Review: The Wicked We Have Done by Sarah Harian
The Wicked We Have Done by Sarah Harian
Series: Chaos Theory #1
Published by Penguin
Published on: March 18 2014
Genres: New Adult, Science Fiction
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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.
Here’s my rule about spoilers:
If it’s in the blurb, or if it’s in the first 5(ish)% of the book (and therefore available for download BEFORE you purchase the book), it’s not a spoiler.
And that’s my disclaimer.
Meet Evalyn Ibarra.
As The Wicked We Have Done begins, Evalyn is saying goodbye to her mother and 5 y.o. brother before being taken to the Compass Room (à la The Hunger Games). Evalyn lives in a future version of our world in which the scientists have created an arena, I mean testing ground, where violent criminals are monitored both visually and emotionally/hormonally (via neck implant), while being subjected to various reenactments of the crimes that put them there in the first place. All of this to determine their guilt, and all of this to keep the tax-payers from having to provide for the upkeep of inmates while they sit in prison and/or on death row.
B/c it would be so much cheaper to build several 8-miles-in-circumference testing zones, complete with hovering robot spheres capable of emitting enough radiation to EXPLODE a body (among other things, like morph into vines, ropes, chains, whatever is deemed necessary for the reenactment—mighty versatile, those spheres . . . ), not to mention pay all the high-salary scientists to “observe.”
And what did dear Evalyn do to wind up bound for the Compass Room (Compass! As in moral compass! I see what you did there . . . )? She participated in a school shooting that ended in the death of 56 professors (and students?).
Yes. She did.
Not a spoiler. I already told you my rules.
As soon as I learned this, I knew, I knew, that there was absolutely nothing that could rationalize away her part in the crime. I knew it. But I held out hope that I was wrong, that there was some clever twist that would make it all okay, that I didn’t have all the information . . .
Well, I didn’t have all the information, but guess what? Getting it didn’t change a damn thing.
BUT you’re supposed to think it does. Harian goes to great (and by “great” I mean “mediocre”) lengths to use a disconsolate Evalyn to elicit an emotional response. You’re supposed to be thinking to yourself, “She’s SO sorry! Poor girl! What pain she suffers! How could she possibly be responsible for this crime?” so that when the Big Reveal happens, you can say, “See I knew there was a reason!”
Even if you feel that Evalyn made the only decision she could given the circumstances, and that could be debated until the end of time, it doesn’t change the fact that she consciously chose to take a life. She pulled that trigger, she is responsible for that death, and no one will ever be able to convince me that she should get a get-out-of-jail-free card. Prisons are full-to-bursting of criminals who are sorry for what they’ve done. And yet, they’re still sitting there in prison.
Evalyn, sweetheart, you made your bed. Now lie in it.
Disregarding how tacky it is to suggest that a participant in a school shooting should be pardoned for their actions—I tried to tally-up how many teachers and students have been killed and wounded in school shootings in America, but lost track in the 100s (it was 323 in in the 15 years preceding 2007 according ABC news), I can, however, tell you that there were 44 more in the first six weeks of 2014 alone. This is not a thing of the past, and I find it to be incredibly insensitive to fictionalize this topic in any capacity, but especially in an attempt to make a sympathetic character out of the culprit. What’s next? Someone’s family is being held hostage by a terrorist organization, and that’s why they flew that airplane into that building? I felt bad for Mickey in Star Trek Into Darkness when the only way to save his daughter was to blow up that building. Doesn’t make it okay that he BLEW UP THAT BUILDING.
Right. So disregarding that, the book is still terrible. The situations the characters found themselves in, the dialogue, the relationships, ALL exaggerated and/or stock, ALL a complete waste of my time.
The Compass Room runs with groups of ten criminals at a time and has a 25% survival rate. Evalyn’s group is made up of the Angry Lesbian, the Pretty Little Thing that becomes smitten with the Angry Lesbian, the Teenage Geek Who Knows More Than You, the Savior, and the Savior’s Love Interest. There are also token Red Shirts like the Rapist and the Sociopath. The only atypical typecasting in this group is that Evalyn is the Savior and the big, strapping male is the Savior’s Love Interest, but even this is such an obvious and lazy switcheroo that I couldn’t appreciate it.
There are not one, but TWO cases of severe insta-love (yes, insta-love—Casey had issues with Evalyn for less than 24 hours before he began to change his tune, and that my friends, is insta-love), AND all of the melodramatics that go along with it. Dramatics like the fervent belief in the people surrounding you, even though you’ve only known them for two weeks (or less), and even though every single one of them is a murderer in some capacity.
That’s it. I’m done.
I’m waffling between 1.5 and 2 stars b/c I can’t decide whether or not how quick a read this was should warrant an entire star. Yes, I found The Wicked We Have Done to be completely unbelievable and in poor taste, but it only took a few hours of my life vs several days, so that’s something. And, you know, every reader brings something different to the table. I’ve read several good reviews of this book by bloggers whose opinions I respect, so just b/c I hated it, doesn’t mean you will hate it. If you’re interested in NA Dystopia, then it might be the perfect book for you. And hey, forewarned is forearmed.