“Plenty of humans were monstrous, and plenty of monsters knew how to play at being human.” – V. E. Schwab, Vicious
Say hello to Vicious by V. E. Schwab, the very best and most thrilling book that I have read in a long time. Vicious is a glorious science-fiction/action/thriller novel with absolutely no dull moments, and a new surprise in every chapter. Dive in with me as I dissect this gripping story.
Vicious begins by painting a picture of Victor Vale, an angsty, morbidly curious med student and his best friend and roommate, Eli Cardale. Victor’s life seems quite routine and well-balanced when we first meet him. He consistently attends classes at his prestigious university, pouts over not having Eli’s girlfriend as his own, and engages in the strange habit of defacing his parents’ acclaimed self-help books to create pessimistic blackout poetry. An extremely unique selection of activities, but routine nonetheless. Victor slowly gains suspicion that Eli is not the good-mannered student that he appears to be. He wants to crack Eli to see what is underneath the shiny surface, and this becomes easier when Eli decides to write his thesis on “EO’s” (stands for ExtraOrdinaries, which means superheroes, essentially). It’s not only Eli that undergoes a surprising change of character, Victor suddenly abandons his routine life, his cynicism and skepticism. He believes in Eli’s theory about EO’s; that under the right circumstances, anyone could transform from an ordinary human being into a fantastic, reborn EO with powers all their own. And what’s more, that the very ordinary human beings Eli Cardale and Victor Vale could transform themselves.
The two model students take a dangerous nosedive into the unknown. They suddenly find themselves detached from society, cooly lurking under the surface of evil. They grow apart and each pursue different paths. Victor meets Mitch, a tattooed hulk of a man with the sharpest mind around, and Sydney, a teenager who is forced to grow up too fast. Just when things seem to be improving slightly, Victor’s got his new crew, Eli is long gone and can’t bother him… Victor runs into him again. This reunion sends the plot into a whirlwind of violence, excitement and fear. The once innocent Eli Cardale and Victor Vale are found questioning the validity of their own lives, and they take a fascinating journey together which has even the reader of their terrific tale wondering what it is exactly that makes people good at heart.
I cannot rave about this book enough, because WOW. Its protagonist is so problematic and conflicted that you bounce back and forth between loving and hating him. The mood of the whole story is very straightforward, it’s cunning and evil and angst-filled and I love it. Imagine a soulless, sneaky, violent protagonist trying to save the world. That’s what Vicious has to offer. V. E. Schwab takes all the stereotypes of superheroes and super-villains and science-fiction and throws them out the window in this novel. It’s unlike anything I’ve read before, and I meant it when I said it doesn’t get boring. I’ve never liked science-fiction all that much, admittedly, except maybe The Maze Runner and The 5th Wave, so I nearly skipped Vicious. Thank the book Gods I didn’t. Vicious is a masterpiece, it’s so completely wonderful. I couldn’t recommend it more if I tried.
Now. If you read my last post, you might remember that I said it’s incredibly hard for a book to become one of my favourites. Ok, yes, I’m a dirty liar. I’m about as reliable as Victor Vale is. But I got lucky, I suppose, with this treasure. Every single character (and I mean every one) gets extraordinarily described, and they all get their own thorough development. It’s stellar, V. E. Schwab’s attention and effort really shines through.
Thank you so much for reading. I hope with all my heart that this novel gets the recognition it deserves. And as a final thought, this story would make THE BEST movie, if it stayed true to the author’s vision… Somebody get on that, ok? Thanks.