4 out of 5 stars. The most recent in my V.E. Schwab reading obsession, Vicious is a dark comic book-esque story of ordinary people who, through extreme trauma, become ExtraOrdinary. Victor Vale is out for revenge. Eli Ever thinks he’s doing God’s work. And caught up between their single-minded pursuits to stab the hell out of each other are a cast of interesting and complex side characters.
Schwab’s writing is as great as always, giving distinct voice to the cast of characters and creating a picturesque world for them to thrive in. The “how” behind the ExtraOrdinary (EO) people isn’t especially complex—they experience near death experiences and come out of them with superhero like powers—but this lack of detail wasn’t a detriment to my enjoyment of the story. Perhaps one of my favorite parts of the mechanics behind the EOs is that their final thoughts at death influence the powers they possess upon “reviving.” It makes for endlessly interesting and complex possibilities for powers, and I love that it wasn’t just entirely random, that this abnormality had some kind of psychological origin.
The plot of Vicious is straight-forward: Victor and Eli were college best friends. They made some poor life choices and became EOs. Eli, thinking he’s doing God’s work, tries to kill Victor, then goes on to keep killing EOs because they are “unnatural.” Victor wants revenge. Everything in the book revolves around this central conflict, creating a fast-paced drama that whisks you along one part of Victor’s plan to the next. I liked it a lot for this, though I hope that Vengeful spends some more time with Mitch and Dominic’s own motivations and goals.
Victor’s sort of a self-centered jerk, and I like that about him, too, but I hope he learns something from this experience and doesn’t just rush headlong into Eli’s path again in Vengeful. Which I’m sure is what will happen, but hey, maybe there will be some more character growth between the two.
Schwab is easily one of my favorite authors for her strong characters, solid writing, and interesting world building, so I’ll be picking up Vengeful Soon(TM) to see where things go for Victor’s team next.