Considering how much I enjoyed Vicious, I was so excited for Vengeful! I have really been sinking back into super powered humans, and Schwab’s world building continually impresses me. But what did I think? Keep reading this book review for find out my full thoughts.
Magneto and Professor X. Superman and Lex Luthor. Victor Vale and Eli Ever. Sydney and Serena Clarke. Great partnerships, now soured on the vine.
But Marcella Riggins needs no one. Flush from her brush with death, she’s finally gained the control she’s always sought—and will use her new-found power to bring the city of Merit to its knees. She’ll do whatever it takes, collecting her own sidekicks, and leveraging the two most infamous EOs, Victor Vale and Eli Ever, against each other.
With Marcella’s rise, new enmities create opportunity–and the stage of Merit City will once again be set for a final, terrible reckoning.
It’s actually taken me a few days to solidify how I feel about Vengeful. No question about it, I still greatly enjoy the world building. Schwab has done something fun and while super powers are not entirely unheard of, Schwab brings something refreshing. The amount of details in origin stories, powers, and ethics? Fabulous. But whereas with Vicious there was a clear plot direction – the showdown between Victor and Eli – in Vengeful it felt more meandering.
There were whole sections while reading where I wasn’t sure where the story was going. Did I enjoy the ride? Yes, but in the first I felt this current and almost a feeling of a ticking time bomb. But that wasn’t the same for Vengeful. And that largely has to do with the introduction of Marcella as a character. At the beginning, I was smitten with her. Her ruthlessness, her cunning, her performative nature? Don’t get me wrong, a little unsettled by her actions, but her? Love. But because of that, I felt like there were whole sections where I lost Victor’s story.
And if Marcella’s arc didn’t go the way it did in Vengeful, maybe that would have made more cohesive sense to me. But – without spoilers – reflecting on it I felt like I was confused about Marcella as a purpose? As a piece of the broader story which was established in Vicious. That being said, one of my favorite elements in Vengeful was the way that Marcella makes us question the differences between the three of them: Marcella, Victor, and Eli. There’s discussions about ethics, moral high grounds, and necessary sacrifices. About what makes each of them different, separate, right or wrong.
Because both of these books excel at providing morally ambiguous flawed characters. Ones where their actions seem so far removed from ourselves and our lives, until pieces of them echo our fears, our insecurities, and doubts. At what point do we become us? And just because we may understand someone, see their past, does that condone their actions?
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Another element that disappointed me was that I also kind of hoped we’d get to know Sydney and Mitch more, but they seem to be kind of firmly rooted in side character land. However I have hope for them in the next one, especially considering the new side character additions in Vengeful. And now the big question, will I read the next one? Definitely. With that last 15% I need to find out if my theories are correct….