Books You Should Read: Vicious by V. E. Schwab

Think the superhero is always the good guy? Read on for a rich, nail-biting, dark urban fantasy from the author of Unbound and This Savage Song.

The Basics: An ambitious college thesis experiment goes wrong, leaving a girl dead and former best friends Victor and Eli lifelong enemies. Ten years later, Victor is out of prison and Eli is hunting down EOs–people with ExtraOrdinary powers.

The Good: This is one of those books you’ll swallow whole. The chapters jump from ten years ago to two nights ago, gradually filling in the story. However, the real magic in this book lies in the characters–particularly its two leads, Victor and Eli. Victor, a nihilist with tendencies towards sociopathy, is hellbent on revenge, while Eli, a self-righteous vigilante killer, makes for a not-so perfect hero on a quest from God. Most character foils rely on character differences, but Vicious examines how these two are alike in their twisted ambition and ruthlessness. The setting, a fictional city called Merit, resembles a fascinating-but-just-slightly-wrong version of London.

The Meh: Some of the scenes of Victor and Eli purposefully killing themselves to bring themselves back to life in the name of science might raise a few eyebrows, or at worst trigger several readers. The plot does occasionally suffer from Contrived Coincidences, such as an instance where Victor and his allies are staying in the same hotel as their adversaries without realizing it.

The Take: I accidentally forgot to sleep while reading this book. I started it at 11pm and finished it at 6am because I kept. Turning. The page. Immediately after the last chapter, I was on Goodreads checking for a sequel. Vicious will appeal to anyone who watched Chronicle (and then wanted to see it again), anyone still mourning the potential Heroes had after season 1, and readers of urban fantasy and dark fantasy.

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