Vicious, by V.E. SchwabRead about the other entries on the list.
Vicious might seem like an outlier on a list full of bizarre, new-wave concepts, but Schwab’s novel of superheroes and villains is a strangely beautiful and yet horrifyingly brutal deconstruction of the mythological struggle between the forces of good and evil. In this world, two scientists, Victor and Eli, discover that a near-death experience will grant people superpowers. Ten years after an experiment gone wrong destroys their friendship and lands Victor in prison, he escapes to exact revenge on his former friend and research partner, even as Eli puts his own ambitious plans into action. While the novel certainly carries the signifiers of a classic tale of good and evil, Schwab adds a staggering complexity to her heroes and villains, while at the same time flipping the classic iconography of “light is good, dark is evil.” The result is a fascinating and heady noir where two flawed people try to out-gambit one another in the hopes of resolving their inner pain.