Victor and Eli started out as college roommates—brilliant, arrogant, lonely boys who recognized the same sharpness and ambition in each other. In their senior year, a shared research interest in adrenaline, near-death experiences, and seemingly supernatural events reveals an intriguing possibility: that under the right conditions, someone could develop extraordinary abilities. But when their thesis moves from the academic to the experimental, things go horribly wrong. Ten years later, Victor breaks out of prison, determined to catch up to his old friend (now foe), aided by a young girl whose reserved nature obscures a stunning ability. Meanwhile, Eli is on a mission to eradicate every other super-powered person that he can find—aside from his sidekick, an enigmatic woman with an unbreakable will. Armed with terrible power on both sides, driven by the memory of betrayal and loss, the archnemeses have set a course for revenge—but who will be left alive at the end?
Schwab is not-so-slowly climbing the ranks of my all time favourite authors.
She has a wonderful imagination, and a stunning way of telling a story- and a talent at making you love the morally questionable characters.
And boy, is this book full of morally questionable characters.
I’m not normally one for superhero type books. I don’t know why- not when I’m a huge Marvel fan and love X-Men style ideas, but with books, most of the time, they annoy me. Characters often become Mary Sues when they have powers- perfect and beautiful and loved by all, but with this being written by Schwab, I thought I would give it a try.
And I was not disappointed.
The book mostly follows Victor, switching between the present day, and various events in the last ten years. From him and his then friend Eli trying to turn themselves into ExtraOrdinaries, to it actually working, the fall out, and the reasons that they are now out to get each other (or, in Eli’s case, out to get every EO in the world). But throughout this whole book, you are never really sure that Victor is even the… ‘good’ character.
Morally questionable indeed- because both characters have murdered- and worse- in the name of their fight. They are both happy to use whoever they can to get what they want, and that normally ends up in more death. Throughout the whole book, I was sat wondering if our Main was actually the villain, because he was not exactly going to best way around his plan.
But, thing about fiction, is the more morally questionable a character, the more you end up loving them. Eli is awful. Even though he is an EO, he thinks he is more than the others, and doens’t care about the bodies he piles up behind him. He would happily stab his best friend in the back because of it all. And Victor isn’t much better. But that is what compels you to carry on reading. You want to know how it will end, which side will walk away and how, and you want to understand how the justify their actions to themselves.
Basically, the whole book is a wonderful mix of super-not-heroes, action, lies, friends and foes and it is honestly brilliant.