Let me start by saying that I’ve read a few NA novels and all of them disappointed me; the romance, the guy who the main character loves, even though he’s a clear psycho, and the angst and drama about every little thing….it drove me insane. I’m still not sure what NA is, since it seems like YA with tons of sex and abusive guys, but I think it’s starting to find its footing. Hopefully.
So when I heard of ‘The Wicked We Have Done,’ I was excited. Here’s a NA book that seems to be more about the story instead of the angsty romance. And for the most part, it delivered on this point. I like the concept of criminals fighting in a system that judges ones morality. Do these group of misfits have what it takes to prove to themselves and the world that they’ve truly repented?
Enter the Compass Room. It’s a new simulation type room that will ‘test’ the inmates and mess them up psychologically. They’ll have to relieve their crimes and face what they’ve done. If they can do this for three months and show a level of change, then, and only then, can they be released and enter a bright new future.
All this sounds amazing and the concept is a good one, but in terms of execution I feel like things fell short of my expectations. There is a lot of action, which I liked, and the romance did make sense even though it involved insta-love. Granted, I still rolled my eyes when the Evalyn and Casey proclaimed their love for one another, but I understood where they were coming from. If you’re in a life or death situation and you’re with someone you’re attracted to, feelings are obviously going to blossom. The fun part is when you both survive and re-enter normal society, because then you start to realize that you have nothing in common with the person you ‘love.’ You also realize that you don’t really know anything about him and he knows nothing about you. Even more disheartening, you slowly realize that you’re not even sure if you truly love them…..
I don’t know what happens next, but in terms of the romance we’re only at the first stage so it made sense to me.
The thing I didn’t like was how I never felt connected to the Compass Room or the world that Harian created. I’m assuming this is set in the near future, but if our society is able to create a Compass Room, then that means that people don’t feel safe. Perhaps the citizens feel like criminals are being released way too easily or good innocent people are being placed in jail with no justification. None of this is really explained, so it’s only my speculation, but I feel that if a society needs the Compass Room then there should be cameras at every corner. If people don’t feel safe, then security and spying would be the norm. The Compass Room and its tests seemed odd to me too.
I also don’t really get Evalyn. We’re meant to sympathize with her character and feel like she isn’t a true murderer because she murdered out of love, but I couldn’t see it. I’m venturing into spoiler territory, so forgive me for a moment. To view the spoilers, just highlight the text below.
[I feel like if someone threaten someone close to me and did what Nick did to Meghan. I wouldn’t have done what Evalyn did. Nick gave Evalyn a gun and told her to kill a bunch of teachers and only then he’ll release Meghan. If I was in Evalyn’s shoes, I’d humour Nick and then bust a cap in his kneecap and a few other choice places. Then I’d die in a blazing glory once Nick’s men try to kill me. But for Evalyn to go along with the plan even though she knows how Nick is…I just don’t understand how she could trust him.]
She’s still a murderer though and not a remorseful one either. Which begs the question, how does the Compass Room judge ones morality when it’s clear that Evalyn isn’t sorry for what she did. She’s sorry Meghan died, but I never saw her feel bad about what she did. The families she destroyed and the lives she’s ruined.
Some of the criminals in the Compass Room with her also show no remorse, but others shouldn’t have been placed there to begin with. I may not know a lot about law and being a lawyer, but I did take one course back in high school and I watch a lot of Discovery Investigations and from my understanding, some of these ‘criminals’ would have gotten a pardon or community service. What they did was horrible, but people have been let go for much worse. I mean, one time in law class (back in high school) our teacher made us watch this one case where a man murdered his wife and her friend after they refused to have a threesome with him. He was pardoned. And in Discovery ID, there was a guy who killed his twin brother and was pardoned because they said that after years of abused he was like an abused wife. It was either him or his twin and he decided to fight, even though his twin (at the time) didn’t intend to fight back.
So some of the characters that were admitted jailed didn’t make sense to me, because I kept thinking “With a better lawyer…” And well, you get the picture. I don’t deny that murder is murder, but I feel like killing an abusive parent or a bully is much different than killing a bunch of teachers or being a serial rapist/torturer. I get that this was meant to make use question, “Which life is more important?” But I kept thinking, “Who has a longer list of people they’ve screwed over?”
Overall: The concept is a good one, but I wish the world building and characters were fleshed out a bit more. The ending did seem interesting, so I’ll probably read the next book. One thing I will say is that I’m glad that NA is moving past what it initially started as. I think this genre needs more books like this, so I’m glad to read it for that. This is the best NA novel I’ve read, but it still wasn’t that good unfortunately.
- Jera’s Jamboree review : The Wicked We Have Done by Sarah Harian(jerasjamboree.com)
- The Wicked We Have Done – Sarah Harian (ponderingink.wordpress.com)
- Book Review: THE WICKED WE HAVE DONE by Sarah Harian (avajae.blogspot.ca)
- ARC Review: The Wicked We Have Done by Sarah Harian (tangledinpages.blogspot.ca)