SF book set in a world with superpowered people.

Publication year: 2013
Format: Audio
Running time: 9 hours, 54 minutes
Publisher: Buzzy Multimedia Publishing
Narrator: Noah Michael Levine

Eli Cardale and Victor Vale are roommates in Lockland University. They’re both loners and brilliant. Victor arrives at the school first and he really doesn’t want a roommate; he’s already been able to get rid of two of them before Eli arrives and is assigned as Victor’s roommate. At first, Victor considers finding a way to get Eli packing, too, but Eli starts to interest him more and more. They become best friends even though Eli gets the girl Victor is interested in.

For his final work, Eli decides to examine the EOs, as the Extraordinary people are called. For most people, EOs are urban legends, talked about but never seen. They have powers, some flashy but most subdued. Eli has a theory that near death experience can change a person into EO. Eli and Victor test the theory in secret.

Ten years later, Victor has just busted out of jail, with his cell mate Mitch. They have been joined by a 12-year-old girl Sidney and they’re digging up a corpse from a cemetery. Victor is determined to get revenge on his former best friend Eli by killing him.

The book chapters alternate between past and present. It’s also split into two parts: “Water, Blood, and Thicker Things” and “An Extraordinary Day”. Each chapter’s headline tells when it fits into the timeline. Victor and Sydney are the main POV characters.

This book is very similar to the darker superhero comics and the Watchmen movie. (But it doesn’t have a lot of violence nor does it have sex, so not that kind of “mature” comics. ) It examines the darks sides inside every person. People doing bad things for bad reasons and good things for bad reasons.

Victor is the only child of two famous therapists and he hates them. They don’t have any time for him, just sending him from school to school. Eli doesn’t talk much about his parents at all. They both love science and learning and they’re very ambitious.

Eli has a sidekick whom I found more interesting than Eli himself. Victor has a small group of people surrounding him. I liked his friend Mitch the most; he’s not what he seems at first glance. Sydney was also a great character.

I love superheroes so I liked this one a lot. When I loved the dark heroes and anti-heroes a lot more, I would have loved this book. But these days it’s a bit too dark for me to fully love it. Especially the university part of the book almost felt like reading about young Doctor Doom and his just as proud roommate. (Neither of them really remind me of Reed.) Perhaps the constantly repeated name Victor helped with the mental image.

Interestingly enough, this book has a lot of similarities with “Black and White” by Jackie Kessler and Caitlin Kittredge published in 2009. Both books have alternating parts in past and present, characters who used to be best friends and are now arch-enemies, and one of the characters is “good” and the other “evil”. But in “Black and White” the main characters are women and not as arrogant as these two guys. The worlds are quite different, though, since in “Black and White” superheroes are media stars. And the characters in “Vicious” are more cynical.