Vicious by Victoria Schwab - Superheroes with a dark and wonderful twist!

VIcious - V.E. Schwab

Vicious by Victoria Schwab turns the superhero story on it’s head with near death experiences being necessary to develop superpowers, and those superpowers being determined by your last thoughts as you are dying. Not to mention that our protagonist seems to be evil and the villain at first glance appears to be the hero. I love gray characters :D.

Note: I received Vicious from the fantabulous Pabkins!


Vicious by Victoria Schwab 
Published by Tor Books on September 24th, 2013
Genres: AdultSci-fi 
Length: 368 pages
How I got my copy: Purchased
IndieBound - Book Depository - Goodreads
Purchases made support this blog 

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? 



  • Right from the beginning of Vicious, we are forced to question who is the good guy and who the villain. All of the characters we are presented with have a darkness to them, so it really boils down to gray: there is no good guy and I love it!
  • I love love love the way Vicious handles superpowers and their acquisition. I was so intrigued as Victor started to uncover how an ExtraOrdinary person came to exist and the connection between last thoughts and powers was beautifully subtle and fresh.
  • All of Vicious consists of a number of timelines from ten years ago to two days ago to this morning. Those are the actual titles of the each of the timelines that we get at the beginning of chapters. I love this technique for identifying timelines since it gives such an eerie feeling of “This is happening right now and you don’t even know it!”
  • Science fiction stories are always hard-pressed to impress me since I study science for a living. However, Vicious succeeded in using just enough actual science to justify the superpower acquisition process that I was quite happy to suspend my disbelief about the rest. Quite refreshing to find!
  • It was so freaking fun finding out what every ExtraOrdinary’s superpower was and how that power reflected their personality and last thoughts. While some of the powers were your typical healing, etc, figuring out what thought elicited said power was so exciting.


  •  There were several moments in Vicious where I was hoping for some cool twist and ended up with a quite predictable plot progression. I think some of this disappointment stems from the uber-hype that I ran into before starting Vicious, so you’ve been warned!
  • I had a bit of trouble keeping the timelines straight, especially as they started getting closer together and involving the same characters. You’ll not want to put Vicious down for too long.
  • I can’t explain this weakness all that well without a minor spoiler, but remember how we talked about all those bookish pet peeves? There is something in Vicious that was on A LOT of lists, but it isn’t too bad >.>.


Vicious astounded me with how fresh and original it was able to make the superhero tropes. Throw in a whole bunch of dark and grey characters and I’m in love ;-). While I kind of wish there was a sequel scheduled, I also feel like Vicious was just the right amount of story for me. It’s so easy with superhero worlds to keep making more and more powers, but then things start to get formulaic. Vicious had just the right number of ExtraOrdinary characters to showcase clever powers without getting cliche. Basically, Vicious lives up to the hype, but it’s strengths lie in creative ideas, not so much uber crazy plot twists ;-). But can someone explain the cover and title to me now?


4 Stars