My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Length: 575 pages
Release date: 25 September 2018
Sydney once had Serena—beloved sister, betrayed enemy, powerful ally. But now she is alone, except for her thrice-dead dog, Dol, and then there’s Victor, who thinks Sydney doesn’t know about his most recent act of vengeance.
Victor himself is under the radar these days—being buried and re-animated can strike concern even if one has superhuman powers. But despite his own worries, his anger remains. And Eli Ever still has yet to pay for the evil he has done.
How many men would she have to turn to dust before one took her seriously?
I may have overhyped this a little bit in my mind. With all the buzz, it was hard not to. And that’s okay. Vengeful is still a solid dose of Schwab awesomeness, even if it just wasn’t as good as Vicious.
My personal sky-high expectations aside, Victor Vale loses some of the magnetic charisma that made him the focal star of the first book. In Vicious he was fascinating, unpredictable, brilliant, a larger-than-life figure forever walking the line between antihero and antivillain. It’s still the same Victor, but everything toned down, like a painting where the hues are edited to be just that bit less vibrant.
The role of the riveting amoral lead is instead filled by newcomer Marcella, who steals the show. Schwab doesn’t give us nearly enough chapters from her vengeful, brutal point of view. Yet Marcella’s chapters were the highlight of the book, and I could reread them for days.
Overall, there are many more plot lines and moving pieces than in Vicious. Schwab’s storytelling chops are second to none, but even she can’t juggle this many story elements without using a few cheap tricks. I feel like there are many more instances of lazy hacking and science-ing in Vengeful, where several problems are solved by tech hand-waving rather than the slick well-crafted plots of Vicious. In Vicious I was seriously impressed by Victor’s schemes, whereas several years on the cleverness was mostly eschewed in favour of hacking ex machinas. Mitch in particular has become a real plot device.
Similarly a small disappointment, the ending isn’t conclusive like Vicious‘s. In a sense, Vengeful suffers from mild middle book syndrome–at this point we’re just moving pieces to set everyone up for the true finale, and I’m holding my breath that it’ll resolve the HUGE Chekhov’s Gun that Vengeful spends a great deal of time developing but never delivers on. It was a let-down, sure, but at this point it’s almost guaranteed to come up big in Victorious.
For all my petty complaints, this is still a powerful novel by an amazing talent. It has the drama, high stakes and suspense that you wanted. EOs are weird, at best maladjusted and at worst sociopathic people, and it shows. The new mix of unique, destructive powers and fast-paced action meant I ate up the book in less than two days, and this is a pretty long book.
As for the big thing: Schwab did it, she really did it even though I told myself it would never happen–she made me feel sympathy for Eli. I don’t know how, and really this son of a bitch deserves no sympathy, but it happened anyway. And there’s a good chance it’ll happen to you.
But don’t take my word for it. Go read Vengeful yourself. It’s a hectic, hella cinematic ride, and I can’t wait for the movie to be announced.