Superheros and super villains are dominating the movie and TV-sphere at the moment, but what about their literary counterparts? They seem to be a rarer breed, but we still managed to round up a list of our favourite books involving conflicted heroes, complex villains, and all sorts of morally-dubious characters in between. (FYI, we’re not including comic books in this particular article.) Have we left out any of your favourites? Let us know in the comments section below!
Vicious – V.E. Schwab
Plenty of humans were monstrous, and plenty of monsters knew how to play at being human.
A wonderfully nuanced, fairly dark book where there are no clear delineations between the good guys and the bad ones. Vicious involves two arch-nemeses, Victor and Eli, the former on a quest for revenge, and the latter murdering people in pursuit of what he thinks is ‘right’. Well-written, creepy, and full of twists and turns, taking on the hero/villain tropes and turning them on their spandex-clad heads.
Victor and Eli started out as college roommates—brilliant, arrogant, lonely boys who recognized the same sharpness and ambition in each other. In their senior year, a shared research interest in adrenaline, near-death experiences, and seemingly supernatural events reveals an intriguing possibility: that under the right conditions, someone could develop extraordinary abilities. But when their thesis moves from the academic to the experimental, things go horribly wrong. Ten years later, Victor breaks out of prison, determined to catch up to his old friend (now foe), aided by a young girl whose reserved nature obscures a stunning ability. Meanwhile, Eli is on a mission to eradicate every other super-powered person that he can find—aside from his sidekick, an enigmatic woman with an unbreakable will. Armed with terrible power on both sides, driven by the memory of betrayal and loss, the archnemeses have set a course for revenge—but who will be left alive at the end?