Verdict: An excellently written tale of two sociopaths. One of whom you might actually like.
Victor Vale and Eli Cardale start off as college friends, for lack of a better word. It’s an unhealthy relationship; there’s an almost-love-triangle factor and Victor has a fixation with getting Eli to show his dark side. When Eli comes up with the idea to write his thesis on ‘Extra-Ordinaries’ (EOs), Victor is immediately jealous that he didn’t think of it. So he jumps on Eli’s bandwagon and urges Eli to make his thesis more than just a theory.
What is an EO?
An EO is an Extra-Ordinary person – humans who have died and been brought back with abnormal abilities. Some might call them superheroes. If the idea of heroism wasn’t such a ridiculous idea in this book.
Eli and Victor experiment (always a good idea) and try to make themselves into EOs. They both succeed – in a manner of speaking – and as a result Victor spends nearly a decade in prison. Once Victor gets out, the real fun begins…
The thing I love most about this book (apart from the writing which is of the excellent quality I am beginning to expect from Schwab) is that there are no heroes in it. In fact, the whole concept of heroes vs. villains – a well-loved trope of superhero tales – is mixed up, blurry and grey. Schwab doesn’t write heroes and villains. She writes people and they are always a mix of both. It just depends from which angle you’re looking at them.
You’d think, with a name like Victor Vale, it’s obvious who the villain of the piece is, but this is not the case. Victor is certainly odd, certainly not-quite-moral, certainly vicious but he’s not a villain. Oh yes, he’s frightening and his one aim in life is to kill Eli Ever, but that’s not the same thing.
Eli Ever (formerly Cardale) paints himself as the hero but, as we soon find out, it’s a mask. Eli sees himself as the one true EO and believes all others are an abomination from God. So he starts killing them. When his old buddy Victor gets out of prison, he knows a storm of great EO proportions is coming.
I sped through this book in a less than a week. Thoroughly enjoyable. Given the ending, I hope that I’ll be furnishing my bookcase with a sequel sometime soon.