Vicious (Villans #1) by V.E. Schwab
Published: September 24, 2013
Genre: Fantasy, Adult, Science Fiction, Paranormal
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?
1) dangerously aggressive, marked by violence or ferocity
2) worsened by internal causes that reciprocally augment each other
3) having the nature or quality of vice or immorality
“Victor was out. Victor was free. And Victor was coming for Eli – just as he’d promised he would.”
Is there anything this woman can’t write? Books dealing with science or paranormal like undertones don’t interest me but if Victoria’s name is slapped on the cover OBVIOUSLY I will give my favorite author a shot. And shocker I fell in love with this book. The story takes place between the present and the past (10 years ago) but it is extremely simple to follow and literally kept me turning the page to find out what happened. This tale is about the pain dealing Victor Vale, an escaped convict, who is on a road to deal out revenge to an old friend now foe Eli. Victor and Eli were bright, ambitious, and far too clever & cunning college roommates who planned to not only discover if EOs (Extra-Ordinaries) exist but make one. But as all great schemes go things take a left turn for the inseparable best friends and their lives are changed forever.
“He stopped humming, rested his shoe lightly on a tombstone, and scanned the dark. Not with his eyes so much as with his skin, or rather with the thing that crept beneath it, tangled in his pulse.”
This isn’t a story about good vs evil (all though the character Eli might disagree) it’s a story about evil vs more evil. Each character has a dark twisted mind even though some hide it better than others. I think the line from the song Bell’s of Notre Dame is quite fitting to this story “What makes a monster? and what makes a man?”. It has so many complex ideas of what makes a superhero and villain and if one man’s good is another’s evil. I love it because the story isn’t black and white and it’s not easy to tell which is which because even Victor questions the roles.
“The paper called Eli a hero. The word made Victor laugh. Not just because it was absurd, but because it posed a question. If Eli really was a hero, and Victor meant to stop him, did that make him a villain.?”
“One night’s worth of work for a lifetime without pain. What are you willing to do?”
Victor Vale is one of the most multiplex characters I ever read and one of my favorite male characters. I love that he never hid the darkness that he had lurking in his shadows. His jealousy, ambition, anger, evilness, etc were all transparent. It’s so refreshing to see a “non-normal” human in a story not question what they are or apologize for it. He was unapologetically him; flaws and all. No masks and no hiding the vengeance burning inside of him.
“…but Eli didn’t feel like there was any evil in himself. If anything, he felt hands, strong and steady, guiding him when he pulled the trigger, when he snapped Lyne’s neck, when he didn’t run from Stell.”
Eli Oh Eli, where do I begin? I have never read a more relatable character before. As humans, we sin and screw up every day. But, do we want to believe that? Of course not. Eli represents society and all of us with our arrogant minds thinking even the wrong we do is God sent or for a purpose. I loved his character because he was so real and true.
“Dominic buckled…He cried out, and at the same time, Sydney clutched her arm, and Mitch rubbed at his bruised ribs.”
The secondary characters like Sydney, Mitch, Serena, and Dominic all felt important. None of them were throwaways or felt like they were just there for decoration. They had a specific purpose. The relationship between Victor, Sydney, Mitch, and Dominic felt real and transparent like Vic’s personality. On the other hand, Eli and Serena were built on their shared glamor, guilt, and animosity towards who and what they were.
All of them deal with their moral struggles of what they are but some accept and embrace it while others are consumed by it.
2) The Story
I’ve never read a story like this it was so engulfing and fast paced. As I stated earlier I don’t read science fiction much but the idea reminded me so much of X-Men I wanted to give it a try. I am so happy I did because this is one of my favorite books now. The dynamic relationship between Victor and Eli and how they interact with each other and other people was particularly interesting because it got me thinking about the story’s bad vs worse concept. I felt like Eli was the true villain because his story was more so sociopathic because what he was doing was wrong but he had no feeling of that. He really thought his self-righteous walk was God ordained. Victor, on the other hand, was bad but he didn’t hide it he let it all out in the open and didn’t hide behind some ruse he told himself like Eli.
“All Eli had to do was smile. All Victor had to do was lie. Both proved frighteningly effective.”
This particular line speaks volumes and has extreme foreshadowing to how the story unfolds in my opinion. Eli hides behind a mask, a glamor, or glaze of what he wants and needs people to see. Victor didn’t hide he used words and action to get what he wants and needs. Both effective BUT an act only works on an audience.
3) The flow of the timeline
I really like how she takes the story from past to present in part one because we learn all about the bad blood between Victor and Eli and their intense friendship. Then we learn about Vic’s present day plans, the bond with Sydney & Mitch, and leading up to part two. Part two is all basically in one day which is the revenge plan coming together. With this timeline, it kept me so intrigued because I would finish a chapter about their college days and the next is to the present day. So, I would race through that chapter just so I could find out what happened next in the past but, now I want to know what happens next in the present. It was a vicious cycle (no pun intended) and I devoured the book in two or three days because I just needed to know everything and couldn’t wait.
I say this with every book she puts out but Victoria truly has a knack for storytelling. Vicious was a unique blend of vengeance and morality. The characters felt real and complex. I am so excited to see where book two, Vengeful, takes us.