Title: Vicious (Villains #1)
Author: V.E. Schwab
Genre: Fiction, Fantasy
Publisher: Tor Books
Date published: September 24th 2013
Page Count: 366
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?
One thing that was interesting about the book was how V.E. Schwab portrayed the characters. In a technical sense, Victor Vale was the villain while Eli Ever was the hero. But despite that, you feel inclined to support Victor more. Victor was a complicated character. Most of the things he does are bad and most of his intentions are selfish. But the fact that he befriends Mitch and helps Sydney shows that he has a hint of humanity in him (I hope). Talk about morally grey characters… I wasn’t sure whether I was supposed to sympathize with him or hate him, but I found myself cheering for him nonetheless.
This mindset continued on as I continued reading. It was a frustrating but interesting experience (can you feel both at once?). The psychological dissonance was definitely something that made the reading experience unique. None of the characters could have been labelled as bad or good. Villains were at times morally conscious and supposed heroes were often times irrational. (In my view, all of them felt like villains, just my two cents). I’ll admit that I did not like any of the characters in the book; except Mitch and Sydney.
As much as I did not enjoy the characters, I thought that Schwab did a unique spin on the characters which made it quite memorable. So props to her.
I upped my rating from 3 to 3.5 because of the last three chapters. For the most part, the pacing of the story felt a little slow. The novel was written with two timelines: one takes place in the present, while the other is in the past, catching up to the present. The major plotline takes place in two days, which is essentially a wild chase between Eli and Victor. I loved the last few chapters where everything finally comes together, and just as quickly, unravels. I was very satisfied with the ending and how it wrapped up.
Because I entered the book with high expectations, it didn’t quite hit my expectations, but nevertheless I really liked the premise of the story and the whole science of EOs. Hopefully, Vengeful will be a better surprise with more action and scheming.