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Noelle August

The Wicked We Have Done

The Wicked We Have Done - Sarah Harian image

The Wicked We Have Done has been on my radar ever since I saw that the author, Sarah Harian, mentioned that it was inspired by the TV show LOST. Color me interested.  If you didn't know, I am and will forever be a huge fan of that TV show. The characters are unforgettable and all of them are incredibly flawed.  Similarly, the characters Harian created in her debut novel are equally (if not more) flawed.  All of them are convicted criminals.  The Wicked We Have Done is an action-packed thrill ride with twists and turns on every page, leaving the reader guessing at what happens next.

Check out Sarah's Interview & Guest Post on how LOST inspired this novel HERE!

The story is told through Evalyn Ibarra's point-of-view. On the outside, she seems like your normal college-aged girl.  But everyone in America knows who she is and what she did.  Evalyn was a participant in a mass-murder school shooting, leaving fifty-six dead and a lot of blood on her hands.  Her sentence, however, is not what you think.

Set in America at some point in the future, you learn that the government has a new way to punish criminals.  A way that will separate those criminals who are truly wicked at their core.  With incredible advancements in technology, the government has created an elaborate simulation system called Compass Rooms.  Convicts have a choice to either go through with their sentence and face life in prison or the death penalty or go to the Compass Rooms for the thirty days.  The catch?  Well, out of the ten people that are place in a Compass Room, on average 2.5 survive.  Not great odds.
"The only thing I do know about the Compass Room is that this test is supposed to see who you truly are, despite your research. Despite good acting or the lies you tell yourself."

Our heroine, Evalyn, is America's favorite person to hate. She's a terrorist.  A murderer.  Everyone wants to see her burn in hell.  And she knows it. She chose to forego her prison sentence and face possible death in the CR.  Along with ten other participants, she gets an implant put into brain that will monitor her hormones and emotions.  Using these levels, the CR's algorithms will determine her fate, will determine if she truly good or truly bad.
"Even they they committed crimes, I am the queen of darkness. They have nothing to worry about. If I'm really evil, the CR will make sure that by day two, my heart isn't beating."

On her way to meet her fate, Evalyn meets the other nine who will join her in the CR simulation.  Four other girls and five guys.  Some of them did unimaginable things.  Salem raped several women; Erity was convicted of murdering four women whom she used as human sacrifices in black magic; Gordon was the crazed psychopath who kidnapped and drugged several people.

All ten of them were placed in the CR — a place in the middle of nowhere amidst a thick overgrown forest with only the bare essentials.  The Compass Room picks them off one by one, making its mathematically calculated decision.  But is the CR making the right choice?  Is it executing the right people?

What I really liked about this novel was that none of the characters were perfect.  At first, I wasn't sure if I was going to even like them. I mean, they're all seemingly terrible people who did horrible things.  At least, that's what you're led to believe.  However, throughout the novel , Harian delves deeper into the characters' pasts.  Everything that you learn in the beginning is not as it seems.  Everything isn't black and white.  Right or wrong.

Evalyn is a strong heroine.  She went into the Compass Room prepared to die and to accept her fate. Portrayed as this ruthless killer, Evalyn isn't like that at all in the Compass Room.  In the middle of death and sorrow, she is the strong force the binds the group together, coming up with a plan and a way to make things better.  Throughout the novel, Evalyn's backstory is revealed through a set of flashbacks.  Harian slowly and methodically reveals the events leading up to her heinous crime.  What is revealed is incredibly sad and not at all what I was expecting.

The hero in the novel is Casey Hargove, a man who buried his father alive.  Casey and Evalyn don't exactly get along at first, but tragedy and trials bring them together.  As each of them are tested, they help each other through the simulation, creating a strong bond of love and trust.
"Casey needs order and control and for things to exist only with meaning. He is the antithesis of chaos. He is the opposite of everything that destroyed my life."

While some scenes had me turning the pages, there were moments that I felt dragged.  I was hoping for deep discussion between the characters about morality and good versus evil.  Instead, much of what determined "good" and "evil" was whether the person was justified in committing their crime. Additionally, I had a hard time fully connecting to Casey and Evalyn's romantic relationship; I wanted more development there.  I didn't feel the chemistry between the two of them.

Overall, I liked the story.  The writing was solid and the concept was intriguing. I really enjoyed the main group of characters (Jace, Valerie, Tanner, Evalyn and Casey), which is a hard feat to do considering all of them are potentially unlikable.  Like in LOST, the characters had to bond together and work together to survive and make it out alive.

3.5 stars

* I received a copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review



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I cannot wait for this book! The author describes it as "a sexy, scary and speculative thriller inspired by the show LOST."
Release date: March 18, 2014