Vicious by V. E. Schwab is the first in the Villains series. I have to admit: I only read this book because my editor recommended it to me.
But I am very glad she did!
It had many great parts, from the morally grey characters to the complexity of the God complex and the ingenious way people got their powers.
V. E. Schwab is actually the name used by Victoria Schwab to make a difference between her adult and her YA books (for which she’s also well-known).
As always, you can either scroll down to read the full book review for Vicious, or click here to go to the conclusion.
Genre: Adult Urban Fantasy | Publisher: Tor Books
Victor and Eli are both brilliant and arrogant college roommates. For their final thesis, they share an interest in adrenaline, near-death experiences, and supernatural events. What if, under the right circumstances, someone could become ExtraOrdinary? However, everything changes when they go from theory to practice, and things go horribly wrong, with Victor ending up in jail. After ten years, he gets out of prison with just one goal in mind: get to Eli and get his revenge.
I’m a sucker for nonlinear stories, so it’s safe to say that I loved it in Vicious as well. When it’s done well, it just adds suspense. And I’m a very nosy person, so I always want to find out what happened all those years ago to prompt what is going on in the present-day storyline.
The ending was great.
I didn’t see it coming. I thought for sure Victor was going to do something else. However, I have read reviews by some other people who did see it coming and found it a bit disappointing. So, you can see how tastes differ. I think it’s mostly because it didn’t have a huge action sequence; don’t expect an epic battle of sorts, like you would if this were an MCU- or DC-type of book.
Yes, Victor and Eli have powers and have proven to be capable of violence, but… the competition between Victor and Eli has always been intellectual at its core. Victor is always trying to prove he’s smarter than Eli. So, that’s something to keep in mind.
The characters in Vicious were a large part of what makes this book great. Victor was such an intriguing character. He was the main protagonist, but absolutely not a typical hero. He does the things he does for his own selfish reasons. Which, most of the time, is to be better than Eli and to uncover the monster that he knows is underneath Eli’s mask.
Speaking of which, Eli is very well-written too. We don’t get his POV until later in the story, but it was great to have more insight into his twisted mind. It shows you how someone can think others like him can be completely wrong yet be convinced that he is somehow different. It’s the God complex to the max.
The other, more minor characters were fleshed out properly as well. Sydney and Mitch were great additions to the cast, as they gave Victor some more humanity. I think without them, Victor would’ve been a lot less likable.
The way people could get powers and become ExtraOrdinary was ingenious; I have to say. The whole concept was rooted in physiology, neurology, and I suppose some psychology, making it more realistic. Heck, I began to think something like this might actually be possible. Schwab convinced me.
As for the world itself, it’s similar to our own world, so it wasn’t difficult to imagine. The university campus had a real authentic feel to it, along with the labs. A large part of the story also takes place in a hotel, which had sufficient detail.
The writing in Vicious was excellent. It flows so well that I just burned through the book easily. It’s very visual, creating these clear images in your mind like you’re watching a movie instead of reading a book.
Personally, I tend to gravitate more toward ‘flowery’ prose. Beautiful descriptions and clever similes and metaphors just make me happy. But still, it’s also nice to read something that’s quick and easy. Not everything needs to be more literary.
I also think that style of writing fits well with Victor’s practice of marking out of the words in his parent’s book: straight and to the point. Everything else is just marked away, so to speak.
Vicious by V. E. Schwab is a must-read if you love exploring the darker side of life. There are no real heroes here, just rivals. If you love the debate of the God complex, and what makes someone right or wrong (and is there even such a thing), then this is a great book.
Schwab spends ample time with the characters, they’re all well-rounded, and the worldbuilding is impeccable and full of detail. The writing is easy and straight to the point, making this book an easy and fascinating read.