Book review: Vicious (Villains, #1) by V.E. Schwab


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?

RATING: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

I really wish I had a megaphone so I could accurately get across just how much I fucking love this book.

True love is what you felt for that book you read twice in a span of 6 months. Never doubt my ability to read Vicious ten thousand times and remain just as interested and entertained every single time!!

This is literally the best anti-hero story that I have ever read and now I have to readjust every other expectation in my life to match it. I have so much of this book in my heart even my body feels too heavy to carry it!! Honestly how is there so much in Schwab’s mind?? all I want is to climb inside and revel at all the brilliance. She didn’t even have to go SO hard on this book but she did That……she did that for all of us.

“There are no good men in this game.”

Vicious is a cautionary tale about how everything would be better if college theses were cancelled. If not, then a couple of rich entitled grad students would get the idea of gaining a superpower that correlates to the type of near-death experience, coming close to a revolutionary thesis about EOs but opening the seventh seal of the apocalypse instead.

“All Eli had to do was smile. All Victor had to do was lie. Both proved frighteningly effective.”

Victor Vale is driven by a singular determination to see his best friend Eli to his demise after he’s helped put Victor in prison, which was beyond reproach since Victor did, albeit accidentally, kill Eli’s girlfriend and people do tend to go to prison for that. Victor, however, refuses to accept the pointlessness of revenge and every breath he’s taken during his ten years in prison was done with the memory of how it would feel to deck Eli Ever right in his smug bastard face.

And by some messed up cosmic sense of karmic justice, three days after his prison break out, Victor Vale manages to excerce a broad persuasion on a motley crew to assist him in destroying Eli: Mitch, a tattooed, built-like-an-18-wheeler escaped convict with terrible luck and who happens to be incredibly skilled at hacking and loves chocolate milk; Sydney, a 12 years old precious child with necromancy powers and whom Victor had picked up on the side of the road and immediately adopted; a zombie dog and drunk uncle™ Dominic, an alcoholic teleporter with chronic pain.

Eli Ever is what Jane Austen would have referred to in 1817 as ‘never done anything to entitle himself to more than the abbreviation of his name‘ had he been named Richard. Eli is suffering from a severe case of god complexe and is convinced of his own absolute superiority. We’re talking “a deluded social justice warrior with a Steve Rogers obsession” kind of f*cked up here. But in all fairness, if I’d spent a shit ton of time on a thesis that didn’t turn out exactly how I wanted, I too would let the situation go completely out of control, resulting in a body count and vengeance arc.

With all seriousness though, Vicious has the most original take on superpowers that I have ever encountered. It’s taken every hero/villain trope that’s so widespread in the genre by the throat and smashed it across the wall. It’s utterly unpredictable, like watching the first domino fall but not knowing which pattern it would produce.

And not only is it amazingly written and expertly structured, but THE CHARACTERS. No one writes anti-heroes like Schwab. Every single one of the characters has their own backstory and morality and motivations and what I loved the most is how even when there’s a sense of profound alienation in them, how you won’t necessarily assimilate with them or feel like you look like them or relate to them; there’s always the possibility to locate similarities to make them feel less distant.

This book just has so much room in it for the unimaginable and it’s absolutely brilliant!


“The paper called Eli a hero. The word made Victor laugh. Not just because it was absurd, but because it posed a question. If Eli really was a hero, and Victor meant to stop him, did that make him a villain?”

[finds the most morally questionable asshole in a book] I would dip my love in 24k gold before it’s offered to you. I love you.

I swear my life is just one unattainable sort of morally mediocre dark-haired fictional character after another. No really. If the character in a book wears all black and is seemingly selfish and only in it for themselves UNTIL they’re dragged kicking & screaming into caring about certain people, then congratulations my good sir I am now yours!!

I know you’re never supposed to humanize characters that evidently are not human in every non-physical way but you really can’t deny what a dad friend Victor Vale is: 1) he’s always trying to take care of the people who are closest to him but is too distant and emotionally clumsy to be any good at it. 2) ‘I’m cold.’ ‘I’m Victor’ which is the pinnacle of dad humor. 3) when sydney was told to go somewhere safe, she didn’t even hesitate before going to look for Victor because ‘safe had become Victor‘. 4) this is the man who tortured a cop for hours right before taking Sydney out for hot chocolate. I mean??

The important question here is: is it too late to wrap myself up like a baby and drop myself off on Victor’s doorstep??

Can we also admit that Victor Vale really is just a delicate orchid?? Attention is his sunshine. Validation is his water. Drama is his dirt. Because truth is, he’s literally only ever wanted Eli’s attention. I’m not saying he needs validation to live, I’m just saying that when his heart was flatlining, had Eli just started telling me how great he was instead of trying to revive him, his ass would be conscious within five seconds!!!! (case in point:)

“Hate was too simple a word. He and Eli were bonded, by blood and death and science. They were alike, more so now than ever. And he had missed Eli. He wanted to see him. And he wanted to see him suffer. He wanted to see the look in Eli’s eyes when he lit them up with pain. He wanted his attention.”

Anyway, have I mentioned recently how much I absolutely love Victor Vale?? I feel like I haven’t been clear enough about that lately but I’d like to remind everyone that he really is the love of my life!!


“I want to believe that there’s more. That we could be more. Hell, we could be heroes”

So theortically speaking, I’m a HUGE fan of villains who 100% believe in their cause, who genuinely think what they’re doing is the absolute right thing, who would show utter agony at the barest prospect of their plans being hindered, who are so desperate to win because in their guts, they believe their work is going to save everyone. The villains with hero complexes and who would NEVER even think of themselves as villains.

Well, in reality, I’m not invested in anything except the downfall of this son of a bitch. Victor Vale might also be a villain and a piece of shit but he genuinely would never shoot a child AND a dog and he should wear that as a mark of pride.

Oh and Eli, sweetie, sorry to break this to you but as Copernicus basically stated “The Earth revolves around the sun”, NOT you. There are over 7 billion people on this planet. There’s probably a million assholes just like you but I just hope they’re having a better time!!


“MITCHELL Turner was cursed. Always had been. Trouble followed him like a shadow, clinging to him no matter how much good light he tried to stand in. In his hands, good things broke and bad things grew.”

I relate to Mitch because I too would risk everything and put myself in actual mortal danger to defend Victor & Sydney.

Mitch is so iconic. This good dude has a severe case of ‘wrong place, wrong time’ and always ends up in jail for crimes he did not commit. so one day, he was just FED UP!! what does he do? he literally goes, ‘might as well commit a REAL crime, sport!! how about a bank job? karma wanna mess with me? joke’s on her! I’ve already given up on life! this is just another step further into my grave haha hahaha’

Seriously though, Mitch is a bloody good person with a big heart and he deserves a lot more than the shitty hand that life has dealt him this far!!!


“Serena Clarke spent half her time wishing she were dead, and the other half telling everyone around her what to do, and wishing someone wouldn’t do it.”

One of the best female villains ever. She’s a storm of a woman. Wild, unbridled, a force of nature. And I love her! She’s the kind of woman you would be married to for two years, she’s in a silk robe and curlers throwing your most prized possessions off the balcony of your mansion overlooking the sea. You look at her, a shell of a man, and know that she has stolen your money, your youth, and your passion for life. AND I SUPPORT HER. She deserves to be bathed in milk like cleopatra and be encased in soft pearl!!

So basically the moral of this story is this: if you haven’t read this book yet…dude, DO IT!!

11 thoughts on “Book review: Vicious (Villains, #1) by V.E. Schwab”

  1. Okay, but this is definitely the best review I have ever read and I kind of want to frame it and put it on my wall. 💕
    Seriously, though. Victor Vale is the love of my life and I’m so glad to hear that you feel the same way!
    I also really want to just push Eli in front of a car, but we all know he wouldn’t die, so what’s the use? 😪😪

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Omg you’re absolutely welcome ♥️
        Sameee, I’d do pretty much everything for Victor Vale. I can’t believe we’re gonna get a second book next year 😍

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Whaaaaat omg no I didn’t know but that is so cool!!!!! Victoria Schwab, though, honestly — she’s the best and I love her, can we give her all the awards? 😍

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Great review, Em! I simply love the ‘moral greyness’ of this book. I think this is probably my favourite by her, simply for constructing a story in which the lines between heroes, anti-heroes, and villains blur. So happy you enjoyed this!

    Liked by 1 person

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