Dark, Fantasy, Non-fiction, Well known books

[General lit] Vicious..ly Odd, But Really Good? + Added Reality For Kicks Vicious by V.E. Schwab + Real Life Super Heroes by Nadia Fezzani

Trying my first V.E. Schwab book, I wasn’t sure what to expect – her books seem to be really big in the community, and yet I didn’t even know which kind of books they were. Would it be funny, sad, jokey or filled with adventure? I should have known better. I mean, I know the book world now mostly goes in favor of dark. And really – the name should have tipped me off, right? It was dark, serious, unforgiving. But it was good. And the most unusual kind of book I’ve ever read, probably. If I had to come up with a short tagline? I’d say it was a “well written and really enjoyable I-don’t-know-what.”

But today, that’s not all I’ll be talking about. I’ve had this review copy of Real Life Super Heroes lying around on my Kindle for a long time (#NetGalley guilt), and when I finished Vicious, I realized it would be the perfect chance to make this post even more interesting. Because both books talk about sort of the same phenomenon – except Nadia Fezzani talks about it in reality!! Before I picked it up, I never even knew real life super heroes existed! But they do. They have communities. And they even have super villains.

But first, let’s start with Vicious! Let me give you a couple of reasons why you should pick it up.

Reasons To Pick Up Vicious by V.E. Schwab

If you were able to create a super hero, would you? And if you could make yourself one..? Victor and Eli start out as friends, but when this whole superhero (called ExtraOrdinary in the book) starts off, their friendship is very seriously challenged, and starts changing… I really would not like to give any more details about Vicious, cause I believe it’s best to read it going in without more info! The main points you need to know are that it’s not your usual take on super powers. And it’s going to be dark. Veeeery dark.

It’s Not Black Or White

Vicious is just sooooooo complicated about being a villain or a hero. The thing is, the main character is sort of a bad guy. But he’s also not! And the good guy… Is also really, really damn bad. You get torn between choosing sides, and whether it’s right to choose this one or that one… Whether it’s right to choose a side at all. The characters are all so perfectly, wonderfully complex – I felt it was very realistic and representative of real life. I mean, who’s really all evil or all good? There are just points of view. Some of them might be more tilted towards good or bad, but we all make mistakes. And we all have emotions that skew our choices. Nothing in real life is ever really white or black. Ordinary humans made extraordinary don’t make heroes. Instead, they all make villains. Some less evil, some more. If this was a planet of heroes, there wouldn’t be wars or famines, after all.

POV of a Villain… In Fact, Multiple!

V.E. Schwab is just SOOOOO good with emotions. The emotions that drive us, why we have them, why we do things (think origin stories here.) And I admit that always hearing the story of the hero is getting old! That’s why we adore movies like Megamind and Suicide Squad (alright, maybe we *wanted* to adore Suicide Squad, but it was more of a Suicide Squib. But my point is, we adore the idea behind it.) Seeing the bad guy’s point of view, and seeing that maybe they’re not *THAT* bad after all is interesting, novel, and maybe even a little bit encouraging about the world in general.

Vicious Will Make You Think

The story is all mixed up in time lapses, and up to half of the book you pretty much don’t know what’s going on! (That’s partly why I say it’s best to go in without much info.) But there’s a plan alright. And it makes perfect sense! It also has so many characters you may or may not get attached to – the time lapses bring their backstory in very gradually, but throughout all of the book, your mind will be hard at work trying to figure out what’s really going to happen, why it’s happening and what are the characters’ motivations. More than that, Vicious is such a morally mixed up book, like I mentioned before – it WILL make you think constantly about what’s right and what’s wrong, why, and whether these concepts exist at all.


And now let’s talk about Real Life Super Heroes by Nadia Fezzani…


Before reading Real Life Super Heroes, I never even knew this phenomenon existed! I don’t think it exists where I live (a small country in Europe), which is not surprising, cause I think the cultural reasons to this phenomenon lie in how much super hero lore is loved in the West. Regardless of its roots though, it’s an amazing concept.

So basically, what ARE real life super heroes? Some will say they are weirdoes, so will say they seek attention, but no matter what you might think of them, I believe they manage to do some good. Real life super heroes are usually local volunteers, and they either patrol the dangerous streets at night to help resolve conflict or call the authorities, or they also sometimes do homeless outreach, trying to help the people who are in a bad place in their lives at the moment. But the main thing about them that seems to draw attention is that they wear costumes, or at least masks. This book delves into the phenomenon, talks to the super heroes themselves, tries to get to the bottom of why these people do it and what hiding their real identity gives them, as well as considering the community impact it produces.

I should have to mention that it doesn’t just talk about real life super heroes! It has a big part dedicated to real life super villains! Yes, those exist – but unlike in many super hero flicks, these guys are not out there to cause pain and create chaos (well, at least not most of them!) – they’re out there to unmask fake super heroes, point the finger at anyone who is misusing their fame or power, and generally supervise and criticize the community.

And while I would not like to talk in depth about what’s discussed in this book for the same reason as it was with Vicious – you should read about these things without me spoiling them – I will, however, divulge that I didn’t think that nonfiction could have twists. But after finishing this book, literally the last page, I was so stumped I put it down and stared forward for about a minute or two. Wow, Nadia Fezzani – you got me good. Did NOT expect that. AWESOME.

Also, if you want to read more about this, here’s a nice article in Toronto Star about Thanatos, one of the super heroes (who might not even be active anymore) who I have some real respect for.

I thank Tor Books for giving me a free copy of Vicious, and also Dundurn for giving me Real Life Super Heroes in exchange to my honest opinion. Receiving the books for free does not affect my opinion. You can buy Vicious here at Book Depository and buying using this link supports the blog. And you can also buy Real Life Super Heroes here at Book Depository too.

Have you read Vicious? And have you heard anything about real life super heroes at all, and I mean the phenomenon?

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3 years ago

Ugh! Vicious has been on my TBR for way too long and I have too much to read. But now you have me chomping at the but to crack it open

3 years ago

Real life superheroes sounds interesting. I knew there were some people that do things like that but I didn’t know there was a book about them. I read Vicious last year and I’m waiting for the sequel!

Lucy // lucyturnspages.co.uk

Brian Joseph
3 years ago

The real life superhero thing is wild. I had no idea that they existed. I read the article on Thanatos. I should read this book as I would like to know more about them.

Complex characters are such a good thing. Thus Vicious sounds very good.

The Orangutan Librarian

Amazing review! I so love how it’s not black and white and it’s definitely thought provoking 😀 And I *love* when villains get their own pov 😉

Lexxie @ (un)Conventional Bookviews

I have Vicious on my shelf, Evelina, and I am going to read it before I go to BookExpo next week – as V.E. Schwab will be there, too 🙂
I’m glad you enjoyed it!

3 years ago

Oh, now I really have to pick up Vicious. Same as you, I have been hearing about V.E. Schwab’s books for so long – I even follow her on twitter? – but I’ve yet to read one.

And I hadn’t heard about these real-life superheroes too! Nothing of that kind happens over here either, haha.

Aj @ Read All The Things!

Great reviews! I knew there were real-life superheroes, but I didn’t know there were communities of them. I thought it was just a few unusual people. I loved Vicious. I need to reread it before the sequel comes out.

Laura Thomas
3 years ago

I have Vicious too. It somehow got lost in my stacks. Now I want to pull it out ASAP! What a great idea for a post, Evelina. As always, so fun!

JJ @ This Dark Material

So much Schwab on my TBR right now! I’m so glad you liked Vicious, though, because this morally grey and villain-centered story sounds like my perfect cup of tea 🙂 Here’s hoping that I can get around to either this or ADSOM very, very soon. Great pair of reviews Evelina ♥

3 years ago

I’ve been meaning to read more books by V.E. Schwab. I think I’ve read two: The Near Witch and The Archived (both different but incredible books). I’m glad this one worked for you since you’re new to her, too. I’ve heard a lot of positive things about this series, and I love that the lines between light and dark are blurred. Also, like you said, VILLIAN POVs! Whoop!

L @ Do You Dog-ear?

Bee (Quite The Novel Idea / Novel Ink)

I adoooore Vicious and need to re-read it before Vengeful comes out for sure! 🙂

Lauren Becker
Lauren Becker
3 years ago

I’ve never really read anything about real life superheroes – but how fascinating! I actually own Vicious and I HOPE to read it soon. I just finished A Gathering of Shadows by Schwab – the second in her Shades of Magic Series -so my plan is to read the third and final book in that series ASAP and then I can finally read Vicious. It sounds fascinating, and I love that the whole hero/villain thing isn’t black or white.


3 years ago

Ah, I had Vicious on my list for the popsugar reading challenge, for the prompt about a villain 🙂 Haven’t read it yet tho, but now i’m even more excited. I have not read anything before by this author either.

3 years ago

These books both sound amazing. I still haven’t gotten around to reading a VE Schwab book, but I should definitely do that soon. I also had no idea real life super heroes were a thing. Just, WHAT?! Very cool books, thanks for sharing!


[…] week I posted two reviews – Vicious by V.E. Schwab and a companion review for Real Life Super Heroes – both books you should really consider reading! Also, on Friday, we returned to a #NewBloggers […]

Stephanie Jane
3 years ago

I’ve seen the Schwab books on so many blogs and I love their cover art! Such striking images. I hadn’t thought I would enjoy the novels themselves, but your Vicious review has got me rethinking! Thank you 🙂

Sim @ Flipping Through the Pages

I haven’t read any V.E. Schwab book either but this one definitely caught my attention because of the cover 😀 It is really pretty. Also, the Real life superheroes do sound interesting. And yes you were right in choosing both the books to review together.
I would love to read a book from a villain’s PoV.

P.S. I have noticed that you have changed your comment plugin and have removed commentluv plugin? 🙂

Jackie B
3 years ago

UGH! Sorry, I have to start with a rant. I wrote some AWESOME comments to this post (and Sunday Post #60) and they aren’t THERE! WHAT?! UGH. *sigh* Okay. We’re cool. We’re cool…. I love it when I can find related themes in books accidentally. Even when they are super obvious. Sometimes, I’ll try to arrange a collection of books to be read at the same time which share themes. Actually! A book club I’d love to try some day is a theme-focused book club. Each meeting has a theme associated with it. Everyone reads a book and comes back… Read more »

Becky @ A Fool's Ingenuity

Vicious! I loved that book (I think, I can’t really remember, I plan to reread now a collector’s editions come out because I deserve having that copy in my life). I remember really enjoying discovering that it’s not all black and white and the definition of hero and villain is not so straight forward. I didn’t realise there were real world super heroes though. That’s pretty cool, what an interesting book to read to coincide with Vicious!

Jenna @ Falling Letters

It’s so fun to read someone’s first review of a Victoria Schwab book, haha. I haven’t read Vicious yet but I would like to!

Kaleena @ Reader Voracious

I have been seeing Vicious everywhere lately, and your review has made me want to read it! I have a mighty need!