Saturday, March 15, 2014

Blog Tour: Guest Post & Review: The Wicked We Have Done (Chaos Theory #1) by Sarah Harian

I am very happy to be participating in the Wicked We Have Done Blog Tour today! The Wicked We Have Done is the first in Chaos Theory series from author Sarah Harian. This was my first novel from Harian and I'm excited to share the book trailer and some words from the author along with my thoughts on the book with you.

The Wicked We Have Done by Sarah Harian
The blurb as seen on Goodreads:
Release Date: March 18, 2014
Publisher: InterMix
272 Pages

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.

For writing a book with a ton of killing in it, I had a very hard time constructing death scenes.
Maybe this is because the process of dying is so sacred to me. It is something that happens to everyone, yet no one knows what it feels like.  It is unreal and enigmatic and peaceful and scary as hell all at once. 

On top of death being so complicated, writing death for a novel with horror elements is a lot different than any other type of story. The characters experience death so often at such a rapid rate, their perception of death has become skewed in comparison to someone living a tragedy-less life. 

So how do I balance this?

When writing The Wicked We Have Done, it was uncomfortable even imagining the emotions that my characters were feeling every time they experienced death. While they were hardened, they still had to be emotionally affected. Some would panic. Some would start to slowly go crazy. Others would hold it all inside until they reached their tipping point, when they would break down. Every death scene was emotionally exhausting for me. I would have to gauge how I felt about this character dying, and then re-evaluate it through the lens of my narrator, Evalyn, who wasn’t numb to death, but perceived it differently than me. 

I don’t think one death scene was harder than the others. All of them required the same amount of effort. Even evil characters and characters my narrator wasn’t close with were still difficult to kill off because of the horror and uncertainty their deaths would give characters that were still alive. They begin to think, I could die this way. What if I’m next?

“Don’t leave me tonight,” says Jace. “Neither of you.”

“I wouldn’t dream of it.” I reach over her and take Casey’s hand. Tanner will stay on guard with Valerie tonight, and even if we invited Stella inside the tent, she’d refuse, so we don’t bother.

“What do you think death will be like?” Jace murmurs.

Casey squeezes my hand. It’s like he knows that my mind reverts to the moment when we were waiting for death. I was so sure that every breath I took was going to be my last. It was the first time in a while that I thought about what would happen after my heart stopped beating.

Casey is the first to speak. “When the lodge lit on fire, I thought we had already died.”

“I don’t think hell will care about testing us,” Jace says.

“You believe in hell?” he asks her.

She thinks for a long, hard moment. “No. I believe in finding redemption, even after death. Somehow.”

That word again. Redemption.

“Evalyn?” Jace asks.

I don’t have the heart to tell her that my jaded mind can’t wrap around anything other than death being an infinite nothing—suffocating blackness. But I try to imagine for her. I try to play make-believe, like I used to when I thought of joining Meghan. “Death will be like floating on your back in the cleanest water you can think of beneath a hot sun. Nothing to worry about. Nothing to have a broken heart over. No one to lose.”

“Alone?” Jace asks.

“Yes. Alone.”

Casey squeezes my hand even tighter. Jace is right. Cycling through love is like wash, rinse, repeat. Falling for anyone now is as pointless as believing I would have Liam forever.

Nothing is forever except the loneliness.

Chaos theory simply noted the existence of disorder within an obedient system

The Wicked We Have Done was kind of a Hunger Games meets Lost. It was definitely a new take on the NA genre and honestly, I was quite ready for this change. Extremely gritty, this book throws you into a world where the government, instead of handing out the death penalty, puts convicted criminals in a controlled testing field to test their innocence – or so to say. 

Evalyn has been convicted of a serious crime and is selected to be a candidate for the compass room – a room designed to test whether the person is inherently evil or not. If the room decides you’re guilty, you don’t make it out. If the room judges your moral compass in a positive light, you’re allowed to leave and are freed of all your charges. Once selected, Evalyn finds herself amongst nine other criminals with crimes that are just as heinous.  

Wicked does an interesting job of questioning the legal system and asking that age old question “what if they aren’t evil?”. No one in this room is denying they committed their crimes, but do they deserve to die for it? This was a question I asked myself throughout the whole book because we don’t get everyone’s story right away. And it was especially tough with Evalyn because of the level of horrible her crime was. 

The writing was smart and quick, giving us just enough to move on but not enough to pass our own judgment. This also being NA, I felt the level of horror was stepped up with descriptions such as:

I don’t even think twice when I drag the coil of intestine off her chest and press my ear to her soaked shirt, blood squelching beneath my head.

There’s loss and pain and the system isn’t as perfect as the government wants you to believe. The ending sums up this book just fine but leaves you wanting to continue just to see if justice will truly be served. Definitely a pleasant surprise and one I did not expect going in.
Big thanks to Sarah for the lovely post, and to Jessica from Berkeley/NAL Publishing  for asking me to partake in this tour! 

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