Vicious — V.E. Schwab

Vicious grabbed me from the first page and spat me out, broken and twitching, on the last. It felt like a roller coaster without a safety bar. It’s clever writing had me flying through the pages, and the characters, while not all entirely likeable, were still fantastic, layered characters that kept the book going.

The two main characters are so morally gray, they suck the color from everything around them. It is a story that focuses on their revenge, but over time, the reader wonders who to side with. Sometimes, I sided with both. Sometimes, I sided with neither. Sometimes, I sided with Mitch, who wasn’t even involved in the central conflict, lol

That said, Vicious has the most conflicted protagonists I have read in a long time. I love that the author does not push a character’s goodness (or evil) onto the reader. Both Victor and Eli have their own reasons for doing what they do, and it’s up to the reader to decide what to make of it. It felt real, refreshing, and human, despite being a book about potential superpowers.

I suppose what made the book so real to me was how, despite their monstrous deeds, Victor and Eli were understandable. Understandable in a way that maybe, if I were pushed by their circumstances, I wouldn’t act too differently. They were monsters, but in a way I could imagine myself becoming in their shoes. Isn’t that terrifying?

I would absolutely recommend this book, but it does have dark themes (CW: self-harm, death). It flew by for me, especially because of its bite-sized chapters, and stayed with me long after.

A few key words to help you decide: multiple POV, superpowers, dark fantasy, revenge, contemporary setting, university setting, morally gray protagonists, dark humor, series

P.S. I read the paperback edition by Titan Books, which deserves praise, because it’s quite hard to bend the spine and cover. I finished reading without being particularly careful, and my copy still looks new.

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