Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Summary: “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?” (Goodreads).
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 was really 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.”
Ever since finishing Vicious, I’ve been conflicted over what to rate it. I definitely loved it, yes, and found it fascinating, but something was missing. I can’t exactly pinpoint what, but there’s something that didn’t feel right to me. Hence, I’m giving it four stars.
Perhaps, it’s the plot, which I can assuredly say isn’t in my comfort zone. I can also assuredly say some of the content in this book…threw me off, to put it lightly. This book isn’t necessarily something to take lightly. It’s rather dark, and I think a tad unsettling. That isn’t to say I’m rating it down because of content, but more that I’m rating it down partially because I didn’t fully enjoy this because of the content.
Onto the things I did like though: the characters and most of the plot. As far as characters go, this book has one of the most unique casts of characters that I’ve ever read. Victor and Eli are both “extraordinarily” (get it?) weird in their own ways, and both rather…villainous. Eli’s a terrible person and that’s pretty much established, but I don’t particularly think Victor is a good person either. Victor is a conflicting character; I love him, but I don’t love what he does. He’s positively an anti-hero. There’s no question about it. As for Eli, I most certainly do not love him. Looking at the other characters, I love Sydney and feel really bad for her. That girl’s been through a lot. I also commend Schwab for writing a middle-schooler well. Sydney doesn’t act like an adult, even though she may have been through mature situations. She’s a very well done character. Continuously, I loved Mitch too. He’s your average guy (as far as criminals go), but he goes along with all of Victor’s antics and I just love him? He’s so precious (and huge!!). He never once questions his loyalty to Victor and Sydney, which I found rather sweet.
Plenty of humans were monstrous, and plenty of monsters knew how to play at being human.”
As for the plot, I do have to say I fell in love with it. I love morally-grey stories and this is about as morally-grey as you can get without writing about complete-evil. This story is dark, as I’ve already said, so some aspects of the plot weren’t…kind. I can’t say I was fond of people becoming ExtraOrdinary by dying (and Victor and Eli basically killing themselves to get to that state), but the concept of it itself was fascinating.
This is a superhero story without any heroes.
(I’m falling more in love with the book as I write the review…I’m so sad I’m giving this four stars…I’M CONFLICTED).
Moreover, I thought I’d hate the formatting because it jumps all over time and tells the pre-story during the current-story, but it worked really well. I don’t think this book would have worked so well differently, honestly. Can I just say that VE Schwab is a queen? And at this point I’ll read anything she ever writes? Except for The Archived #2?
I highly recommend picking this up, but if you’re not keen on some of the darker things I mentioned, it might not be for you. Or at least proceed with caution.
Did you know that when you take away a person’s fear of pain, you take away their fear of death? You make them, in their own eyes, immortal. Which of course they’re not, but what’s the saying? We are all immortal until proven otherwise?”