Friday, February 27, 2015

Review: The Wicked We Have Done

The Wicked We Have Done by Sarah Harian
This dystopian thriller follows Evalyn Ibarra, a 22 year old college student accused of joining a terrorist movement and executing an attack on campus. In Evalyn's world, the government has just finished beta testing a revolutionary system called The Compass Room. The purpose of the room is to take a group of people who have committed atrocious crimes and run them through trials until the room decides whether they are morally redeemable or not. 

When faced with the option of a long trial or entering the Compass Room, Evalyn chooses the latter, deciding it would be better for everyone if her life were to end quickly in the room. There are 9 other criminals going into the room with her, all convicted for a myriad of crimes, from the systematic kidnap and torture of dozens of teens, to rape, murder and even patricide. 

Inside the Compass Room, no one really knows what to expect. Injected with a tracking chip that monitors their brainwaves and their emotional states, each person is faced with horrifying trials as they try to prove they deserve to be one of the ones who makes it out alive in the end. But when the Compass Room starts malfunctioning and arbitrarily deciding who should live and die, Evalyn and her new friends are tested like they never could have imagined. 

After a fairly involved dry spell when it comes to books, the fact that I was able to finish the book in one sitting should suggest all manner of good things about it.  And while there were definitely things I liked about it, I would say that this book certainly isn't for everyone. 

The Good
This book was so fast-paced and constantly moving. You never really had time to be bored, which is always a good thing. It was also really interesting how the author gave us bits and pieces of Evalyn's crime in flashbacks interspersed throughout the present chapters. Also, inside the room, the way that the criminals pasts were brought back to haunt them was a really nice, creepy effect. The romance, while not quite as well thought out and developed as I'd have liked, was satisfying. 

The Bad
It might have been too fast-paced. While I appreciate that thrillers should move at a brisk pace, the author failed to really give us enough story to care about any of the characters. Sure, we got information on why they were in there, and the reasons their crimes were "justified", but you weren't given enough space to really connect with anyone. It was just constant movement, and I wish that the story had been more fleshed out. 

Another reason that it was hard to connect with the characters is the way they were dumped on us in the beginning. All 9 of the other criminals are given character descriptions and the descriptions of their crimes in the span of two pages. I was constantly having to flip back to remind myself of who had done what. 

The writing was a little stilted at times, but for a debut author, it was pretty impressive. I was left with the impression that after a few books under belt, Harian might be an author to look out for. All in all, this book was far from the best in its genre, but also nowhere near the worst. The sequel, A Vault of Sins, is already available for download.