By Robert Drinkwater
For as long as I can remember, I have always been a fan of the super hero genre. I’ve seen almost every Marvel movie. When I first heard about Vicious by V.E. Schwab, I heard that it explores the super hero genre, which made me curious, so I ordered the book on Amazon and began reading it. Personally, I thought that it was the characters that made this story stand out from other books that I have read. Each character is complex and deeply flawed. Each character was portrayed as morally flawed and I felt like everyone served a purpose in this story.
Each character is complex and deeply flawed. When I first heard about this book, I thought that there would be a clear villain and hero, but it was really hard to tell. I’d even go as far as to say that there really weren’t any heroes. While Victor did take in Sydney after she had been shot by Eli, his motives were unclear and it seemed like he only wanted to use her against Eli. Eli believed that he was a messenger of God who murders anyone with a special ability. Both of these characters have a flawed moral compass. Both of these characters have point of view chapters, so we get to see their point of view. Victor wants Eli dead because he was the reason he was put in prison in the first place, and Eli wants anyone with a special ability dead because he believes that they are unnatural.
I thought that Sydney and Serena had an interesting relationship in the novel. Both of them had a near death experience that gave them special abilities. They had a complex relationship as sisters. Before the accident they were close, but afterwards they both became more distance, then Serena met Eli and decided to side with him and kill everyone who was an EO. Throughout the novel, I could see their complex relationship, as Serena was conflicted on whether or not both of them were still fully there, and Sydney had trouble grasping her power and she was heartbroken after Serena betrayed her. In a way their rivalry paralleled the rivalry between Victor and Eli. Both were close until they gained special abilities and drifted apart with conflicting feelings on whether or not these powers made life better or worse.
The relationships the characters had with one another was also a favorite of mine. I enjoyed seeing the development from Victor and Eli’s friendship turn into a deep rivalry. I also liked seeing the relationship between Victor, Mitch and Sydney. Mitch was protective of Sydney and completely loyal to Victor. While it seemed like Victor only using these two to get closer to Eli, he still took them under his wing and protected them. However, my favorite relationship was the relationship between Eli and Serena. Eli tried to kill her, but she thwarted his plan by compelling him to tell her the truth of why he came to see her. Eli is a control freak with a God complex and having him in this type of situation is satisfying to see unfold.
This book is split into two parts, the present day and the past. In the past it follows the characters of Victor Vale and Eli Cardale, senior college students who are best friends and room mates. Eli decides to make the topic of his thesis on EO’s( ExtraOrdinary people), people with special abilities. An experiment goes wrong and these friends are turned into enemies. The present follows both of them ten years later. Victor has just escaped prison and is set on getting revenge on Eli with the help of Mitch, his hacker friend from prison, and Sydney, a thirteen year old girl who can raise the dead with a single touch. Eli on the other hand has dedicated his life to killing EO’s because he believes that they are unnatural and go against God, with the help of Serena, Sydney’s older sister who can control other peoples thought and actions. As this story unfolds we learn more about each character as the final confrontation between friends turned enemies Victor and Eli looms ahead.
Overall, I thought that this was an excellent novel that portrayed complex and realistic characters, characters that I love to hate (Eli and Serena), along with interesting relationship dynamics. Even though Victor and Eli were the main characters, Sydney, Mitch, and Serena all had a few point of view chapters as well I felt like each character served a purpose in the story. One of my favorite parts was the fact that each character had their own backstory. The plot was nuanced and did not feel rushed. I enjoyed how there wasn’t any unnecessary fluff or romantic subplot. Everything was well placed and the backstory chapters of the characters was probably my favorite part. I think that this is a great stand alone novel that put a twist on the superhero genre with having no clear hero, along with deeply morally flawed characters. There is a sequel titled Vengeance, which follows a new character. I plan on reading this book in the future. I hope that it will be as good as its predecessor.