Vicious by VE Schwab

A story of loss and ultimately a story of revenge.
Vicious book cover

Victor and Eli, due to a research project gone wrong, become ExtraOrdinaries (referred to as EO's from here on in) with supernatural powers. Ten years later Victor escapes from prison, determined to get his revenge on the man who put him there, while Eli has spent the years hunting down and killing other EOs. Driven by the memory of betrayal and loss, the arch-nemeses have set a course for revenge...

V. E. Schwab gives us an epic tale of extraordinary people and what that means, not only on an individual level but also whether they should exist or not. Following the lives of two students, Victor Vale and Eli Cardale, from when they start a mission to work out if there is such a thing as an EO and if so - are these people born this way or made through some kind of trauma? This leads to a number of questions and although both Victor and Eli are obviously smart people, they are drawn to each other as competitive kindred spirits. Their paths then split onto very different courses which leads us into a fascinating character study on what it means to be a hero, or a villain, and are these terms ultimately definable? Are some people’s powers better than others or are all EO’s a risk to society at large?

The book itself is fast-paced and flashes between the past and present, whilst also flicking between different character's perspectives to give a well-rounded story. The story begins in the present, where Victor and Eli haven’t seen each other in ten years and then the story jumps back to when they first met as students at an exclusive school. I found that the concept was really interesting, you get a feel for the characters which continues to build as you find out more about their past and how it has affected them in the future.

As well as Victor and Eli, there are lots of other characters surrounding them for various reasons and it is good the author allows us to understand these character's motivations - like why a nearly 13 year old girl like Sydney is hanging out with Victor. With most of these characters having EO’s it is interesting to see how they deal with this predicament - is this a reward of punishment? Have they gained or lost something from attaining an EO? The book is called Vicious and some of the moments in this story definitely are. It is a story of loss and ultimately a story of revenge - will there will be a happy ending? Well, you will have to read it to find out.

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