A riveting story of ambition, corruption, and revenge. Schwab expertly weaves depth into the story and characters with alternating POV’s and a skillfully paced non-linear timeline. This fast paced and gripping novel- where chapters leap to various points in time- is a terrific twist to the “hero” and “villain” archetype we are familiar with.
This book follows the lives of two pre-med students, Victor Vale and Eli Cardale, from when they start theorising about the concept of enhancing human abilities through trauma and near-death experiences. However, even before their experiments they aren’t powerless. They are used to getting their way; Eli with his charm and Victor with his lies
“All Eli had to do was smile. All Victor had to do was lie. Both proved frighteningly effective.”
They ultimately start obsessing with the concept of ExtraOrdinary people and set out to create their own abilities. But when they tiptoe beyond the boundaries of normal morality they gradually transgress from ambition to corruption and betrayal. And where they have gained in powers, they have lost in each other.
“The absence of pain led to an absence of fear, and the absence of fear led to a disregard for consequence.”
Not only do we get to delve into Victor and Eli’s past, we explore the motivation behind their actions and the allusions of their goals. Where this book intentionally lacks in emotion it more than makes up for it with unforgivable brutality and unmeasurable wit. It’s pretty twisted at times, but I must confess that dark humour was an absolute delight to read and potentially one of my favourite characteristics of the narrative.
This book often blurs the lines between good and bad or in this case bad and worse. Schwab strips our characters from their labels “villain” and “hero” and leaves it completely up to you for who to root for. It is no easy feat to accomplish such a well-rounded story in such a concise way!
5 out of 5 stars (near perfect)