Vicious (V.E.Schwab)

The strange thing about bank holiday weekends is how completely, utterly and thoroughly they throw your week off. A Tuesday becomes a Monday and bam, it takes you the rest of the week to be able to wake up in the morning and not need to check what day it is.

Last week, I attended the Tolkien Lecture at Oxford University, where one of my favourite authors was giving the lecture. It was, of course, the wonderful Victoria Schwab. Her lecture was on doors, to fiction, to fantasy, to writing and it was bloody amazing. You can watch it here and I highly recommend you do So! At this event, I picked up Vicious. I have to admit, a large part of me was hugely curious about the book, as so much of Victoria’s (highly entertaining) Twitter feed has been devoted to complaining about editing Vengeful, the much anticipated sequel due out in September 2018. So I picked up the book and started reading .

Unfortunately I was in some sort of book hangover from the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society so I actually had to put Vicious down and try again while at my parents. And I really enjoyed it when I did.

Vicious is superpowers and best friends who become the hero and the villain…but they both think they are the hero and the other the villian. The story is told primarily through Victor Vale, Eli Cardale and Sydney (A teenager with a gunshot wound Victor picks up along the way). It jumps around in time, starting when Victor breaks out of prison, and going back to Victor and Eli at college, curious about ExtraOrdinary (EOs) beings and what it might take to flag or become one. Until they decide to try their theories out. And suddenly two pre-med students with an unhealthy amount of curiosity with near death experiences become each other’s enemies.

I’ll be honest, if you’ve been around a while you know I would read V.E.Schwabs shopping list and declare it a work of art. I love her stuff. I certainly enjoyed this book too but don’t worry, not as much as A darker shade of magic. The main premise of vicious is that people are the hero of their own story. Victor knows he’s been cast the villain, but Eli is convinced he is a hero and this questions the morality and that conviction that they are both right. Victor knows he is out for revenge, Eli thinks he’s doing God’s work. Honestly it’s really clever.

I liked the characters, and how they are flawed – there isn’t one perfect person in the whole book. They’re all selfish and willing to do pretty much anything for what they believe in. Because each character has such wildly different motivations, it’s a little more believable, even if the superhero is the fantasy. In terms of Schwabs doors, this one has one foot firmly in the real world and one taking off down fantasy highway route 66.

I’ll confess I didn’t enjoy as much as some of her other books, but the writing was incredible and the science behind the EOs was pretty damn neat. I am really looking forward to Vengeful to see what else happens in this world where EOs don’t quite belong either.

Has vicious been on your reading list? What did you think?


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