There are no heroes in Vicious. The pages are dominated by the egos of two college best friends, who happen to discover the secret to Extra Ordinary beings. God complexes, obsession, and super villains.
At first, I was a little worried that I wouldn’t like this book after my disappointment with The Book Of Speculation, but I was consumed by the beautiful lyricism and quickness of V.E. Schwab’s story telling. I kept flipping the pages trying to figure out who’s side I would be on by the end of this novel. Victor or Eli’s? There’s no way to fully divulge into the characters and plot without spoiling anything, but I will say this. No one is a good person in this book.
Because I was introduced to Victor first, I was more empathetic towards him but by the end I was convinced that he was simply more likeable than Eli. Not any better by any means. I loved every single character, but I was a bit confused by Serena’s motives. She turns on her sister for seemingly no reason, but Schwab explains that E.O.s (extra ordinary people) lose parts of themselves when they gain their powers. Maybe that was the point? She probably could’ve conveyed it better, but that is my only critique.
Vicious isn’t preachy, but it asks the reader to think critically about what makes someone a good or bad. Everyone in this book commits a crime. No one is innocent (save for Sydney but that’s debatable). Eli and Victor do bad things but I found their reasons to be valid. What separates the two is Eli’s unyielding denial. Victor is completely honest about his cruel intentions. As I was reading, I could tell that Schwab is really into anime or comics books. This was a perfect superhero/super villain story.
V.E. Schwab has become a new favorite of mine and I encourage everyone to go out and get Vicious. I believe it’s one of her lesser known books. It’s not YA. It’s not romance. I honestly can’t give this book a generic label. It wasn’t necessarily action packed but it was insanely INTENSE and suspenseful. It was incredibly different from what I’m used to reading. I hope she plans to expand on this universe and bless me with a second book.
TLDR; If you love fast paced YA you will love Vicious. The plot moves along smoothly, its prose is easy to digest but still meaningful, all of the characters are likeable, and it wraps up nicely. Lots of violence and blood. Tons of blood really.