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June 15, 2015



By: V.E. Schwab

In her first transition from young adult to adult fiction, V. E. (Victoria) Schwab has written a dark superhero tale, aptly named Vicious. Schwab takes us back and forth in time, gradually revealing how two ambitious pre-med students discovered a way to give themselves superpowers, subsequently became sworn enemies, and are now 10 years later on the fast track to kill one another once and for all. If you like a book with twisted characters in shades of gray and intricate ethical situations, with plotting that pushes towards a climactic end, then this is the story for you. Schwab certainly fulfilled her intent (as revealed in interviews) to challenge our collective notion that gaining superpowers might automatically make someone start doing good deeds. Instead, our two protagonists are both highly self-serving and flawed, even more so than when they were merely human.

As the next book in our Fiction Fans outdoor summer book club (7pm July 2 in the Fishers Amphitheatre), I am looking forward to the varied topics of discussion Vicious is sure to bring up. There are more questions raised than answered, and I frequently found it hard to believe that each and every character could really be so messed-up, sadistic, or even downright evil. The question is not so much what it takes to become a hero but rather, how easy it is to become a villain. Yet, just as every hero has a story, certainly every villain and every person in between the two extremes has one too. Schwab reveals just enough backstory and motives of both main and secondary characters to keep you turning the pages, and though I wondered at first if the frequent time changes would be confusing, I found the flashbacks added rather than detracted from the story.

Schwab writes with effortless style and dialogue, and the scenes unfold like a well-paced movie, making you itch to get to the end. Perhaps that it why Ridley Scott has plans to bring Vicious to the big screen. Until then, Schwab has hopes to write a sequel she has outlined, and after the conclusion, I was certainly left wondering whether any redemption might come next for this motley crew of characters.

Review By: Alison Orpurt