I picked up Vicious because it was by V.E. Schwab. She has quickly become one of my favorite authors this year and I am working on getting through all her books. I have heard this one is one that is recommended for those who want to start reading her books. I didn’t know much about the story, other than it was a revenge plot. But I have been impressed by her other books, and the depth she brings to her characters, and this one did not disappoint me.
The story itself is pretty basic. Victor and Eli are college friends. They are working on their thesis’s and Eli decides to do his on EO’s or ExtraOrdinarys. ExtraOrdinarys are basically people who have super powers. The thesis becomes an experiment. The experiment goes wrong and Victor ends up in jail. After ten years he gets out and he is set on revenge against a man he used to call a friend.
If this story did not have strong characters I would have lost interest fast. The plot is not one full of twists or turns. There is nothing too innovative about the plot itself. The addition of the super powers makes it a bit more interesting but nothing too new. Victor blames Eli for what happened and Eli blames Victor. At the end of the day it is a story about simple revenge.
What makes it more complex and what held my attention was Victor and Eli. These two are complicated people. To start off they aren’t two people who are real close friends. They are tolerate friends in the beginning. They find a kinship in each other. Both of them are selfish. They both don’t trust others and they both don’t trust each other.
We learn quickly that while they get along they still hold each other at arms length. Victor resents Eli for getting a girl they both liked. Eli starts to resent that Victor became part of his experiment. They both state that they can tell there is something not quite right about the other one. They can see in each other the darkness that is in their hearts, but it doesn’t make them run.
Neither one of these men are “good” people. They both make some pretty bad decisions and they both hurt people. I think this is what made the story. I knew that because we primarily focused on Victor that we are supposed to be on his side. He is our primary narrator so we should want him to win, we should understand him. The thing was that even though I understood him, I didn’t actually like him.
Victor has a soft side, which is needed because otherwise there is no way we could relate or want to listen to him. But that soft side doesn’t last long. He makes one good decision and then runs backwards ten feet. The man is set on his plan and in the end people will get hurt, he can’t stop that. He cares about Sydney and Mitch (his sidekicks) but he doesn’t care enough to turn away from what he wants.
Eli thinks he is doing what is right. I understood where Eli was coming from but I couldn’t sympathize with him. He comes off as delusional most of the story. I found it interesting that I didn’t hate him. Usually in these type of stories you take sides. You choose either the hero or the villain, usually the hero. But in this story there was no side to take.
Both men made choices to help themselves and only themselves. Both of them hated each other for a series of events that really both of them could be blamed for. I didn’t want Victor to “win” or for Eli to “lose.” I wanted them to find a way to see the darkness inside themselves and realize that what they were doing would do nothing for anyone, even themselves.
The end of the book was a bit of a let down. I expected a major confrontation between the two men. I expected them to go at each other, or to have a long talk; one that laid everything out and put who they were out there in the open for everyone to see. The book led up to that point and it took a handful of pages to complete. I predicted it from half way through the book. I wanted more from the ending. I wanted it to end with a bang and what I got was more a whimper.
I enjoyed this book. It is not my favorite by V.E. Schwab (that is still This Savage Song). I liked the characters and that neither were good people. I liked not knowing who I was supposed to like. I liked the way it was told by flipping between past and present, it made the story feel like it was always moving. I just wish the end had had more of an impact.