Review: The Wicked We Have Done by Sarah Harian
Published March 18th 2014 by InterMix Books
Review copy provided by the publisher
Scientists have developed a program that can determine whether a person is mortally corrupt. Inside the Compass Room, severe criminals are tested whether they are evil or not. If the Compass Room deems them corrupt, they will die. If you survive for a month, you’re free.
Evalyn has been charged with terrorism for her involvement in a high school shooting. She is ready to be found guilty and to be killed. She is put into the Compass Room, which is reminiscent of the arena in The Hunger Games, with a serial rapist, a girl that put a house on fire which burned an entire family to death, a boy that murdered his father, and several other adolescents that risk death penalty for their alleged crimes.
I really like the concept of The Wicked We Have Done. It makes so much more sense to put people in an arena to test their moral resolve than it is to put children in one to fight to the death for some kind of twisted pleasure of a Capitol. The concept is highly realistic as well – wouldn’t we jump on an opportunity to determine with science to detect evil? To test it in a highly controlled environment?
The arena is brutal. I won’t go into much of the plot other than the premise, since information is only revealed slowly in the story. One aspect I’d like to highlight is that The Wicked We Have Done partly reads like a horror novel. People that are seemingly dead suddenly make appearances that wouldn’t look weird in any horror flick. It is pretty scary, especially in the beginning, when you have no idea what the hell is going on.
The Wicked We Have Done is the first official non-romance new adult book I’ve read, and I wish there were more new adult books like this. I’m not interested in super spicy sex scenes and 18+ bad boys. I enjoy the slightly harsher young adult story, where it’s okay to swear (and they swear a lot) and romantic relationships aren’t crazily platonic (some YA couples are together for years, sleep in the same bed, and never do any boob-touching or anything – yeah right). There is a romance, two actually, which I found acceptable under the circumstances. There is some sex, but they mostly fade to black. The one thing that Ms Harian deserves a brownie for is that the girl is older than the guy. And there is a gay couple. Yay for diversity!
As I’ve pointed out before, the story of The Wicked We Have Done is pretty harsh and brutal, with characters dying a horrific on-screen death a few chapters in. What would have elevated this book from great to fantastic is more brutality. Towards the end Ms Harian decides to go with an ending a bit too convenient and saccharine for my taste. I wish she would have had the balls to make the ending a big whomper of cruelty, which would have fit with the overall tone of the book a lot better. I guess a lot of readers will be glad with how it ended, but I was left wanting she had taken it that one little step further.
A mash-up of science-fiction, dystopia, and horror, The Wicked We Have Done will appeal to the now more grown-up fans of the early young adult dystopia genre.
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.
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