‘Viscious’ and ‘Vengeful’s Stark Take on Societal Norms

Photo Credit / Amazon Victoria Schwab's two books explore the depths of the toxic beliefs within society downtrodden women and men.

Kelsey Walter

Copy Editor

In 2013, author Victoria “V.E.” Schwab released her first adult science fiction novel “Vicious”. More than four years later, the sequel “Vengeful” took everyone by surprise when it hit the shelves in 2018.

These two books became extremely popular across the book reading community and even won an award during the 2018 Goodreads awards for best science fiction duology.

Schwab stated on a number of her social media profiles that the reason the second book took so long to come out was due to the fact that she completely restarted. She didn’t feel right with how the finished product came out the first time.

In an interview done by Den of Geek, Schwab stated “I had originally written a continuation of ‘Vicious’. That’s all it was. It was a sequel to ‘Vicious’,” but later we find out that it was supposed to be so much more than just that.

“Vicious” starts with two main characters who are college roommates doing research for their biology term paper. It is focused on two different timelines of these boys, Victor and Eli, as they set out to create EOs or Extraordinary people.

In this book, near-death experiences are what causes people to gain special abilities. After one close call to death, this causes a wedge between the boys’ friendship, which is told in the second timeline of the book, many years into the future.

Stated by Schwab herself, according to Den of Geek, “‘Vicious’ is a highly masculine book about toxic masculinity, about identity and obsession, love and hate and friendship and rivalry.”

In comparison to that, Schwab also stated, “‘Vengeful’ is a book about all of that and about the ways that women are stripped of and re-take power in the world.”

“Vengeful” takes place about a year, maybe two, after the end of “Vicious”, and focuses on a female main character. She is set out for revenge after her husband tried to kill her and, from that near-death experience, she was given the ability to disintegrate everything she touched.

These books are told in the first-person perspective, with each chapter being a different point of view from each character in the story.

After reading reviews from other readers, I realized that a lot of others also came to the same conclusions that I did about “Vicious” and “Vengeful”. The issues that these books focus on are so much bigger than just a story.

These books focus on morality, the question if good people can do bad things, and if bad people can do good things.

There’s the talk of religion, feminism and child abuse, there’s a representation of people of color and the LGBT+ community. This is the first set of books that I have ever read with an asexual male as the main character and a strong, bisexual female role in the second book.

With the science fiction element added in, some may even say that this book is brilliant, and I would definitely have to agree with them.

My favorite line from the entirety of these two books is when the main character of “Vengeful”, Marcella, says, “How many men do I have to turn to ash before one takes me seriously?”

These books will make you question your judgment, they will make you fall in love with the wrong person, they will make you feel for those who have done horrible things, and that was her entire plan from the start.

With Schwab’s writing, you can feel that she takes the time to think of the right words for every sentence, and you can feel the effort that she’s putting into her writing.

You can feel that she loved every single word she put on the pages of these two books. It really comes out in her writing.

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