Book Review: The Wicked We Have Done by Sarah Harian

Posted March 9, 2014 by Kara in book review / 7 Comments

Book Review: The Wicked We Have Done by Sarah HarianThe Wicked We Have Done by Sarah Harian
Series: Chaos Theory #1
Published by Intermix on March 18th, 2014
Genres: new adult
Pages: 165
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon

A debut author’s darkly suspenseful take on New Adult romance--and a perfect read for fans of Veronica Roth's Divergent. Twenty-two-year-old 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.

Ughhhh.  Is there anything worse than waiting excitedly for MONTHS for a book only for that book to fall flat in every way?  I don’t think so.  The Wicked We Have Done has so much potential – I mean, look at that premise!  Unfortunately, it never, ever lives up to that potential and it is so disappointing.

The Good
The premise.  It’s definitely interesting to think about, an obstacle course for convicted criminals used to determine their morality.  There are a lot of books coming out in the recent months that deal with morality and genetics and different tests to measure these factors.  I liked the idea, and I like the in-prison beginning that set the stage for the rest of the novel.
– The characters’ back stories.  I am basically addicted to crime TV, from Investigation Discovery to Law & Order.  I can’t get enough of the gory details and I readily admit it’s a little sick.  So I found it interesting and intriguing, learning about the characters’ different crimes and motivations.
–  Bonus points for this being a New Adult title that isn’t entirely devoted to bad boy romance and angst and awkward sex.
The Not-So-Good
– I felt no connection to any of the characters.  It was like there was this window between me and the characters that let me see into their world, but prevented me from actually immersing myself in their world.  
A major lack of urgency.  Because of the disconnect with the characters I never really cared when it came to the more intense scenes.  Some characters would die, others would be in serious peril, and I never really felt anything.  There was no heart-pounding tension or edge-of-your-seat factor for me.  I didn’t care at all.  Also: a lot of this is because I could just TELL most of the characters would be fine. This didn’t strike me as a kill-your-darlings king of book.
Clunky writing.  There were lots of awkward sentences, and then sometimes some serious grammar fails.  At one point “I lied down on my back” came up and I kind of wanted to throw the thing across the room.  There were also a ton of sentence fragments that got annoying quickly.  On top of that, there were continuity issues.  A character who was introduced as tough and angry and a girl not to be fucked with in prison, is later described as a punching bag for other inmates.  Maybe these things will be fixed before the final release, but I doubt it since it was so prevalent.

– Lack of focus and direction.  This book doesn’t know what it wants to be.  Is it dystopia? Horror? Romance?  All three, and it felt very thinly stretched in all the directions.
– Unsexy sex scene is unsexy.  It was actually kinda gross and I felt vaguely voyeuristic.  I didn’t feel any chemistry between the characters anyway, so all the ‘sexiness’ felt forced and icky.  (But thankfully not in the scary rape-ish icky that most NA has. Phew.)

– Finally, I thought it was strange that they had men and women inside the Compass Rooms (and even go so far as to administer contraceptive injections – which, hello, STDs?) but they still separate by sex in the actual prisons.  I don’t know.  Not a big deal, but still strange.

This wasn’t a horrible book.  It was readable and nothing came up that was rage-inducing.  Mostly, it was boring and I felt wholly ambivalent about the characters.  I do appreciate the risks the author took for the NA category, but overall I’m just disappointed.

7 responses to “Book Review: The Wicked We Have Done by Sarah Harian

  1. The premise sounds so good so I’m sorry to hear about the execution. I’ve just read a few books where I couldn’t care about the plot or the story, and it really does kill the story. I also don’t like that this book doesn’t seem to threaten the characters. I don’t really like books where characters are in terrifying situations but somehow, everything ends up working out perfectly.

    Great review!

    -P.E. @ The Sirenic Codex

    • Right. I think the most important thing while writing dystopians (aside from world-building) is creating a dire situation. And it’s hard to actually feel that tension and horror when no actual characters are dying.

  2. Now that you point it out, the sex was REALLY unsexy and I basically skimmed those scenes.. which is kind of just sad 😛 And I agree, I didn’t feel much chemistry b/w the characters either. Their romance came out of nowhere.. I actually thought the author would spend more time developing it but then suddenly.. they were having sex and I was just O_O… yeah.

    But my biggest issue with the book was how what Evalyn did was dismissed as an act of love :/
    It bothered me to no end and it STILL angers me because.. she is not the innocent party here! She was a victim but she wasn’t innocent. The innocent party were those who were harmed (I am trying not to be spoilery .-.)

    Great Review, Bekka!! 🙂

    Rashika @ The Social Potato

    • I definitely agree. The book spent a LOT of time trying to excuse pretty much everyone’s actions, no matter how deplorable. I mean, that one guy buried someone alive! And we’re supposed to be on board with a romance with him? I don’t think so.

  3. Meh. This one’s too bad. I also love the network ID. It’s my go-to channel when nothing else is on. I love watching how crimes are solved, so this sounded pretty interesting. I have to admit that I mostly steer clear of the NA genre, but it is nice to know that this one isn’t all about bad-boy romance, although the sex scene sounds icky at best. I think I’ll skip this one. The world is just too full of good books to waste any time on blah ones. Great review!

    • Yeah I am so NOT a fan of NA but I thought this one would be cool since it’s not romance. But it just didn’t work, again.

      And yessss to all the ID.

  4. I loved this book so it is always interesting to see why others didn’t. I think they kept them separate in prison because they had to use the time to make sure the birth control took effect. Once the pills had time to work it didn’t matter if the sexes mingled. Also now that I see it pointed out I can see why you might think they were dismissing Evalyn’s crime because I remember a few scenes where it felt really downplayed. In the end though I think they really showed her guilt. She of being naive and also following through with helping someone she knew was a whack job.

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