#COYER Review: The Wicked We Have Done (Chaos Theory #1) – Sarah Harian

Posted 28 March, 2014 by Linda @ (un)Conventional Bookworms in Reviews / 18 Comments

#COYER Review: The Wicked We Have Done (Chaos Theory #1) – Sarah HarianThe Wicked We Have Done by Sarah Harian
Series: Chaos Theory #1
Published by Penguin on 18 March 2014
Genres: LGBT, New Adult, Science Fiction
Pages: 272
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley

5 Stars

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

*I received a free ARC of The Wicked We Have Done from Penguin via Netgalley in exchange of an honest review*

The Wicked We Have Done is a chilling and mesmerizing story, taking humanity to the very limit of morality and ethics, filled with uneasy friendships and wrapped up in a pretty ugly and messy parcel. The parcel itself is the story, the relationships, the way the characters are forced together, and the sheer terror of their situation. Five young women and five young men, who would possible have been sentenced to death are rather sent to a the Compass Room, where their moral compass is supposed to be assessed by way of illusions and how the triggers make them feel and think. They all have a chip embedded in their brain, and the fact that the Compass Room is still in the late stages of testing, and only 2.5 of the prisoners make it out alive after one month is not as bad for some of them as a life in prison or the death penalty seems.

I found the whole story of The Wicked We Have Done extremely disturbing, both morally and ethically, because I would really not be happy in a society where computer chips and horrible illusions were used to find out whether a person is guilty of their crime or not, or if they may be guilty of their crime but the chances of them resolving future trouble or problems the same way is to be judged. The readers learn bout each of the characters’ supposed crimes one after the other, and while some of them seem to be guilty as charged, others are a little more difficult to understand fully.

Some reviews I have read compared The Wicked We Have Done to Divergent and The Hunger Games, for me, it is deeper than that, and rather made me think of both The Lord of the Flies and 1984, but only for a short moment. To me, this story stands completely on its own, and I enjoyed the way the overall seemed to be an exposé of modern society, and how we need to look more at the morality and the ethics of our choices. It also showed me that it is important to know the whole story before even trying to judge someone else.

Which brings me to another point, I think that a lot of us are very quick to judge other people, even when we know nothing about them, what motivates their actions, or how they justifies something they do as a means to an end, or self-protection. The Wicked We Have Done showed five characters more than the rest, so the readers got to know Evalyn, Casey, Tanner, Valerie and Jace quite well.

The way the compass room works, and how it is supposed to keep the prisoners on edge is one of the things I found so chilling. It was really as if these people were lab tests, and they were watched and scrutinized throughout their time spent there. The fact that they were also followed through their chips, which read hormonal and emotional changes, made the whole experience quite horrifying. However, to be able to think of the ethics of this, and to maybe also put that in comparison with prisons and the inmates, is something that needs to be done, at least where I live.

Evalyn quickly showed that she cared a lot about other people, which didn’t make sense at all at the beginning of The Wicked We Have Done. She was in prison for a terrorist shooting, where she was the only of the several shooters who survived. However, as the story unfolds, what happened that day becomes clearer, and while Evalyn seems to be able to redeem herself, and is truly growing a lot as a character, there is always a doubt as to who she really is and what she is capable of.

The side characters in The Wicked We Have Done that are a part of the story are pretty well fleshed out, and especially Valerie and Jace made things interesting. Both of them seemed so different at the start, Valerie hard, tough, and ready to do anything to defend herself, while Jace was afraid of everybody, and thought she really deserved to die. Their relationship was slowly unfolding, and they really intrigued me.

I am looking forward to the next book in the Chaos Theory series, because I want to know more about the scientists behind the compass room project, they seem to be very cold and calculating. And while in some ways I can understand the reasoning behind the project and how it happens completely, in other ways, it is so inhumane and filled me with as much despair as the fact that the characters I grew to really enjoy were essentially all killers – and there was no reason at all for me to root for them – even if I really did. So, now I can only recommend The Wicked We Have Done to you as well.

She paused when she was halfway inside. “By the way, tell Liam to try and avoid conversations with Nick that even have the slightest chance of leading to chaos theory. He’s obsessed with it. And it’s annoying.”

I knew hope was futile though. Hope for what? That before I leave, the government will decide to listen to the hippies and this will all disappear? When had the government ever listened to the hippies?

A human mind isn’t simple enough to be damned by a machine. And I will prove it. Somehow.

Lexxie signature (un)Conventional Bookviews



Linda @ (un)Conventional Bookworms

About Linda @ (un)Conventional Bookworms

Linda is an English as foreign language teacher and has a Master's degree in English Language and Literature. She's an avid reader, blogger, compulsive one-clicker and a genre omnivore. Ever since she learnt how to read she has been seen with a book or two in her hands everywhere she goes.

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18 responses to “#COYER Review: The Wicked We Have Done (Chaos Theory #1) – Sarah Harian

  1. What an incredible review, Lexxie!! You just made me very glad that I won this book! *ha* It does sound very intriguing and well-written if the author can make you root for killers. I’ll try to put this one on my schedule sooner rather than later so we can discuss. 🙂

    I’m ‘back’ and it’s going to take me a little bit to get caught up here. You’ve once again been a review machine, my dear! I will be gone on Saturday for the girls’ final competitions, but I hope I can spend some time here tomorrow reading. 😉 I hope you’ve had a lovely week! I’ve missed you so we’ll definitely have to chat so we can get caught up. Have a fabulous Friday! **BIG HUGS**

    • Thank you Brandee *bows* I’m glad you won this book, too, because we definitely need to discuss it!

      YAY for being ‘back’! Did you have fun skiing? I hope the competitions will go really well tomorrow, tell your girls from me that I’ll be cheering for them from here 😀

      I’ve had a pretty good week. Got some of my homework done, but got more assignments, too… But I can see the light at the end of the tunnel now – that BA is winking at me from over there.

      Thanks for stopping by, my dear. I hope your Friday is fantastic, too! *BIG HUGS*

  2. I thought of the movie Minority Report for a second. Finding yourself rooting for killers only to catch yourself sounds like some amazing writing. My brain is about to burst with ethical debates from your review alone! What a trip. I hope you’re on the other side of all those assignments you mentioned or will be soon! Happy Friday, Lexxie!

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    • I can’t remember if I’ve watched Minority Report now, how is that possible?

      Yeah, the ehtical debates can be many, and detailed for this one, Robyn.

      Not completely on the other side of assignments yet, but some of them are actually quite fun to work on 😀

      Thanks for stopping by,!

  3. I totally get where you’re coming from, Lexxie, and I agree that things are rarely black and white. I didn’t object to being made to think about that. What I objected to was the idea that a good person who made a bad decision should be let off the hook entirely. A lot of the characters had excellent and understandable reasons for doing what they did, but, for me anyway, that doesn’t mean they don’t have to face the consequences of those decisions, and that’s what I felt this book was saying.

    I’m glad you liked it, though. I always appreciate a different and well-thought out opinion 😉

    • I don’t think they should get off the hook entirely, either, Jessica, so I agree with you on that point. However, I think the whole compass room is way too cruel to try to figure out who is really guilty and who isn’t! Because some people really do the wrong thing for all the right reasons, and while that doesn’t make it right, it does make it a little bit easier to understand.

      I also come from a continent where there is no death-penalty, so it is not ‘normal’ to me that a government can decide that a criminal can be put to death – no matter how horrific that criminal’s actions have been.

      It would be really interesting to discuss this book with you a bit more, Jessica! I love hearing different opinions as well! That always makes me think, even if they might not make me change my mind 🙂

    • It’s pretty tough reading – but I enjoyed it so much! The ethical points are important to me – when does bad become really bad? And when is it that the government oversteps the bounds?

      There may (or not) be a HEA, though 😉

      Thanks for stopping by, Carmel.

  4. Jennifer K

    I just read this book on netgalley too. I loved the whole premise. And the idea of finally getting a new adult dystopia vs YA. I really enjoyed this book too. Great review.

    • True, the characters are more mature than those in other dystopia novels I’ve read lately 🙂

      Thanks for stopping by, Jennifer.

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