The eternal battle between good and evil, and the complex meaning of both terms, is one of the main themes in Vicious by V. E. Schwab. Vicious has been called a comic-book-turned-novel, and it certainly felt like that at times. In this futuristic world, Victor Vale and Elliot Ever start off as friends, roommates, and rivals. Even ten years in the past, the two young men in college show signs of something wicked harboring inside them.
With switching timelines, the story goes back and forth between the two friends testing out Eli’s ExtraOrdinary thesis, and a decade later, with Victor as an escape prison inmate, powerful and thirsty for revenge.
What truly fascinated me are the concepts of right and wrong, hero and villain, good and evil. Our two main characters seem so twisted in their own way, and for once, we aren’t forced to pick a hero and a villain, because both parties are fucked up in one way or another. The so called hero, who thinks is doing the world a favor, is questionable from the start. There is no black and white in this story because this is not a black and white world.
Vicious plays with various themes that capture the essence of our world in this fictitious universe. The two main characters deal with their own doubts and morality until the last moment. Victor and Eli continue to grow, to melt, to divide into something surprising at every turn. But the marvelous side characters weren’t left behind. The sisters, Serena and Sydney, face their own personal struggles. It is heartbreaking and incredible at the same time. Mitch, Vic’s inmate friend, is quirky, funny, and satisfyingly human.
The writing was intelligent, although at times I felt it dragged. There was more “telling” than “showing,” but eventually, it did not get in the way of my enjoyment. The story and the characters are captivating enough.
Vicious was added to my favorites list, and I would definitely recommend it to lovers of superheroes and interesting villains.