero stories and completely turned them upside down to create a really intriguing novel that keeps making you question who the superhero is and who the villain, or even if there really are heroes in this story.
Both, Victor and Eli are not alone in this. Victor is accompanied by his former cell mate and accomplice in breaking out of prison, Mitch, as well as Sydney, a 13 year-old girl who was shot at by Eli before Victor found her. Meanwhile, Eli teams up with Sydney’s sister Serena, who has an unbreakable will, and the police officers she convinced that Eli is a hero, not a murderer. All three of them are a great way of learning more about Victor and Eli, and where Serena and Mitch are restricted in their knowledge since they only know one of them personally, Sydney serves as a great character to point out the differences between them. She’s a great way of going in between the two and see how both of them compare to each other in other people’s perception.
I found it really interesting how Schwab explored what it means to be a superhero.It’s really interesting to see how Eli and Victor themselves see what they’re doing and especially how Eli rationalizes his actions. Ultimately the question of who’s the hero out of the two of them, or if either of them even is a hero is something that everyone has to answer for themselves, but whatever the result is Schwab takes us on a thrilling trip to try and make up our minds.
While the concept in itself is not particularly new and similar questions have cropped up in comic stories like Marvel’s Civil War I don’t think I have seen it done from quite the same angle or with the same intensity as Schwab does in her novel.
★★★★★ (5 Stars)
Publication Date: 10 January 2014
Publisher: Titan Books
Page Count: 340
Genre: Fantasy, Science Fiction, Paranormal
A masterful tale of ambition, jealousy, desire, and superpowers. 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.