Friday, 7 March 2014

ARC Review: The Wicked We Have Done by Sarah Harian

The Wicked We Have Done by Sarah Harian
Series: Chaos Theory #1
Publisher: InterMix Books
Release Date: March 18th 2014
Source: NetGalley
Pre-Order: Amazon
Goodreads Summary

Evalyn Ibarra never expected to be an accused killer and experimental prison test subject. A year ago, she was a normal college student. Now she’s been sentenced to a month in the compass room—an advanced prison obstacle course designed by the government to execute justice.

If she survives, the world will know she’s innocent.

Locked up with nine notorious and potentially psychotic criminals, Evalyn must fight the prison and dismantle her past to stay alive. But the system prized for accuracy appears to be killing at random.

She doesn’t plan on making friends.

She doesn’t plan on falling in love, either.

“We die if we’re supposed to die, right?”
While The Wicked We Have Done is not the most original book out there, it certainly was a highly entertaining read; until it took a turn which I couldn’t accept, a turn I STILL cannot accept. It enraged me with how easily it could waive something like ‘that’ off. I just couldn’t.

Comparisons to the Hunger Games will be unavoidable because of the whole survival aspect and how they always found food randomly.  Comparisons to the other dystopian book will also be made due to the whole stimulation aspect but in spite of all these similarities, The Wicked We Have Done does manage to stand out because of the way it presents these ideas. It puts a psychological spin on them and adds the throws in a bit of crime. Because how can what is happening to them be wrong when some of them are in fact evil criminals who ruthlessly harmed other people and took great pleasure in it? The Wicked We Have Done brings up the age old question of the ethicality of death penalty and a hand full of other questions about who the victims are and whether a crime can be justified.

The book opens with a touching scene between the main character, her mother and her brother. They are having their final farewell before she goes to the Compass Room where she will most assuredly die. The chances of survival are extremely low but the main character comforts her mother and younger brother instead and puts on a brave face while the first breaks apart and the latter buys her story (because he is 5). 

Evalyn was a great character (until that one thing which I will get back to later). She was full of guilt and self-doubt yet she also managed to be a leader for all these other criminals. She doesn’t fall apart but instead tried to keep the group together to the best of her ability. She supported everyone, cared about everyone and made good decisions. Yes some were rash but in the end, she was a wonderful leader.

All the other characters fall into the category of well-developed characters. The author gives all of them a sort of depth that I usually find lacking in all other books in the New-Adult category. The author doesn’t just focus on the love interest, Casey. She develops all the characters in the supporting cast and she develops them WELL. And when I say supporting cast, I mean even the characters we encounter in the female lead’s flash backs.

The relationships that  emerged between these characters (except the romance) are wonderful and sweet. It’s just heartwarming to see them all get together and let go of their differences and just survive together. They have each other’s backs. They laugh together. They comfort each other and they help each other face their fears.

The romance was one of the things that bothered me in this book. It definitely had potential. It started off slowly. I was so sure I’d finally found a slow-burn romance that seems to be almost completely absent from New-Adult but then they declared their ‘I love you’s’ in a time span of two weeks. We’re talking about the same people whose first kiss was not a result of attraction but was meant as a way of comforting each other. Given the circumstances, it’s highly probable that bonds will be forge but ‘I love you’s’ declared when the female lead claimed to have been in love with her childhood sweetheart who she was together with for 5 years?? Yeah, not so much.

“..this place is patiently waiting to peel back the layers of your skin and claw out your insides.”

The world building, as I mentioned earlier, was not particularly original, but it worked. The Compass Room was a wonderful idea. It wasn’t built to torture children. It was built to distinguish the morally corrupt from those who weren’t so because while some of these youngsters have committed horrid crimes, for a good number of them, it’s a one-time thing. And so The Compass Room gives them the opportunity to show their innocence. What I also found interesting was that this book wasn’t like a typical dystopia, hell I am not sure it can even be classified as one because I don’t find the government to be at fault here. Yes glitches occurred and shit went down but the intentions were not evil. And the people in this society have a voice. People are allowed to protest, LOTS of people DID in fact protest against the idea of The Compass Room because they didn't find it to be morally correct to put young kids through something so difficult. 

The plot revolves around a group of misfits trying to survive and finding a way to beat the system to save themselves. We are also trying to unravel the mystery of what exactly it was that what went down that landed Evalyn in jail. This was the biggest drawback of the novel. THIS was what screwed the book over. For starters, the author spent too much time dancing around what happened offering us hints instead of just telling us. When we learned what went down, it was heartbreaking but I also think the author was trying to make us see Evalyn as an innocent party which is something I wholeheartedly disagree with. She is not innocent. She may have been a victim but you most definitely cannot label her as innocent. She was definitely guilty and she deserves to do time in jail. Some things cannot be justified in my book, no matter what. Some of the crimes the other characters committed were justified but I cannot write off what she did and I absolutely hate how it was waived off as an act of love. 

If you’re looking for a book that deals more with the whole criminal aspect, read Criminal. It does an excellent job of it and takes crime seriously unlike this book.

That issue was a total buzzkill when it came to this book. It flushed all of my enjoyment down the toilet and replaced said joy with rage. I was angry. I was pissed. But I couldn’t completely dismiss this book. The first 80% was enjoyable. The book (until that point) was a page turner. I was on the edge of my seat, crossing my fingers for all my favorite characters and was thoroughly enjoying the book.

In the end, I would still recommend this to people because it’s something new in the New Adult category, something I haven’t seen before and it really gives me hope for New Adult. That someday I will read a New Adult that makes it to my list of all-time favorites. Until then, I shall patiently wait for that day (and read another book in the mean time).

Note that all quotes have been taken from an uncorrected proof and may be subject to change. 


  1. Sounds intriguing but I am not sure I want to muddle through it!
    Missie @ A Flurry of Ponderings

  2. GAH! You are killing me!! I already had my eye on this book, but your review has done nothing but further peak my curiosity! Now I almost HAVE to read it, even knowing that it will probably piss me off too. Maybe it won't. I have an uncanny ability to blow things off in books that would seriously tick me off in RL. Regardless--I'm reading this book. *grinds teeth*

  3. I don't think I've seen an overly positive review for this book yet, so I don't think you're alone in your feelings. The prison does sound quite unique and it is good to hear of an NA book that's not a contemp. about a really abusive guy for once!

  4. Yeah. We discussed this on Twitter already, but as you know, I was not happy with the "all for love" justification, either. It's kind of ridiculous to give that excuse for something so heinous.

    It's interesting to see how many positive reviews this book is getting so far, too. I suspect a lot of it comes from people who are really interested in advancing New Adult books that aren't angsty contemporary romances, tbh. And while I'm all for that too, it's nice to see more balanced reviews like yours coming through.

    Aside from those things, I think I enjoyed the book even less than you did, however. But I'm curious about her novella...I might give that a chance sometime if the reviews are good.

    Wendy @ The Midnight Garden

  5. Same here! This is the first NA I've read that wasn't solely a contemporary. I did read another interesting one a while back but it was more focused on the romance and not on the other interesting aspects of the world it was set in but I did end up enjoying it.

    A lot of my issues with this book arise from the morality behind some of the things brought up. Some of the issues could have been handled in ways that would have been a lot easier to swallow for me but alas that wasn't the case. The romance wasn't that enjoyable either but then again the book wasn't solely compromised of the romance so it was a lot easier to deal with my issues with the romance.

    Thanks, Rachel!! :)

  6. YOU SHOULD!!!!
    I want to see what you have to say about this one :)
    I actually have that ability too... but it only works so long as everything else is going the way I like it :P
    I remember this one time I dropped a rating of a book from a 4 to a 1 based on the ending alone.. because the ending reminded me of all the other issues with the book I had overlooked in my hope of giving the book a chance to redeem itself.

  7. I know. A lot of people gave it 3s and a handful gave it 5s so the overall reception of this book so far has been mediocre.

    I KNOW RIGHT??? I am so fed up off the abusive guys in NA. Like finally, we have an NA that isn't full of unhealthy relationships and all the other tropes that come in that category *shudders*.

  8. I mean can you imagine the families of all those poor people?? They must have suffered so much and their suffering was kind of forgotten about because the character did it FOR LOVE. FOR LOVE. because love is the answer to all your problems (of course, we're talking about the love b/w friends here but still!)

    I think a lot of my enjoyment of this book actually came from that as well because this was something different in the field of New Adult. New Adult, at the moment, compromises mostly of bad contemporary novels (there are a handful of gems but for the most part ... you'll find an excess of unhealthy relationships and poor treatment of women in general).

    I am actually looking forward to the novella but it's going to be heartbreaking because we all know how it ends (well all of us who read this book).

    I am not sold on the sequel though. I'll have to wait for the reviews to see whether i am going to pick it up or not.

  9. I am very interested in this twist you have described, even if it was one that made you mad xD Plus I love hearing that this gives something new to NA, that's something the genre desperately needs.

  10. It wasn't a twist so much as the author finally telling us what had gone down but.. the way she presented it was.. yeah :/

    This genre desperately needs variety.
    And of the good kind!


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