Vicious is, undoubtedly, extremely vicious. I’ve read books like this one before – ones that made me feel horrified, disgusted, but still intrigued and unable to look away. But the beauty of Vicious is that it keeps me hoping, and it LEAVES me hoping, despite the hopelessness that I feel throughout the story. My first Victoria Schwab book has already torn me apart, for better or for worse, but I know I WANT MORE!
College roommates Victor Vale and Eli Cardale both have dark pasts, screwed up personalities, and brilliant minds. So when Eli says that he’s doing his thesis on EOs (ExtraOrdinaries), Victor is skeptical but agrees to helps out nonetheless. Things go haywire when the two decide to try to make themselves into EOs… can their friendship – and the world – survive the aftermath?
I knew very little about Vicious going into it – something about superheroes, friends turning against each other, and that’s about it. (And I knew that everyone went crazy over Vicious at some point on the blogosphere, so there’s that, haha.) I think knowing this little about the book actually augmented my reading experience, in this case, because Vicious was full of surprises. Not so much twists and turns in the plot, but more of fast-paced, super-graphic events that really shocked me.
I actually really liked Victor and Eli’s twisted characters (aren’t we all attracted to flaws and imperfections?) as well as their companions that show up later in the book. We are presented with multiple narratives – third-person perspectives, yay! – in Vicious, so I think that also helped me feel more connected with the characters. There’s no good versus evil in Vicious – rather, it’s a fight of evil versus eviller (or bad and worse, as the book puts it). And yet, I find myself drawn to all of these characters because they have their own beliefs in what’s “right”, and those beliefs make them seem more human. The narratives also jump back and forth in time, which also exposed more of each character’s backstory and their initial intents.
He wanted to care, he wanted to care so badly, but there was this gap between what he felt and what he wanted to feel, a space where something important had been carved out. And it was growing.
And I say “seem more human” because, really, most of these characters are merciless and lacking something human. (Interestingly, the characters themselves are also aware of this absence of something.) This leads me to my next point: so much violence! People are killed and tortured without remorse, and overall, there are a lot of vivid descriptions that are not for the faint of heart. It gives Vicious a shock factor that I would love to see adapted to the big screen… but then I’d probably be too scared to watch it, haha. (I actually had to put down the book several times because it just got too graphic for me sometimes.)
This is a book that I stayed up until 3am reading, so without a doubt, Vicious is engrossing and very addicting. The strengths of this book are that it’s action-packed, straightforward, and has a lot of interesting characters. Vicious also puts a spin on the typical good vs. evil superhero vs. villain trope, and it has a refreshingly new premise. I’m definitely looking forward to the sequel!