Vicious is an adult superhero novel by VE Schwab. It’s about two former friends, Victor and Eli, as they try to kill each other. There’s just one catch, they both have superpowers. As the novel progresses, the story of their past unfolds and we learn more about how their friendship ended and the motivations of what they are doing begin to surface. I’m not going to talk too much about this, because part of the charm of the book is finding out the backstory.
VE Schwab is another name used by author Victoria Schwab and is mainly to distinguish her adult novels from her young adult works. Vicious is the first book published under this name and her third book overall. And even just from this book, I can feel like she’s going to be a favorite author of mine. I can’t wait to dig into the Shades of Magic trilogy.
I’m usually not a fan of a narrative structure that keeps going back and forth between timelines (it’s also the reason why I’ve not read the Gentlemen Bastards sequels yet) but it really works in Vicious. Every time I find myself questioning why Victor is doing this or what Eli’s motivations are, we get the flashback scene at the right time. And every time I find myself getting bored with the flashbacks, we skip back to the present. It does get a little hectic in the second part, when there’s a few more point of view characters to follow, but for the most part, it kept things interesting and I found myself reading to get to the other side each time a timeline shift happens.
There are parts of the book that reminded me of the Prestige or Death Note, where two rivals struggles with one another and plots to get the upper hand whenever they can. It’s not a constant battle of wits, but it is one long game where they try to bait each other and force the other to make mistakes and expose themselves. The ending was really, really satisfying as all the puzzle pieces fall into place.
To be honest, I can’t think of anything substantial. The only one I can think of is sometimes there are some events that might be considered inconsistencies in the rules of the world, but it could also just be the characters making sure their plan isn’t screwed up because of their assumption. This superpower thing is pretty new to them too. I know that’s super vague, but it plays an important part in the story so I’m not going to spoil it.
Let’s talk about the names of the two central characters – Victor and Eli. Victor. Eli. VE. Victoria. Elizabeth. *Gasp* What if it’s a true story? What if Schwab found a way to unlock superpowers and her power is writing? Anyway, there are also a lot of scenes and themes in the book that reminded me of Frankenstein. Meddling with the domain of god, for example. And the grave digging. And guess who the main character of Frankenstein is? Victor.
I’ve been thinking about dual protagonist stories for a time, and though at first glance, I thought Vicious was one of them, but it’s not. There is a clear protagonist in the story, and while it’s a little murky at first, it becomes rather obvious as the story continues. This is not a bad thing though, Vicious doesn’t assume to be one. It’s just an observation of mine. If you’ve read the book, let me know in the comments if you rooted for Victor or Eli.
Oh, and there’s a short story and an upcoming sequel in 2018. The sequel is titled Vengeful. It would be interesting to see if it features the same characters from this one. I’m torn between wanting to read more about them and leaving their story to explore the world of Vicious.
A tale of two superpowered rivals attempting to outwit each other and be the one to end the other. The story keeps you guessing and wanting to learn more about the characters. Has shades of Death Note and Frankenstein.