How We Became Wicked
Atheneum Books/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books
Published June 23, 2019
A plague, called Wicked, is pulsing through the world; and in its wake, it’s dividing the population into thirds:
The WICKED: Already infected by the droves of Singers, the ultraviolet mosquito-like insects who carry the plague, the Wicked roam the world freely. They don’t want for much—only to maim and dismember you. But don’t worry: They always ask politely first.
The TRUE: The True live in contained, isolated communities. They’re the lucky ones; they found safety from the Singers. And while the threat of the Wicked may not be eliminated, for the True, the threat has certainly been contained…
The VEXED: The Vexed are the truly fortunate ones—they survived the sting of the Singers, leaving them immune. But they’re far from safe. The Vexed hold the key to a cure, and there are those who will do anything to get it.
This book is sooooo creepy! The Wicked say some really violent things but in this cheerful, artless, innocent way. The juxtaposition of those two things gave me chills in lots of scenes.
HOW WE BECAME WICKED is told in two different viewpoints, from characters in two different situations that don’t, at first, overlap. One section follows Astrid’s point-of-view.
Astrid isn’t a super girly heroine. She’s very smart and practical, and almost detached from her emotions. I liked her, but sometimes that detached feeling kind of kept me from feeling like I understood or empathized with her. Astrid is the town leader’s daughter. She’s got an Ariel complex– you know, wants to be part of someone else’s world. Mainly she wants to escape the walls of her town and go somewhere else, find other True survivors.
The other point-of-view is Natalie’s. She lives with her parents and Wicked grandfather on an island with a lighthouse, too far from the mainland to be a temptation for other Wicked. The only thing that keeps Natalie and her family safe from her grandfather is the fact that he’s imprisoned inside the lighthouse.
Natalie’s point-of-view was easier to connect with, for me. I liked her courage and her loyalty to her family as well as her quick thinking.
Despite the separate storylines, I found the plot of HOW WE BECAME WICKED to be really easy to follow (And mostly not too predictable. I did guess one major twist, but only shortly before it was revealed.) and nicely paced.
Because of the nature of the Wicked, the story does show some violence. I know I mentioned this already, but it’s very creepy the way they talk about and commit awful violence with this innocent childlike glee. They don’t understand what it is they’re doing, which is one of the things that makes them so dangerous.
If you liked THE FOREST OF HANDS AND TEETH by Carrie Ryan, definitely check out HOW WE BECAME WICKED. (Also, if you like zombie or post-apocalyptic stories, go read THE FOREST OF HANDS AND TEETH because it is awesome!)
Recommended for Ages 14 up.
Main characters are white.
Profanity/Crude Language Content
Extreme profanity used not very frequently.
A brief, unwelcome kiss from a boy to a girl (he immediately apologizes for misinterpreting the situation). Some references to past intimacy between Astrid and Hank (the only two teens in their settlement).
The Wicked turn violent and talk about the violent things they want to do. They don’t seem to have any grid for the awfulness of what they’re saying. Wicked characters try to murder others using a wrench, guns, knives, a tank, and other items. There are some violent descriptions. They’re usually fairly brief, and more horrible because of the horror of the True witnesses and the Wicked’s inability to understand what they’re doing.
The town plans a celebration which includes drinking champagne.
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