“Someone could call themselves a hero and still walk around killing dozens. Someone else could be labeled a villain for trying to stop them. Plenty of humans were monstrous, and plenty of monsters knew how to play at being human.”V.E. Schwab, Vicious
It’s still September, (and here I am hoping I can publish this review in September) so it’s #Schwabtember and I joined in the fun by reading Vicious for the very first time. I know, wow you’re like so late to the party. But, to be honest, for the longest time I have been looking forward to buying this book but once I had it in my shelf, I get extremely anxious thinking about reading it. And it’s simply because the hype was so up there for this book that I was so scared not to love it as much. But alas, here we are and I am still, certified Schwab trash.
The monumental, big elephant in the room question that this book poses is, What makes a hero and what makes a villain? Is it the perspective of what makes such a person? And meeting Victor Vale and Eli Ever also had me thinking of this question, until the present time. Vicious was the delicious twist to my guilty pleasure of hero/villain trope, but instead got thrown into a blender, mixed in with a dash of x-men, science, morality, religion and a hearty serving of Schwab brilliance, and we have this masterpiece.
” If Eli really was a hero, and Victor meant to stop him, did that make him a villain?”V.E. Schwab, Vicious
If you’ve read a A Darker Shade of Magic, you’ll know that that book is full of adventure, magic, and mystery. Vicious sets itself apart from the other Schwab books I have read so far, with a fast pace and a very character driven plot and I ate up every single moment of it. This book is a gripping and wicked tale of two friends, anti-heroes, superpowers and revenge. There is no big adventure, on the contrary, the events in the book spans out for only a couple of days, and flashbacks of the past. Every decision, every step that each character makes in Vicious affects their purpose, their future and the resolve of the story.
Usually, when we read books, we are used to finding affinity with the characters in the books. But in this case, I felt like the detachment works with Vicious. In a way, I was an audience to the thrilling events that unfolded with the characters decisions that ultimately led to consequences. Victor Vale and Eli Ever are some, if not the most morally gray characters I have ever encountered, so it was difficult to empathize with them, both of them were very ambitious individuals who was ready to embrace all the ugly and heinous things they will have to commit. At the same time, there was the constant intrigue towards Eli, what were the conditions of his past that drove him to what he was at the present time? I was craving to get to know him more beyond the mad genius that he was. And there was the rooting for Victor, even as he declared himself the villain, but there was still the I-know-you’re-good-((maybe))-so-I’m-rooting-for-you voice in my head.
The side characters of this book weren’t really like a filler role either. They were all equally important to drive the story forward. I specially love Sydney and Serena’s story. Where one sister is a necromancer, raising people and animals from the dead, and the other is a siren, she can command a person to do her bidding. The more that the story progressed, we see clearer of the motives behind their actions. Mitch was also a special snowflake, how he stuck around Victor and the irony of his character, really. I absolutely adored the dynamics between Victor, Sydney and Mitch.
Safe had ceased to be a place for Sydney. It had become a person. Specifically, safe had become Victor.V.E. Schwab, Vicious
One of my favorite parts of this book is how Schwab formulated on how to tell it. She started with the present, Victor Vale got out of jail and he was looking for his dearest friend, Eli Ever, to destroy him. Then we see the beginning of their relationship, being roommates in Lockland University, how Eli got fascinated by EOs, and Victor following down the rabbit hole, then ultimately decided to play God that led to their present predicament. I really enjoyed how it wasn’t a quick give away on how things unfolded, but it was like Schwab left a trail of crumbs every chapter that led to the gingerbread house of revenge.
Ultimately, Vicious was such a great and refreshing read for me. I had different expectations but what I got was so much more than I asked for. And if you’re in the market for morally ambiguous antiheroes, then Vicious is the first choice in my bookshelf.