The Wicked We Have Done by Sarah Harian

March 19th, 2014 Kimberly Review 80 Comments

19th Mar
The Wicked We Have Done by Sarah Harian
The Wicked We Have Done
by Sarah Harian
Series: Chaos Theory #1
Published by: Penguin
Genres: Dystopian, Science Fiction
Source: Publisher
Purchase: Amazon
Rating: One StarOne StarOne StarHalf a Star

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.

Caffeinated aspects:

• 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.

Decaffeinated aspects:

• 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.


About Sarah Harian

Sarah Harian grew up in the foothills of Yosemite and received her B.A. and M.F.A. from Fresno State University. When not writing, she is usually hiking some mountain or another in the Sierras, playing video games with her husband, or rough-housing with her dog.

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

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About Kimberly
Kimberly is a coffee loving book addict who reads and listens to fictional stories in all genres. She's a self-professed Whovian, as well as a Supernatural, and Sherlock Holmes junkie, She enjoys sharing books, tips, recipes and hosting the Sunday Post. The coffee is always on and she is ready to chat...Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

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80 Responses to “The Wicked We Have Done by Sarah Harian”

    • kimbacaffeinate

      Honestly even with the flaws this was a compelling read Trish 🙂

  1. Megan

    This one is new to me, but it sounds pretty interesting. I’m still riding the dystopian train, so I might have to try this one.

    Megan recently posted: Review: Sekret
    • kimbacaffeinate

      It will make you think Jessica and like I said nothing is black or white.

    • kimbacaffeinate

      I am glad you added it Rediza. I enjoyed it and look forward to the companion novel.

    • kimbacaffeinate

      I am still enjoying them Finley and hope you like it 🙂

  2. Christy

    I’m glad you enjoyed this one! I read it a few weeks ago and really loved it. I agree that not finding out Evalyn’s crime helped me develop a connection with her and decide for myself whether she was truly evil. Great review!

    Christy recently posted: Four Pics, One Series (4)
    • kimbacaffeinate

      thanks Lauren, I was getting reviewer burn-out and decided to add in caffeinated/decaffeinated, date with a book and wait for..I did a acrostic poem too! That one will debut on Saturday. It really helped me get over that slump and freshen things up. I total recommend this one Lauren!

      • Jessica

        I think it’s great that you’re switching things up. It’s really easy to get in a rut. I think you overcame it fantastically!

        • kimbacaffeinate

          Thank you Jessica, it has made writing reviews fun again 🙂 I will talk about it in my next Caffeinated Confession.

    • kimbacaffeinate

      Hey you know me, I always want answers Nick but this is still a worthy read. Hope you snag it from the library.

    • kimbacaffeinate

      thanks Debbie, yep I am shaking things up around here and mixing up my review styles. LOL

    • kimbacaffeinate

      Nope, I don’t think I have seen you read a dystopian..LOL

    • kimbacaffeinate

      I am hoping it reveals more about how this society came to be and thanks again for the recommendation Liz, I enjoyed this 🙂

    • kimbacaffeinate

      Despite what I mentioned this really was an engaging read Candace 🙂

  3. Mary

    Yeah, despite the rough-around-the-edges writing, I enjoyed this story and am looking forward to the companion novels in this new series. I can’t imagine surviving that kind of trial (or having to go through it — I’m too much of a goodie-goodie!).

    • kimbacaffeinate

      I am too Mary, but it makes you think. Hopefully the novella will shed some light.

  4. Heidi

    I like the sound of a NA dystopian. It is about time they start branching away from the same old same old in this genre. I think even though the pacing hurt character development it is still a good thing as you obviously weren’t bored!

    • kimbacaffeinate

      Right..I was so excited. Yes, this was more plot driven because of it, but I completely lost myself in it. Christy loved this one too 🙂

  5. Tanja

    This sounds like a really great idea, and really unique but honestly a bit scary. I mean it’s twisted in a way. However I don’t like being kept in the dark but I’m glad you enjoyed this one, Kim 🙂

    Tanja recently posted: Waiting on Wednesday (#87)
    • kimbacaffeinate

      With regard to the MC, I think it was the right decision allowing us to connect to her first and form an opinion, with the world itself I wanted more deets.

    • kimbacaffeinate

      This would be cool on audio and I bet it adds to the characters since the narrator will add suspense and emotions just by tone.

  6. Melliane

    I love to read dystopians books, it’s so intriguing. It’s nice to discover the world the author presents. I confess I didn’t know this one and I used to read a lot of them but it’s been a while now. I should try again.

    • kimbacaffeinate

      It was fast paced Melliane and made you think. I was engaged and recommend it

    • kimbacaffeinate

      We got enough that I didn’t feel lost Pam, but I am really hoping the companion book fills in the how.

    • kimbacaffeinate

      I agree, while I wanted more I couldn’t put it down! thanks Dre 🙂

    • kimbacaffeinate

      Its not perfect but it did keep me engaged, thanks and I hope we see more genres in NA.

  7. Braine Talk Supe

    I have a feeling her writing will be more fluid in the second book. Although awkward sentences could be distracting especially in fantasy novels like this. At least you still enjoyed it somehow

    • kimbacaffeinate

      That is what I am hoping, and as I said I enjoyed this one 🙂

    • kimbacaffeinate

      I enjoyed this Melissa and am excited about the second book

    • kimbacaffeinate

      thanks Kay, I am mixing up my review formats so you will see these again. I really enjoyed this and look forward to the companion novel

  8. Christy

    You already know that I enjoyed this one. 😀 I didn’t get much from the throw away characters, but once it got down to … you know, those 5, then I really connected with them. Especially Valarie. <3 I'm definitely looking forward to the next book.

    Christy recently posted: Wallbanger by Alice Clayton
    • kimbacaffeinate

      Valarie was cool and yep I cannot wait for the next book!

    • kimbacaffeinate

      I hope you try in Lauren, I really enjoyed it 🙂

  9. Lorna

    This sounds really interesting. I am one of those people that haven’t read the Hunger Games, mainly because the idea of children killing children just upsets me. But this sounds like it would make for a good movie too-one that I would watch! Good review!

    Lorna recently posted: Question: Do You Ever Forget?
  10. Lindy

    I’ve been eyeing this book! I think this will be a pass for me. I’m glad you enjoyed it overall, and that the story was suspenseful, while the romance and characters were interesting. However, character driven stories are my favorite. Thanks for your honest review Kim 🙂

    • kimbacaffeinate

      I understand, but this was one heck of a ride. 🙂