While it might not come out as the most successful novel of the genre, The Wicked We Have Done is definitely a genre-bending story for New Adult fans. On the other hand, in terms of a futuristic/science fiction/survival novel, I think I’ve read most of its storyline many times already. Comparisons have been drawn between The Hunger Games and The Wicked We Have Done(certain others have also been thrown in the mix, but THG remains the principal comparison), but personally, I don’t see many similarities. For sure, there is the inclusion of arena and survival facets endemic to both; however, these days, it’s almost become the prerequisites for the genre, and frankly, I’ve been overlooking it for a while.
Despite being unoriginal, TWWHD also has the concept of the Compass Room which I found captivating- in fact, the story is built around it. Yet, here I found a caveat as well, because the concept had potential not fully realized in its execution. The Compass Room is a newly introduced method of finding and exonerating the accidental criminals-a purge, if you will, to separate the true criminals, the ones with the kill gene(yet again!) who had the intention, the will to kill/harm from the ones who were coerced into it, or committed under effects, temporary insanity whatever… The Kill Gene concept is not one that I endorse; in fact, I pretty much hate it. However, the kill gene was mentioned once- to trace the origin of the Compass Room and its history. Thankfully, The Wicked We Have Done never tried to tango with the nature v/s nurture debate. Criminals are judged based on their true response to simulations such as facing their victims. But when it happened for real, I actually found it a tad ridiculous. Just a tad.
But don’t be confused, The Wicked We Have Done is foremost a group-survival novel, with criminal characters meeting up in the Compass Room and trying to survive the truly psychopathic criminals. Sure it’ll make one ponder for a while-when you meet a girl who accidentally burned down her boyfriend’s house and killed his family, while trying to commit suicide-using circumstances over actual questions, letting the story speak for itself and that’s about it. Which, for me, was a pro.
Another aspect in its favor is the litany of well-developed characters-sure, some of them don’t stand out much, including our protagonist, Evalyn, but there are some like Valerie who left an impression. The reluctant and/or circumstantial and/or definite relationships that evolved between them was believable and necessary. On the other hand, the chemistry between Evalyn and the romantic lead didn’t leave a heart-burn. As individuals, they’re both thought out characters, but together, the beginning of the romance started out in my good graces, but it never sparked for me.
It’s not exactly thrilling, but the pacing is fast enough not to bore readers. The writing, however, needs another round of editing not only because there were mistakes at times, but also many a time, sentence structures were simply awkward. The world-building was lacking, but this insufficiency was hardly felt as the story was limited within the Compass Room and its characters inter-personal ships and happenings.
Time for the unmentionable: I hated how easily Evalyn’s crimes were brushed off, and in the manner that they were. For the greater part of novel, it seemed that Evalyn hadn’t actually accepted her hand in the crimes and the narratives from the past appeared hell-bent on redeeming her. But I did think that Evalyn had reconciled with her guilt in some small corner. And yet, once the guy says- we both did it for love- or some variation, everyone, from Evalyn to the author, brushed off her crimes. I think the reader was expected to as well. And that is what I can’t reconcile with. The guy’s crime, killing and burying his father, I accepted because I’m fucking biased that way against super-abusive fathers but not hers. Which leads me to believe I could never, never write up a Constitution for a non-autocratic country. Hell, even repressed subjects of an autocratic regime wouldn’t accept my varying, whim-of-mine laws.
In summation, it was a good book, there were drawbacks; for a fast read with characters you can root for, for a read that doesn’t prod your limitation of emotion, go for The Wicked We Have Done. I’m gonna continue with the series, especially what is to come is going to be very, very delicious and give us more info on the world.
Thank you Penguin Group!