Review: Vicious / Author: V.E. Schwab / Publisher: Titan / Release Date: Out Now
Vicious begins in Gothic mode, with the hero Victor and his young female companion digging up a grave. But why? The reader is then thrown back ten years to Lockland University in which Victor is introduced to his intellectual equal Eli. Their obsession with the fantastical elements of human nature and their brilliance leads them to begin with the experimental phase of their research... with dire consequences for Victor. We then follow Victor’s journey to catch up with Eli, who has prospered in the face of his disastrous joint venture at Lockland with Victor, and deliver payback to Eli once and for all.
The antagonism between Victor and Eli has echoes of classic rivalries such as Sherlock Holmes and James Moriarty, Batman and the Joker, nemeses who not only match one another in intellect but also in strength. This makes their moves like those in a chess game, they advance slowly towards one another but with such intent that you beg to know what happens next. Meanwhile, Vicious also blends together successfully the real and the hyper-real. Just as in popular series such as Heroes, you see characters dealing with their supernatural abilities in real life circumstances.
However, Vicious invests so much in Victor and Eli that you pay little attention to the other characters in the book. This is a great shame because some of the female supporting characters in particular could have done with more development. In addition, the narrative flips a tad too much to the point that the reader can lose track of where they are.
Overall though, Vicious explores two wonderful characters who take the classic hero-villain roles to very blurred heights.