Genres: Science Fiction
Format Read: Paperback
Published by Titan Books on January 10th 2014
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 arch-nemeses have set a course for revenge — but who will be left alive at the end?
Yes guys, I finally read Vicious! And yes, I did very much enjoy it — it made me think, it made me question its themes, and most of all, this book made me recommend it to my workmates.
I am a HUGE fan of superhero movies and TV shows, but for some reason, I can’t recall ever reading a superhero book (comics don’t count). I wasn’t sure the format could really do justice to the genre (look, I really like those chases and fight scenes alright?!), so I feel like I kept pushing this book back on my TBR pile for that very reason. What if it wasn’t good and overhyped?! I hate being disappointed by an overhyped book.
Luckily, Vicious definitely lived up to its expectations. It’s not so much a superhero book, but one about antiheroes. I found myself constantly glued to the book, and even whipped it out during lunch time (I tend to not read during work hours because I chat with coworkers during lunch).
Vicious is an exploration of good vs. evil at its very heart. Victor and Eli are best friends — drawn together by their similar ambitions. Eli is the beloved student that won the girl Victor was crushing on, comes first in the class and has a personality that draws everyone in. Victor on the other hand, is more isolated, with some deep familial problems that I won’t go into. Despite their differences, they find themselves drawn to each other, each using the other to push themselves further in all aspects of their lives.
When Eli’s thesis on the existences of ‘ExtraOrdinaries’ start to reveal some interesting results, and a brilliant possibility, Victor decides he wants to play a part in it. As the thesis shifts from being purely academic to actually possible, things start to go horribly wrong.
Vicious is split into two timelines — one during Victor and Eli’s university days, and then ten years into the future, after Victor breaks out of jail for murder. I immensely enjoyed the way we flicked back and forth between the past and present — while this method made the story feel disjointed, piece by piece the mysterious events fall into place.
The story was intriguing in itself, but what really set the bar high was the characters. I could vividly picture each and every character in this book, despite the constant switches in narration. These shifts are abrupt with no set switch, but they still made sense as the pieces fall into place and reveal themselves.
Vicious tackles a few interesting themes; The right to immortality, free will, good vs. evil, and people playing God, just to name a few. Each theme was an interesting exploration of the human psyche, and I never felt like Schwab was trying to push any agenda or her own personal beliefs on us. It was very much an exploration of powers, and how it would affect and shape someone.
I’m sure many would agree with me when I say the most interesting part of the book is the exploration of good and evil. Vicious makes you ask: ‘If you’re seen as a hero but do evil things, does that still make you a hero?’ and on the flip side, ‘If you’re considered the villain but only want to stop the hero from killing people…are you still the villain?’. And of course the age old ‘what makes someone a hero or villain’?
All these questions are open-ended, but it was interesting to explore. Victor and Eli are two extremely memorable characters that I will not be forgetting anytime soon.
Don’t be like me and push Vicious back on your TBR. This book is well worth your time!