Vengeful ~ V.E. Schwab (Villains #2)
Good grief I'm finally done with this.
I'm disappointed. I'm underwhelmed. I'm frankly a little pissed off. I went into this book with the excitement of a giddy child and came out a crone hardened by sheer boredom and anger (the worst kind). I was happy with the story, so very happy, but once Marcella (a new addition AKA the lady on the cover) mutinied and became the star of the show, around the 50% mark, I found myself dreading reading this.
I don't want this to be a long review so I'm going to be more brief than I usually am, especially when I have so many feelings. Here are my general feelings about the characters, the plot, and the themes of the book:
I found that all the veteran characters were cardboard cutouts of their former selves. They weren't really there long enough, their feelings and thoughts weren't touched on enough, to really warrant any feelings on my part. Victor was reduced to a hand flicking, wall leaning, tired guy who did things Victor would never do; Sydney was just meh and Mitch didn't drink nearly enough chocolate milk, though I did appreciate the extra time spent on Eli (though in the present, he wasn't nearly as entrancing as he had been in the past and in Vicious). Stell was back, and I actually really liked him. He was the only person who acted like a person, and I really appreciated that.
The new additions were mostly wallpaper. June had no logical motives. Both her and Marcella got their revenges way too soon and too easily to really hold any tension. While the new powers were interesting, I was constantly confused about the state of clothing in regards to June's ability. Basically, she can shapeshift into anyone living that she touches (minusing EOs) and glimpse into their most basic fundamental character aspects. And she also takes...their outfit? What about clothing she puts on separately? Can she remove the clothing? If she wants a specific outfit, does she have to go looking for someone wearing it?
Jonathan, another new addition, started out as a real person and literally became a cardboard cutout (okay not literally but pretty darn close). He just stood there. He rarely spoke. He always wore sunglasses even though everyone knew where he was looking. I forgot that he even existed for a moment.
Dr Haverty was okay, but a little cliche and convenient, and I wish he'd stayed around longer instead of popping up right when I'd completely forgotten he was a character.
Marcella...😒 Marcella was just Aelin Galathynius if you took away the tragic backstory. She's evil for the sake of it, black and white with no trace of grey, and a straight up psychopath. She tries to use feminism to support her ridiculous and unethical behavior and somehow...people agree? Like real people? She makes little snide comments about how men are always underestimating women who are ambitious, how they always call them crazy. No, lady, you are actually crazy. It's not just men saying that. Sydney isn't crazy. Sydney has morals. No one calls Sydney crazy (except for maybe Eli, but he's even more crazy). She said and did a lot of things that undermine real misogyny. She wasn't been underestimated or abused when male characters got mad at her for not holding up her end of the deal. She was being treated reasonably under the circumstances. Yes, her power of ruination was cool, but she used it as proof she is to be worshipped when she doesn't deserved to even be liked. I didn't know if this was intentional or not because the book didn't give me any clear message.
And that brings me to the general theme of this book. Or rather, the lack of a theme. It had no direction, had no point to make. There was no greyness to anything. There were the people we're supposed to see as good guys and those who were obviously villains. There was no unique and interesting philosophy, no real conflict. It was character-driven but didn't have any character tension. Scenes that were obviously supposed to be hardhitting and important character moments lacked any kind of tension whatsoever. They felt stale and boring. The first half of this book was promising, but it didn't keep that promise.
Every end may be a new beginning, but every beginning had to end.
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