Review: Wicked by Jennifer L. Armentrout

22895264Wicked by Jennifer L. Armentrout (A Wicked Saga #1)

Genre: Paranormal Romance, New Adult

Publisher: Self Published

Source: Purchased

Rating StarRating StarRating Starstar_half

Things are about to get Wicked in New Orleans.

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Let’s talk about guilty pleasures. Sometimes you really like things despite knowing they’re not exactly quality. For instance, my deep and abiding love for macaroni and cheese (white, not orange) from the box. It’s got very little nutritional value and it kinda makes me question my priorities, but I still love it.

This is essentially how I feel about Jennifer L. Armentrout’s books.

Wicked follows the pattern of many of her previous works: special snowflake sassy girl who doesn’t know how special – or gorgeous, of course – she is must fight the forces of darkness with a sexy broody guy and her friends. I feel kind of embarrassed just writing that out, honestly.

But oh well! I embrace my guilty pleasures wholeheartedly in the knowledge that I only binge on them occasionally.

Ivy is a very typical JLA heroine: she’s smart, she’s sassy, she’s gorgeous – but doesn’t know it! – and most importantly, she’s not like other girls. I’ve always wondered: what is the issue with these other girls? Who are they girls and why are we supposed to judge them? Maybe they know how gorgeous they are. How dare they!

Anyway.

Despite Ivy’s admittedly cliché characteristics, I still really enjoyed her as a narrator. She’s snarky and witty, and I admired her willingness to always be the first through the door when confronting dangerous situations. Admittedly this may not be the best strategical decision for her, as she comes up against some Fae who can seriously whoop her but. Her backstory also adds some emotional weight to the story, as we learn about the death of her family and boyfriend…and why she feels culpable.

Her attempt at penance is to work her way through the ranks of the Order, a covert organization of Fae killers who patrol North America. Ivy’s location in New Orleans means that she encounters more Fae than most, since the vibrant and dangerous city attracts so many bizarre tourist attractions that they can easily blend. Very few people seem to notice the Fae duking it out with a young woman carrying a stake…it’s very Buffy and I loved it. Ivy’s feeling pretty good about her badassery when she stumbles upon a Fae who can’t be killed with a stake, one who has powers beyond the scope of ordinary Fae and seems to have a much greater agenda. Who is he and why is here? What are the Fae planning?

One of my biggest pet peeves in YA is the virgin/whore dichotomy that inevitably rears its head in JLA’s books. Ivy’s best friend Val fills the latter role, seemingly hooking up with every boy who crosses her path while Ivy remains celibate. In her defense, JLA does seem to have moved on from the super uncomfortable slut shaming that occurs in some of her other series: Ivy isn’t all that judgmental of Val but rather seems bemused by her antics. That said it would be nice if we got to a place where we don’t spend quite so much page time discussing how “boy crazy” certain characters are. Maybe this was discussed so frequently because Wicked is heavy on the romance, but I still found it annoying.

The romance was by the far the most successful element of Wicked – it was fun and steamy, and for once we got to meet a bad boy who wasn’t a complete jerk. Ivy is just doing her thing with the Order, prowling around the mean streets of New Orleans with her stake and trying to live life with very few emotional attachments when Ren comes along and busts down all those walls. He was very blunt about his attraction to Ivy and managed to pull off being a bit more sexually aggressive without being a creeper about it. Personally I appreciated this because rather than making her guess what he’s after and how he’s feeling, Ren straight up tells her that he wants to date her and sex her up. He slowly seduces Ivy body and soul and it’s awesome. I’m intrigued to see where it goes in the sequel because as anyone who’s read it knows, changes are afoot…

Ultimately the characters in Wicked are what made me enjoy it so much, and their snappy dialogue helped me speed through this one in two sittings. Madness! A particular favourite of mine was Tink, Ivy’s live-in brownie friend. While he’s technically a Fae creature he’s not on their side…he’s a little too preoccupied with Harry Potter marathons and collecting troll dolls. Hilarious perfection.

If you’ve read any of Jennifer L. Armentrout’s past work and enjoyed it, Wicked is for you. It’s got the same snarky humour and punchy dialogue that we know and love while improving on some of the stumbling blocks in her past work. Brilliant writing it is not, but Wicked is a perfect choice for those in need a fluffy pick me up book or something simple and fun to pull you out of a slump.

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