I don’t know why it took me so long to get round to reading Vicious; I think it’s my favourite of Schwab’s books so far. I started with A Darker Shade of Magic, I think, which was very much hyped. With Vicious, I had heard some hype about it, but it’s been out a while, so I didn’t really feel a pressure to like it, and maybe that helped. Also, it’s a superhero novel — sort of. Maybe supervillains. But maybe it’s best to say it’s morally dubious superpeople, each of whom may have a point but none of whom are really doing the right thing, in a world where it’s difficult in the extreme to figure out the right thing.
Normally the multiple timelines in this story would annoy me, but it worked in Vicious, giving us glimpses of the past to fill in the story, while giving us bits of the ‘present’ to tantalise. Schwab handled it with assurance, and I was content to trust her that the things she was showing me were necessary for the story — it didn’t feel like an overfond author giving us unnecessary background. In fact, the narration feels very clean: every word necessary, every chapter honed to a sharp point.
The characters… well, you can’t quite like them, but I was intrigued by them. By their sharp edges and their inconsistencies, their beliefs. Both Vincent and Eli had reasons for their actions, and you can see exactly the point where they diverge — with the background story slowly being filled in, you actually get to see the difference it turns on, and catch it sneaking up on them. I found Sydney’s changes toward the end fascinating, and I think there’s a seed there for a potentially very interesting story about her and Victor, too. I wonder if that’s what the sequel will be about… either way, I’m very much looking forward to that.