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?
Describing Vicious with just one word is easy: Unique.
Writing a whole review about it and why I love this book so much is a whole different case. I tried every time I read this book but never managed to write a coherent review until now. Vicious is one of my favorite books and doing it justice in a review feels impossible. Vicious is all kinds of amazing and you should just go and start reading the book if you haven’t read it yet.
Vicious is about people suddenly gaining unusual abilities. But this is not your typical book about people with powers. This is not about people using their powers to help other people, about people doing good. It’s also not about people using their powers to take over the world, about people doing bad. Instead it follows the theme of bad VS. worse and people using their powers for their personal gain but not on the typical grand scale but within their own little world. Vicious is about friends and family turning into enemies and it’s like nothing I have ever read.
“Are you one of the bad ones?”
“Some would say so.”
“I don’t think you’re a bad person, Victor.”
“It’s all a matter of perspective.”
What makes this theme so fascinating is that there are no clear signs that show you who you should root for, who the lesser evil is. It’s all a matter of perspective. Not any of these characters are good people but they aren’t bad through and through either and that made me fall in love with them. Their reasons for the things they do seem valid and logical and even though you know it’s still bad what they do, you can’t not like them and cheer them on. These characters are broken and they seem the carry the weight of the world on their shoulders. They want to do good but their actions are actually bad and this is exactly the kind of character I love the most. Far away from being perfect, just trying so damn hard to do what they think is right and messing up in the process.
Something else that I love a lot are the special relationships of these characters. Friends turn into enemies, but also new friendships are formed. Trust is broken, but also new trust is formed. And that all between characters that couldn’t be more different but at the same time have so much in common. These relationships are messed up and complicated which makes them so captivating to read about.
Schwab doesn’t only come up with these crazy epic ideas though. Her way of telling the story is equally amazing. I absolutely loved that the story is told from both the past and the present as well as indicating a bigger future event to come. Reading about each of these characters as they were younger, how they gained their powers and how they changed after was really interesting and I loved that we did not only get to know them as the people they are now but also how they were like before they got their powers. Seeing how it changed not only them but also their relationships and how it all led to this big showdown at the end is nothing but gripping.
I’ve always loved stories about people with powers but Schwab added a whole new twist to the idea. Only a few pages in and I fell in love with this story and its characters. Multiple rereads later and I still love them to pieces. This unique take on powers will never get boring and I can’t wait to read more about Victor, Eli & Co.