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.