In a not-too-distant future, humanity has developed the technology to see inside the mind of criminals. Through simulations and tracking responses, the law claims to have the ability to measure motivation and “goodness.”
Evalyn Ibarra says she is guilty, but not of the crime she is on trial for. Rather than rely on a jury to prove her innocence, she chooses the “compass room,” the new technology, to prove her innocence.
If she is truly evil, the compass room will kill her. If she is innocent, she will walk free.
“My throat tightens, but there is no time to reflect. I had months to imagine this moment, months to mourn. That time is over, because today is the beginning of my inevitable execution in the Compass Room.”pg 7, ebook.
I found the premise of this book to be interesting, but it suffered in its execution and characterizations. Both were rather flat.
“The tension after Stella leaves is awkward and volatile. … We’ve been given provisions, so it’s obvious that, if this is the Compass Room, we are meant to head out. It’s either that or stay in a house full of psychopaths.” pg 25, ebook.
Did I mention that the compass room tries more than one criminal at a time? Very Hunger Games-esque.
“The one thing I do know about the Compass Room is that this test is supposed to see who you truly are, despite your research. Despite good acting or the lies you tell yourself.” pg 27, ebook.
Wouldn’t it be something if detecting evil was as simple as marking a chemical or hormonal response of the brain?
But then, of course, you wander into the problem: what if the technology gets it wrong? Or glitches?
“A terrorist attack finally convinced the Supreme Court. All charged in the bombing were forced to undergo the Compass Room’s exam. And they were all found to be, as reporters said on the news, ‘morally tarnished.'” pg 12, ebook.
The thing about execution is that there are no second chances or second guesses. Evalyn believes herself to be innocent. Will the room think so too?
I think if the author had fully explored the compass room and the psyches of those involved, I may have enjoyed it more.
As it was, I felt like we only skimmed the surface of what was possible. It lacked complexity because of the number of characters she wrote into the story.
Also, the author includes some half-baked romances, perhaps to prove this is in the “new adult” genre? I don’t believe it added much.
There’s also some non-spooky horror elements, that are meant to evoke the harrowing nature of the compass room. They felt overdone.
If you must read The Wicked We Have Done, I recommend borrowing it from the library.
Thanks for reading!