“Life—the way it really is—is a battle not between Bad and Good, but between Bad and Worse.” – Joseph Brodsky
Since I was a kid, I have always loved superhero themes; my favorite movies back then were no doubt X-Men, Sky High, and The Spiderman, and I also took interest in watching Smallville. Even now I still like this theme such that one of my favorite book series are Gone by Michael Grant.
But Vicious was grand.
Driven by a thesis of wonder, college best friends Victor and Eli hypothesize the probabilities of EO’s or ExtraOrdinaries, but when experiments turn to madness, they only find their success as a result to vengeance. Hence the loss of friendship, the creation of betrayal, and the course for revenge.
Vicious was indeed vicious in all its intricate ways. What struck me the most was, first, the theme. It’s not an ordinary superhero type of novel, but it revolves most on morality, mortality, and villainy, giving us one main idea: humans are basically bad (click here to read my Lord of the Flies review for more). These themes cast the darkest a shade could get to the novel, along with, next, the writing style. By switching POV’s, time frames, events, and locations in just the right sequence with dark, vivid, and brilliant shades, Schwab was able to make the book feel more like a movie. Especially with the small length of chapters, Vicious was made fast-paced.
Aside from the above, I also want to point out how I loved Schwab’s characters and their abilities. I liked the idea of deriving powers from what victims of NDEs were thinking, and how Schwab gave life to her characters through their superpowers. Most were creative, some were even nearly “original”, and all seemed fitting for its themes. Furthermore, the selection of characters and their sides were excellent and unique, giving the book a fresh feeling. Personally, I liked Victor’s ability the most, given its use both for the healing for himself and the threat for others.
As much as I want to say I really loved this book and that it had no flaws, I’d still have to point out that the latter is not true since, despite how I was absorbed chapter by chapter, I still ended the book wanting more. At least an introduction of more unique abilities from more characters, and especially more suspense. Unfortunately, I was limited to the amount of presented abilities to what seemed like less than 10, and looking forward for an epic, heart-stoping, breath-taking, and jaw-locking showdown between the two sides at the last few pages, which I hadn’t acquired, I was fairly disappointed. Well, no, they limited themselves to knives and guns with a sprinkle of their abilities, so all the while the tension faded.
Other than that comedown, though, Vicious was more than worth it and definitely one of my favorites. A superhero theme with a twist, it’s just what I’d ask for.