This is not the superhero book you’ve been expecting

Written by
V. E. Schwab in 2013

Superheroes can still be arseholes to each other. And not just the sort-of love triangle between Cyclops, Jean Grey and Wolverine. I mean more like Deadpool.


When you start to read a book and you ask yourself just what the hell is going on, because it’s creepy and a bit wrong, it usually pays to keep going. Because all is revealed. Vicious starts out a bit like that, because in the first chapter, the main character and his sidekick is digging up a dead person.

But it’s just a hook to get you in, you see. Vicious is, surprisingly, a book about superheroes and supervillains. However, these people didn’t get their superpowers from mutations, fancy armoured suits or radioactive arachnids. These people are granted superpowers by being resurrected.

Eli and Victor are two sociopaths that have managed to fall into each other’s orbits at college. In their final year, they decide to investigate whether EOs (or ExtraOrdinaries) are real, and if so, how they’re created. This ends with the both of them gaining superpowers after they have their own respective near death experiences.

While Victor awakens with an understanding that he’s mostly the same, though something’s missing, Eli thinks that every EO other than himself is a monster, and makes it his life’s work to start killing them all. His first victim? Victor. Though Victor survives, he’s put in gaol, and that’s when his plan for revenge begins to coalesce.

Vicious is quite a short book, and it dispenses with a lot of unnecessary world building and flowery descriptions. That’s a good thing, because without all that stuff, the story is more intense, as it focuses on the characters, their motivations and actions. In fact, it’s more entertaining because of it.

The entire storyline is pretty simple, really. Establish motivation for revenge. Exact revenge. ??? Profit. Of course, to set up a lot of the background, the book does jump around in time, between the “present” and when it all began ten years ago. If you’re not into time travel narration, then I suppose you could get extremely frustrated at it. If, however, you can stick it out, the second half of the book is far more action packed and exciting.

Vicious is the type of book that demonstrates with great effectiveness that sometimes, more is less. Most of the time, people aren’t looking for an epic, thousand page marathon that describes everything in minute detail. In fact, it’s a book that forces the reader to use something called an “imagination”, and that’s something precious.


Enjoyable superhero book that’s kind of reminiscent of the movie Chronicle.

Read this if you…

Enjoy superhero books.

Skip this if you…

Want an epic, thousand page read.


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