Vicious (Villians #1) by V.E. Schwab

I know I am super late to the party on this book, but after all the hype surrounding the release of V.E. Schwab’s Vengeful last fall, I knew it was time to get on board and find out what all the delicious fuss was about. And, of course, the fuss was definitely on point, as usual, when it came to Book One in this series: Vicious.

Being in my forties, one of my favorite movies as a kid was Flatliners, starring Keifer Sutherland and Julia Roberts. Med students messing around with the fine line between life and death, only to discover toeing that line is far more dangerous than death itself, that movie haunted me for years. So, when I started reading Vicious only to discover two med students, Eli Cardale and Victor Vale, toying with the line between life and death because they’ve surmised that death creates ExtraOrdinary people with unique superpowers, I was immediately drawn into the plot.

As Eli and Victor begin experimenting with death in hopes of becoming ExtraOrdinary themselves, the results are as devastating a they are promising. Victor’s first attempt fails, making him look suicidal, but Eli learns from this mistake, vowing to perfect his death and revival in the most meticulous manner. As success looms on the horizon, Eli’s newfound powers to self-heal drive a wedge between the friends. He’s seen the light, in a sense, and he now believes they made a mistake. It’s unnatural, and he doesn’t want Victor to go through with his next attempt, but Victor has other plans. Going behind Eli’s back, Victor devises a plan involving electricity and Eli’s girlfriend, Angie. You can imagine how that wound up… And if you can’t, let’s just say Angie’s sort of dead, thanks to Victor’s foray into second-life, and Eli’s lust for vengeance has only begun to smolder.

And that’s just the beginning, readers. There is so much to this book, exploring a decade of brooding vengeance and a variety of ExtraOrdinary powers, the nature of their existence and the circumstances that brought them into fruition… And the things these two men are willing to do in their effort to extinguish one another is unbelievably dark. Ten years spans this epic revenge plot, and Schwab did an amazing job weaving it all together as she jumped back and forth between timelines effortlessly. 

I finished this book just before the holidays, and felt my jaw drop as I realized I’d have to wait until after the holidays to get back to the library and sink my claws into Vengeful in order to find out what happened next. 

And the thing is, as much as I love a good hero, I’ve felt myself getting a little burnt out on all the superhero media over the last few years, and in truth that is probably why I didn’t pick this book up over the course of the last few years, but the thing is… This isn’t a superhero book. It’s about villains and their motivations, that self-righteous longing to do what they feel to be the right thing and their inability to step outside that path and take a long, hard look at their motivations in order to see the flaw in their plan.

I’m pretty sure just about everyone on the planet has already read this book, but if you’re like me–one of the few who hadn’t for one reason or another–I definitely recommend you give it a shot. 

Five out of five stars, and I can’t wait to read Vengeful!

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