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Thursday, March 20, 2014

The Wicked We Have Done by Sarah Harian (Review & Interview)

Title: The Wicked We Have Done
Series: Chaos Theory #1
Author: Sarah Harian
Published: March 18, 2013 - Penguin/Intermix
Format: Egalley

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.

The Wicked We Have Done by Sarah Harian blew me away.  I loved everything about this book!  There were so many fantastic aspects to this book, I'm not even sure where to start.

It starts at the sentencing of Evalyn, a yound twenty-something in the future.  We learn that she's murdered,
and it's hinted that she might be a mass murderer, even.  That right there is pretty unique for a female of this age.  Her sentence is to do a round in The Compass Room.  There is a lot of secrecy involving The Compass Room, but what we do learn right away is that it is some sort of moral compass, that it will ultimately judge you.  If you are guilty, it will kill you immediately.  It doesn't make a difference what your crime is, but this new technology will be able to judge whether you are actually guilty at heart.  As for Evalyn, herself?  I liked her.  She's calm and sort of just accepting of her new, albeit short, future.  She's certain she will die in the Compass Room.

I should have grown a clue then.  I should have realized that gut feeling doesn't screw around when dealing with someone you care so much about.  But at the time, I was hoping she was right.  I was hoping to God she was right.  But she wasn't, because Nick new the truth.  The world is saturated in chaos. 

To me, this book felt like Hunger Games meets The Cube, with a great big dash of Stephen King.  It was creepy and eerie, and a bit gory at times.  I felt it was totally unexpected, and it continually caught me off guard.  I really couldn't put it down!  There are some flashbacks to tell Evalyn's backstory, and then there are sort of vision/hallucination type things that confront the inmates in The Compass Room.

Evalyn enters The Compass Room with several other guilty inmates, whose crimes range from torture to rape to self defense.  And all of the crimes end in murder.  There are some characters I really liked, like Casey and Jace.  I held out hope that my favorites would all survive the Compass Room.  Whether they did or not is for you to find out for yourself.  But as statistics go, only 2.5 people will survive.  This book takes place out in the forest, and it really lends itself well to the creepy factor.  You don't know what's around every bend, behind every tree.

Sarah Harian's writing is terrific.  I was instantly drawn into this world she created. I found this book to be wildly imaginative and exciting.  It was a quick ride, and I couldn't help but tell my friends about the book I was reading.  There is another book coming out, Vault of Sins, which comes out this fall.  I am definitely waiting for that!  The Wicked We Have Done is a roller coaster of joy, misery, hope and despair - even with a touch of heat and romance thrown in.  I loved it, and I'm sure you will too!

Fictional Candy

Hi Sarah!  It’s so nice to meet you! Thank you for joining me today!
         So this past weekend I read The Wicked We Have Done, and I absolutely loved it.   If you had just three sentences to describe this book to someone, what would you say?

This book is about a girl named Evalyn that goes through an insane obstacle course to prove that, even though she was convicted of terrorism, she isn’t an evil person. The obstacle course/prison revives the crimes of the inmates in a horrific way, and while Evalyn is fighting the system to survive, she’s also making friends and alliances with the other inmates. Soon their lives become as important to her as her own. 

         This world you’ve created is pretty interesting!  How did you create it and flesh out the Compass Room?

I had a fortunate advantage writing in first person. Evalyn doesn’t know a lot about the Compass Rooms; the whole WTF factor the inmates’ experience plays into how they are judged. Because of this, the Compass Room is built from her eyes out in a what-you-see-is-what-you-get manner. I wanted her to find the Compass Room enigmatic and scary as hell because of its unpredictability. That’s what makes the book so exciting. Also from my experience, I know how terrifying and unpredictable wilderness is, and also how it sparks people to turn to their primal side. I knew I wanted this book based in the woods before I even knew what the book was about.

         Were there any real life inspirations for any of your characters?

Absolutely none! I don’t think I’ve ever based a character off a real person.

         Some people do die in this book, but my question to you is were any of their deaths hard for you?  Or harder than others? 

All of the deaths were pretty hard for me. Some were definitely harder than others simply because of my own attachment to them, or my attachment to characters who were affected by their deaths.
But it was even hard for me to write the deaths of evil characters. I knew it had to happen but I didn’t feel vindictive writing them off.

      I see book two in the Chaos Theory series is called Vault of Sins, but I don’t see a blurb for it yet.  Is there any info you can share with us on this book?

A Vault of Sins is about making hard choices. It’s also about taking responsibility for things that you don’t necessarily have to take responsibility for. Society has really screwed Evalyn over, and she has to decide if it’s worth fighting for what’s right in terms of exposing the use and purpose of the Compass Rooms.

      In The Wicked We Have Done, you deal with some pretty dark topics.  Is this blend of horror, thriller, and even a bit of sci-fi, a favorite genre of yours to read also?  Do you have any favorites?
You know, I read a lot of speculative fiction. I like darker stuff, but I also like your typical hero-saves-the-day conflicts like Harry Potter and The Hobbit. A good, dark book that I read recently was The Waking Dark by Robin Wasserman. It was fantastic.

       Are there any other genres you would like to write?

I write fantasy. I love it. My fantasy is a lot different from the Chaos Theory series. The Wicked We Have Done is definitely about the characters and their motivation within the moment versus my fantasy projects that are more about the characters trying to shift the world at large. The pace is a lot slower and the world-building is more detailed.

        Your book is one I think would make an awesome movie.  If this were to happen, do you have a dream-cast of any of the characters in mind?

Actually I have been thinking about this a lot (I mean what author doesn’t?) and I am SO PICKY about actors fitting the roles of specific characters that I haven’t really found anyone to specifically match my characters. I just picture them all so vividly in my head that no actor or actress really adds up. I have faith in the universe though, and if it is made into a movie, I know the perfect cast would be found. J

·         If you weren’t an author and money were of no concern, what do you think a dream job of yours would be?
I am an artist at heart. I used to act and sing, so if money wasn’t a concern, maybe I would get back into performing.

      What’s a day in the life of Sarah Harian like?

ANGSTING. Just kidding (not kidding). I took a year off from my day job, so right now on days my husband has to work, I wake up, walk my dog, make food, and buckle down with writing. I write the whole day with a few food/sanity breaks in between. I’m trying to do this as much as I can before I go back to teaching.

      Do you have a favorite book that you find yourself recommending to others often?  And if so, why?

I recommend The Magicians by Lev Grossman to everyone and their mother because of how it pushes boundaries with characters and world-building. It’s like Harry Potter with college-aged characters who are really screwed up. It seems like it’s one of those books that people either love or hate.

And a little bit of This or That:
        Evalyn’s place in The Compass Room or a zombie bite?

Evalyn’s place in the CR for sure. I hate zombies, and I would certainly hate BEING one.

      City or country?

       Ten million dollars or ten extra years?
Extra ten years

         Sweet or Sour?

         Main course or Dessert?
Main course! Although it really depends on what is served for both ;)

Thanks for chatting with me today!  It’s been awesome getting to know you!  I can’t wait to read A Vault of Sins!