I received an early copy of this book either because I have some supernaturally hypnotic powers of which I am unaware, or because awesome books are one of the glamorous insider perks of being a writer’s girlfriend. Either way, I was ecstatic to read what had been (accurately) described to me as “The Prestige meets The Avengers.”
Vicious features the finest evil sciencebros in all the land, the keenest little girl sidekick since Penny, and a twisty, darkly animated plot. The story is told through alternating points in time and points of view, but Schwab paints the visuals and nails the characters with the perfect amount of detail, so we’re never left confused by these jumps.
I don’t read many comics and this may be the first novel I’ve read in the–well, are we calling “superhero” a subgenre yet? I found myself visualizing the scenes played out in the typical college and sleek downtown hotel settings of Merit as comic book pages. The dialogue is full of grand pronouncements and villainy while the characters battle and betray each other with knives, guns, and (best of all) cruel insights.
The story has a lot of emotional intimacy, but that doesn’t mean there’s romance. Early on, one of the first sparks that sends the main characters into their self-obsessed descents into madness is the girl who comes between them. However, we quickly see that their possessiveness and bad relationships with their own true natures bar them from sensuality or true passion, and there’s a cautionary aspect to that. Love is really just another weapon, along with friendship and fear. Musings on loyalty and the powerful effects of trauma lend profundity, elevating the whole above the level of entertaining romp; not that being merely that would have been a bad thing, but it is nice to have things to think about when the last page is turned.
Do the ability to make a creepy, pesky kid feel safe and a quirky hatred of absentee parents make up for more than a decade of being a bad man? If you’re saving humanity with superpowers and God is on your side, does that make you a holy tool? Most importantly, how many heroic tropes does a writer need to stab full of holes and then raise from the dead before we go forth and proclaim the work a brilliantly dialectical piece?
Vicious is out September 24. That’s a Tuesday, so if you do yourself the favor of purchasing it, you can stay up all night and finish it before you go to the comic shop for your pulls.
Here are a bunch of links that I had trouble slyly working into this post:
An excerpt on tor.com!
Warm Up, an endearing related short story on tor.com!
Holy shit, the author has made really cool trading cards and I just drooled a little on my favorite shirt.
And what the hell, why not a B&N link, too?