Bingo Review 3 (Birthday- V.E. Schwab 7/7)
I have to admit that I had a hard time getting myself to pick up Vengeful. I don’t pre-order often, but this I had, so it’s not like it hasn’t been physically on my TBR shelf since it came out. I’m pretty sure I was just worried I wasn’t going to like it as well as I had Vicious. I really only picked it up when I did because it fit a Bingo square that was going to change soon. I’d read the first few pages not long after I’d gotten it, but then I had company for a while and this was something I wanted to read by myself for some reason.
Plot-wise, Vengeful is the sequel to Vicious, and so continues to follow Victor Vale, Mitch, and Sydney on one hand, and Stell and Eli Ever/Cardale on the other. Eli is now in jail and under the supervision by Stell who is now director of a shady organization called EON that forcibly detains Eos and studies them. Victor is now having troubles with blackouts/dying for minutes at a time and unstable powers, and his goal for much of the novel is to find a cure. Eli is vivisected daily by a doctor whose intentions are unknown for much of the novel. In addition to these goings on, we now have Marcella, an ambitious mob wife who becomes an EO after nearly dying in a fire caused by a fight between her and her husband. After getting revenge for how she’d been treated, she decides she want to take over the mob, but really the city. And then there’s June, a mysterious EO with the ability to shape-shift into other people and any injury she receives while borrowing someone else’s look is actually inflicted on the original person, not June. She has some mysterious interest in Sydney, and by extension Victor. She ends up working with Marcella, so who is she and what side is she on?
Vengeful is structured kind of like Vicious in that it’s not told chronologically at first, but I really didn’t notice that nearly as much; it just seemed like flashing back and forth. This isn’t a complaint, but I do think that the structure either wasn’t as novel or maybe information and events are a lot more connected because of familiarity with some of the backstory. On the subject of backstory, the author had said on social media more than once that she was pretty sure people were going to feel sympathy for Eli, if not start to like him a little. To that I say, sorry, V.E, but you didn’t get me there. There was one moment when I felt bad less for him but really the two people he’d just lost, but that was the only moment when he had a human reaction to something and also the only part of his backstory I hadn’t really guessed before. It didn’t last.
I really like V.E Scwab’s books, but I don’t seem to agree with her or at least her superfans on favorite characters. Everybody seemed to love Marcella; I found her one-dimensional and not very sympathetic because she brought a lot of her problems on herself. Yes she was an ambitious woman surrounded by men who didn’t want her to actually do anything but look pretty, which is not her fault exactly, except that she actively worked to push herself and her husband into that world. What did she expect? Does she have any other emotion beyond frustrated rage or pride/over-confidence? June was far more interesting, and there’s so little known about her. I have some vague suspicion about what she might be up to, but there is virtually no details about why she’s interested in Sydney and what she wants. I’m pretty sure I’m being baited on this, and as long as it doesn’t take 10 years, I’ll be ok with that. To be continued I hope, at least some day.