VICIOUS (Villains, #1) | V.E. Schwab
Series: Villains (Book 1)
Hardcover: 400 pages
Publisher: Tor Books; 2 edition
Publication Date: May 29, 2018
“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?”
Wow. JUST WOW. Not what I expected but definitely a welcome surprise. For a while now fellow readers and bloggers have recommended this book to me and, finally, I bought and read the book, and thank god I did because I freaking loved it!
I hadn’t read the synopsis of Vicious until after I had bought it, and so the modern setting and contemporary plot threw me way off. Plus, the original cover had a fantastical quality to it, so I didn’t really know what I was getting into. And having bought the new solid red and black cover, I STILL was unsure what type of story it was until I began reading.
Victor and Eli are not your typical MCs. Neither one of them is particularly a good person. In fact, both have a darkness inside of them that writhes just beneath the surface and that darkness rears its ugly head when challenged or given companionship of a similar nature. And Eli and Victor are just that, of a similar nature. Both are sociopathic, self-serving, reckless, brilliant, arrogant, cruel, just plain mean bastards.
The dynamic between Victor and Eli (especially in their youth) is nuanced and devastating. Frenemy is the word that comes to mind, but they are so much more than that. I love the wicked picture Schwab paints of each of them. Their journey in becoming EOs (ExtraOrdinaries) is much more brutal and nasty than you can imagine. And the results of their ambitions are something frightening, both in the properties of their abilities and in the decay of their relationship.
I love the other characters as well. Sydney and Mitch make perfect foils to Victor’s dark yet charismatic personality, though neither one of their stories is less glamorous than Victor’s. All three of them together are an odd company but they all just work. And Eli’s side of the story is a perilous slope that is made even more interesting with the company that he keeps and the schemes that he devises. Schwab, in short, gives each of her characters a reason for existing.
The author navigates all her characters thoughts and actions using various character narratives, time skips, and flash-forwards, which give Vicious a unique identity and serve to complement the flow of the narrative. Schwab, to put it simply, is brilliant. This book was well-constructed, solidly formatted, and wonderfully compelling. The strongest aspects of the book, of course, are the characters. Once I started reading this book, it was nearly impossible to put it down. Hands down, my favorite book from Schwab so far.