What Makes Someone a Hero?: The #WWACBookClub on Vicious

For our first #WWACBookClub chat we discussed Vicious by V E Schwab. A dark, aviciousction packed tale of two college roommates – Victor Vale and Eli Ever.

Both driven by their brilliance and ambition they discover the secret to developing superpowers – adrenaline filled near death experiences. In their efforts to turn themselves to ExtraOrdinarys or EOs, something goes horribly wrong. They both get powers, but Victor also ends up in jail and Eli begins a mission to eradicated all other EOs he can find. Ten years later Victor breaks out determined to track down Eli, get revenge and put an end to the madness.

Schwab explores a number of different themes throughout Vicious but in our discussion the question of what makes someone a hero or villain really stood out.



At first glance Victor looks like the villain of the story. He’s the one who has escaped from jail and he’s the one seeking revenge against Eli.

We first asked the question of motivation. Is Victor driven to stop Eli simply by vengeance? That certainly doesn’t fit the general idea of a hero. But is he also driven by a sense of the greater good as well? He knows Eli’s plan is wrong – maybe that’s what pushed him over the edge.

But regardless of his motivations the results of his actions are arguably heroic. He is a hero to Sydney (the young girl he finds abandoned at the side of the row) and other EOs that he saved from Eli. So do results factor into someone being a hero? Or is it all about motivation?

But what about Eli?


We decided the big difference between Victor and Eli is that Eli was never really presented as a heroic figure. There’s always something a little off about him. Victor describes his personality as “glittering and sharp, like broken glass” (page 29).

@PositronicWoman also brought up a good point about the agenda of the author:

“I think a hero is whoever the writer makes a hero,  because it is unlikely that an antagonist sees themselves as the villain”


Though there were a lot of thought provoking elements to Vicious there were some concerns about the mechanics. There are a number of flashbacks throughout the story that explain how Victor and Eli got to the point they’re at now. This worked for some people:

But not everyone:

Casting Call

We ended the chat on the lighter side. Vicious has been optioned for film by Ridley Scott’s production company, so we thought it would be fun to do a little fan casting. Here are our top picks.


Ryan Gosling

Ryan Gosling

Andrew Garfield, looking serious, in a suit

Andrew Garfield



Sebastian Stan

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

Tom Felton



Elle Fanning



Natalie Dormer

Have you read Vicious? Do you think any of the characters are heroes or villains? Do you think the flashbacks added to the story? Or did they slow down the pacing? And do you have any more casting suggestions?

Next Month’s Selection:


The earth is in the middle of WWIII in Insignia, the first entry in S. J. Kincaid’s fast-paced sci-fi adventure trilogy perfect for fans of Ender’s Game.

The planet’s natural resources are almost gone, and war is being fought to control the assets of the solar system. The enemy is winning. The salvation may be Tom Raines. Tom doesn’t seem like a hero. He’s a short fourteen-year-old with bad skin. But he has the virtual-reality gaming skills that make him a phenom behind the controls of the battle drones.

As a new member of the Intrasolar Forces, Tom’s life completely changes. Suddenly, he’s someone important. He has new opportunities, friends, and a shot at having a girlfriend. But there’s a price to pay. . . .

Join us August 18th at 8:30 pm EST for our next #WWACBookClub chat. We’ll be discussing Insignia by S J Kincaid.


Christa Seeley

Christa Seeley

Books Editor. Maple Flavoured Darth Vader Fangirl.

One thought on “What Makes Someone a Hero?: The #WWACBookClub on Vicious

  1. This book surprised me. I thought the flashbacks were a little cliche at first, but as things really started moving along and you started to understand that there are no real heroes in this story, I got caught up in it and then I loved how Schwabb tied it all together in the end so neatly.

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