by Sarah Harian
Series: Chaos Theory #1
Published by: Penguin
on March 18, 2014
Genres: Dystopian, Science Fiction
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.
The Wicked We Have Done is the first in the Chaos Theory by Sarah Harian. If offers a Hunger Games like twist known as the Compass Room; an advanced prison test that determines your moral compass. While not without flaws this fast paced tale kept me engaged with its terrifying premise. Mini review: Nine psychotic criminals, thirty-days, freakish tests and diverse crimes made this an intense ride.
• What if murder were seen as black or white? Harian explores this concept with her Compass Room and the prison test subjects.
• Each has been convicted of murder and has chosen to enter the Compass room, a simulation that determines your moral code. It uses some geeky technology and screams twisted Hunger Games. If they survive, they are set free.
• The test subjects are an interesting group. Each has committed murder. Each is guilty, but are all crimes involving death the same? For example, if a woman killed a man who was trying to rape and kill her should she be punished to death? In Harian’s future world that is exactly how this society treats crime. The Compass Room determines if you are good or evil.
• The suspense was delightful. We slowly learn why they are here as the characters themselves share or relive the events. Evalyn’s crime we learn about through flashback chapters. The Compass Room itself interacts with them as they face their own personal demons. Some of the experiences were creeptastic and others made me shiver.
• Just as in any survival game, bonds form between the test subjects. No one wants their final moments to be alone. We see strong characters emerge and begin to understand that not all of these prisoners are psychopaths.
• Evalyn is an interesting protagonist, and we slowly learn details of her crime. She is not innocent, but you cannot help feeling for her and respecting some of her actions within the Compass Room. Harian shows not tells Evalyn’s moral compass helping us understand her actions.
• The romances were sweet, tender, heated, and I understood both the need for them and the character’s intense feelings.
• The Compass Room is freaky from how it tests them, to the environment. Malfunctions ratchet up the intensity.
• We were kept in the dark about a lot of things. I could handle not knowing Evalyn’s crime, and I think it helped us develop a connection with her. What I needed though was a better understanding of how the world got to this point. When we lost the grey so to speak. How was this room developed? Why? When did machines determine Redemption?
• The implants, sensors and other technologies were lightly touched on, but I have a feeling these will be addressed in the second book.
• The book is relatively short and fast paced. This created tension and suspense, but hurt character development. There simply wasn’t time to flesh them out, and some never made it beyond two dimensional at best.
• Harian’s writing style is a little rough around the edges from awkward sentences to moments of telling not showing. It occasionally pulled me from the story as I had to re-read a passage. Again the telling was needed to keep the pace moving, but I would have gladly slowed down to see it develop.
The Wicked We Have Done was intense and despite the issues mentioned I truly had a blast reading it. I consumed the story in a single day, and found myself caught up in the characters and concept. It was refreshing to see a New Adult dystopian and I hope this trend continues. We need mystery, fantasy, and suspense. Fans of Hunger Games and Divergent will see the similarities. I am hoping the novella Our Broken Sky and the second book Vault of Sins scheduled to release in September will flesh out the world more.
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