The Wicked We Have Done by Sarah Harian

Posted March 27, 2014 | 43 Comments

The Wicked We Have Done by Sarah HarianThe Wicked We Have Done
Author: Sarah Harian
Series: Chaos Theory #1
Published by: Penguin
Publication Date: March 18, 2014
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher via NetGalley

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.

When I first saw The Wicked We Have Done, I thought it was going to be more of a dystopian. I’ve strayed away from those lately, but this book sounded too good to pass up. Turns out this isn’t really a dystopian. Instead, it’s more of a sci-fi-horror-thriller NA, which made me very happy. This book was a fast paced thrill ride that had me completely captivated from beginning to end.

I like how we are given a black and white assessment of the characters in the beginning, judging them to be evil because they have killed. As we get to know them and the circumstances behind their crimes, we discover that sometimes those lines can blurred turning good and bad into a puddle of grey. Because you kill someone, does that mean you have no morals, are automatically unredeemable? This is what The Wicked We Have Done explores, but in a terrifying way. Small groups of murderers have been offered the chance to go into the Compass Room instead of going straight to the death penalty. Except, the Compass Room itself is a death penalty if you are deemed evil. If you make it out alive, then you are set free. Through technology, each prisoner faces tests that accurately measure morality. However, the odds of them making it out are slim.

This is told from Evalyn’s perspective, so she is the character we really get to connect with. When we’re introduced to her, all we know is that she is guilty of a horrendous crime. Everyone is confident that she won’t last long in the Compass Room, because how could someone who did what she did have any morals? Even she doesn’t expect to make it long because she knows she is guilty. As the story progresses, we get to know and understand her better. We also get short flashbacks of incidences that lead up to her crime, and then the crime itself. It’s truly gut-wrenching and heart breaking at times. The author did a great job of showing the kind of person Evalyn is and the love she had for the people in her life. She was a great character: complex, intelligent, and strong. How could I not love her?

However, anytime I’m introduced to more than three characters at once, my mind goes a little numb and I don’t even attempt to connect with any of them at first. So when we get nine right off the bat, I knew I just needed to let it play out and adjust to everyone. Granted, not all of them are there to connect with, so I waited for the herd to thin. Over the course of the book, most of them ended up sticking with me, but there were five I really cared about. Of those five there was one besides Evalyn I really connected with and not going to lie, developed a little girl-crush on. Valarie is an in-your-face-doesn’t-take-crap kind of girl. I loved her!

All of these criminals thrust into the same area trying to survive the elements, each other, and their individual tests is definitely a thrilling ride. Then the threats are amplified when the Compass Room doesn’t seem to be following the rules. No one is safe. There is a bit of a romance, but it isn’t overpowering. I was kind of indifferent to it, though. It wasn’t bad, I just didn’t feel much about it one way or another. That’s just my own taste. I was much more interested in the gritty side of the story. Not that there is really a sunshine and lollipops side to it.

I’m glad I gave The Wicked We Have Done a chance, because it pretty much rocked. Sarah Harian did a fabulous job with her debut novel, and now I’m eagerly waiting for the next book, A Vault of Sins. Thankfully, the wait won’t be too long.



43 responses to “The Wicked We Have Done by Sarah Harian

    • Christy

      It’s really not bad, because the herd is thinned fairly quickly. It’s just the initial meeting and finding out all their crimes that feels a little overwhelming. It’s really good, Naomi. Plus, it’s under $4. 😉

  1. I just read this a few days ago myself, and while I completely agree with you about there being grey areas morality-wise on the issue of taking a life, I don’t think that there are many situations where a person should receive a pass for taking said life. There are certainly a few, but I didn’t think that the all of the characters in this book fell into that category (all of the characters besides the obviously bad ones, I mean). I’m glad you liked it though 😉

    • Christy

      I think in cases like Valerie, Casey, Evelyn … it’s harder. Because yes, they are guilty, no doubt about it. If they had killed in self-defense, it would be easier. We’re looking at the possibility of excusable and/or justifiable homicide in their cases though, which can be found not guilty. I’m talking legally here (at least here in California). And I think that’s why the CR was offered to people like Evelyn before a verdict was reached – it could’ve gone either way. Since the CR is still in beta mode, I think they were purposely looking for criminals of various degrees. There were the obvious psychos, the obvious accidents, and then the ones that were harder to distinguish. That last group is the one the CR is really meant to judge morally. If they are truly morally corrupt, then it’s an easy death sentence. If they make it through, then they are obviously not monsters. It’s just a swifter, more dangerous way to get a verdict without dealing with the biases of jury and such.

  2. Now I’m slapping myself in the face because I didn’t give it a chance. I avoided it because I thought the exact same thing, and since I haven’t really read any NA yet, I was put off a bit by that too. It’s kind of reminding me of Uninvited by Sophie Jordan- but less whiny characters, and I really do adore those exploration books, especially when it comes down to right and wrong and moralistically wise. Definitely buying this one now when I can, but I still want to slap myself in the face for passing it up.

    Kirsty-Marie recently posted: Review: Dear Killer
    • Christy

      I wasn’t the biggest fan of Uninvited. The characters are definitely better in this one, in my opinion. Well don’t put it off any longer, read it!

    • Christy

      lol. Technically the main setting is in the California mountains, the Control Room is outdoors. But yes, pick this up.

  3. What a fascinating premise Christy! I can’t help but be curious as to how this one plays out, I love stories that exist in shades of gray and make me ask myself difficult moral questions. Like you, I tend to struggle with large casts of characters, so the fact that we get nine right off the bat will be a touch bothersome for me, but it seems like you were able to get past that fairly quickly. Looking forward to this one!

    • Christy

      Yeah, the large cast is just overwhelming when we first meet them and learn their crimes, but the group shrinks fairly quickly.

    • Christy

      Don’t worry about the 9 characters. It seems overwhelming when you first meet and learn their crimes, but it doesn’t talk long before some are eliminated. The sci-fi element is very light. The Control Room is actually up in the California mountains, so they are in the wilderness. The simulations and the technology involved is what makes it sci-fi.

  4. What a disappointment when I run to audible to look for a book an it’s no there 🙁
    Oh well, you said it rocked, so I have to wait for a while to see for myself. I had it on my TBR already, but you gave the last push to go get it, I hate waiting, but I know I won’t have time to read it with my huge TBL. I hope is on audio soon!

    • Christy

      There isn’t enough outside world building to give a dystopian feel, but the sci-fi elements are not overpowering either.

  5. This seems like a very exciting premise! The many multiple points-of-view is a little intimidating, but I’m glad several stood out for you.
    Thanks for the great review!

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  6. Okay, I’ll admit that the last two lines of the synopsis is a turnoff, but since you said the romance wasn’t overpowering, I’m definitely interested in this one! I really think I’ll like the characters, Valerie especially. ^_^ I’m really curious about all of their crimes as well. Definitely pushing this to my wishlist!

    Aimee recently posted: Movie Review: Divergent
  7. Joy

    Wow, what an interesting concept. And I agree, sometimes there’s a very fine line between an unredeemable act and one that can be forgiven. Not sure how I’d go with the multiple POVs, the max I like is 2. Great review Christy 🙂

    Joy recently posted: Disruption Book Launch Event
    • Christy

      There’s actually only one pov, but we’re introduced to multiple characters, so it’s not really that bad.

  8. Great Review Christy! This story sounds like one wild ride! I get confused and my brain shuts down when there are too many POV’s also. I love the complexity of Evalyn’s character, and Valarie sounds like a character that I’d love as well! I like that this story sounds unique, and the Compass Room sounds very intriguing!

    • Christy

      We only get Evalyn’s pov, so it’s not that bad. It’s just the initial introduction to the other characters and their crimes that feel a little overwhelming. I doesn’t take long for the group to thin out, though.

  9. Oh wow. That is a lot of characters to take in at once. Glad she was able to make it work. And totally love the idea behind the story. It’s always interesting to see how things like that play out and how an author can tweak your original thoughts or what’s “right”

    anna recently posted: Tag: The Cat Herder (edition 1)
    • Christy

      The group of characters thins fairly quickly. It’s just when we first meet them and learn their crimes, it feels a little overwhelming. But really, it’s not much different that when we’re introduced to the players in The Hunger Games. I had the same reaction with that, too.

  10. Thanks so much for sharing this one: I originally passed this over several times but your review has me convinced so I added it to my TBR! I’ve grown bored lately of science fiction and dystopian but this sounds like it will really mix it up for me 🙂 awesome review!!!

    Lauren recently posted: March Wrap Up

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