I can’t believe how long it took me to read this book! Prior to picking this up I’d heard nothing but good things, and after meeting V at her recent event in Liverpool and getting the book signed, I just had to delve in. Keep reading for my spoiler free review of Vicious!
“Victor and Eli started out as college roommates—brilliant, arrogant, lonely boys who recognized the same sharpness and ambition in each other. In their senior year, a shared research interest in adrenaline, near-death experiences, and seemingly supernatural events reveals an intriguing possibility: that under the right conditions, someone could develop extraordinary abilities. But when their thesis moves from the academic to the experimental, things go horribly wrong.
Ten years later, Victor breaks out of prison, determined to catch up to his old friend (now foe), aided by a young girl whose reserved nature obscures a stunning ability. Meanwhile, Eli is on a mission to eradicate every other super-powered person that he can find—aside from his sidekick, an enigmatic woman with an unbreakable will. Armed with terrible power on both sides, driven by the memory of betrayal and loss, the archnemeses have set a course for revenge—but who will be left alive at the end?”
I was pretty much sold on this duology when I heard the word ‘X-Men’ mentioned. Split into alternating timelines with the story told through multiple perspectives, ten years is covered by Vicious as we explore the pair’s beginning and how their small project grows into something much bigger.
While we did go back and forth with several timelines, it wasn’t confusing nor was it too much – it was perfect for this story. It was interesting to see how the characters had developed over the decade and to try and guess at what had happened to them.
The limited use of characters and settings in Vicious made for a very intense and concentrated read. I feel like any more would have made the story too convoluted and I really enjoyed this change to typical fantasy fiction. While Eli and Victor are both morally grey and questionable characters who have committed atrocious acts in their past, I couldn’t have felt different about the two.
From the beginning I just never warmed to Eli, finding him extreme and self absorbed, whilst Victor made for a much more dynamic character whom I found myself rooting for. Funny though as he definitely was not a good guy either! However, while Eli treated people as strictly stepping stones to his success, I came to realise that while Victor does the same to an extent, he does ultimately care about them.
This leads me to one of my favourite aspects of this story – the relationship between Victor, Sydney and Mitch. It was complex and at times strained but throughout the story the ties between them deepened and they became a sort of family. Dysfunctional, but a family nonetheless – with a dog!
I found the plot to be unpredictable in the best way. The story could have taken any turn and that kept me hooked throughout. Despite dealing with some pretty gruesome and heavy violence, the story never felt this way. It was interesting how the story was told as though these things are everyday occurrences. Though, as these scenes were told from mostly Eli and Victor’s perspective who see the acts as necessary I guess that’s why they seem so normal!
A fresh take on the classic good vs. evil tale, Vicious was an epic story of the fight for ultimate power where no one character is reliable. An intriguing read for fans of ‘heroes’ and villains with superpowers, Vicious was 4/5 stars for me!
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