Release Date: September 24 2013
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?
“All Eli had to do was smile. All Victor had to do was lie. Both proved frighteningly effective.”
In superhero fiction – whether books or comics or movies – there are certain pre-conceived notions about “good” and “evil.” Or more specifically about “heroes” and “villains.”
V E Schwab takes these ideas and turns them right on their head.
Imagine there was a way to achieve superhuman (or ExtraOrdinary) powers. It’s not a guarantee but there’s a damn good chance. Would you try it? Or would you err on the side of caution? For Victor and Eli the choice is easy. They must try it – sure it’s dangerous and reckless, but as you’ll soon find out Victor and Eli are dangerous and reckless men.
The narrative switches almost seamlessly between their efforts to become ExtraOrdinarys (or EOs) and their showdown in the present. Bit by bit the reader is fed pieces of information, clues as to what happened to turn two best friends into mortal enemies locked in battle until one or both of them is dead. But despite this very deliberate pacing, the story never drags. Instead it keeps you hanging onto every page, every word, dying to see what pieces will fall into place next. Schwab is such a brilliant author that you’re willing to sit back and let her writing consume you. You know you’re in extremely capable hands.
The nice thing about Vicious is that it doesn’t feel overly plot driven or overly character driven. There’s a nice balance. The plot is dark and twisty but the characters are intriguing. Eli Ever has built his adult life around “saving” people. Which people exactly? Well that’s tough to say. To suggest Eli lives in a moral grey area would be understating his cause. But Victor Vale is no saint either. Having just spent the last ten years in prison he is dead set on one thing and one thing only – killing Eli. Both of these characters have totally twisted moralities, but at the same time you can follow their rationale. Schwab has created such complex and fascinating characters, it still feels like they’re living in my head, skulking around, causing a ruckus.
Vicious is a dark, bloody and brilliant novel. It examines the concepts of good and evil, it explores what it means to be a hero, it asks how you judge a human life with all its flaws, complexities and intentions. The characters, the tension, the action and the writing itself are just SO GOOD.
Is it too soon to call Book of the Year? Possibly – but my money is on Vicious taking the prize.
About the Author
Victoria is the product of a British mother, a Beverly Hills father, and a southern upbringing. Because of this, she has been known to say “tom-ah-toes,” “like,” and “y’all.” She also tells stories. She loves fairy tales, and folklore, and stories that make her wonder if the world is really as it seems.
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