Review: Wicked by Jennifer L. Armentrout

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

Genre: PNR, NEW ADULT

Publisher: Self Published

Source: Bought (ebook)

Rating StarRating StarRating Starstar_half

Things are about to get Wicked in New Orleans.

Twenty-two year old Ivy Morgan isn’t your average college student. She, and others like her, know humans aren’t the only thing trolling the French Quarter for fun… and for food. Her duty to the Order is her life. After all, four years ago, she lost everything at the hands of the creatures she’d sworn to hunt, tearing her world and her heart apart.

Ren Owens is the last person Ivy expected to enter her rigidly controlled life. He’s six feet and three inches of temptation and swoon-inducing charm. With forest-green eyes and a smile that’s surely left a stream of broken hearts in its wake, he has an uncanny, almost unnatural ability to make her yearn for everything he has to offer. But letting him in is as dangerous as hunting the cold-blooded killers stalking the streets. Losing the boy she loved once before had nearly destroyed her, but the sparking tension that grows between them becomes impossible for Ivy to deny. Deep down, she wants… she needs more than what her duty demands of her, what her past has shaped for her.

But as Ivy grows closer to Ren, she realizes she’s not the only one carrying secrets that could shatter the frail bond between them. There’s something he’s not telling her, and one thing is for certain. She’s no longer sure what is more dangerous to her—the ancient beings threatening to take over the town or the man demanding to lay claim to her heart and her soul.

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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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  • I’ve honestly never read one of her books. She seems to write so many and none of them struck me as must read. Maybe I’ll give this one a try considering its pnr and new adult which I don’t really read either one but I’m trying to break outside my comfort zone a tiny smidge this year. Lol special snowflake…all her heroines on the psst have been typically the same huh? Some people like the same formulaic stories and characters over and over again. It’s life you said a comfort book where you know what you’re going to get.

    • Whaaat?? She’s been so popular in the blogging community! Admittedly I preferred this one to her YA books – I thought it was less problematic with the cliches and I didn’t mind the sexiness 😉

      Special snowflakes are a dime a dozen for JLA…and for most authors! You’ve described it perfectly: sometimes you just need something that’s fun and expected. That way it’s easy to relax and enjoy without worrying that it’ll be terrible or heartbreakingly good.

  • Amen. I’ll probably read everything she writes because it’s fun and doesn’t make my head hurt.
    Gah, this virgin/whore thing… Why are these the only two options here? Well, Ivy is a bit better than her YA characters, but still.
    I didn’t know it was self-published, though!

    • Truer words have not been written! She’s got a whole paranormal series set in boarding school (boarding school!!) and I admit that I’m weirdly drawn to those kinds of settings. I may need to explore that one next.

      PREACH! One day I’ll read a snarky, sexy, banter-filled novel for new/young adults and there will be no virgin/whore dichotomy…and it will be a beautiful thing. She’s been pretty successful with self publishing in the past – I want to say that this is her second self-pubbed project? Maybe her third.

      • Weeelll… I tried out that Covenant series (with the boarding school) and it sounded painfully similar to Vampire Academy, so I stopped. I know that she has a NA spinoff coming in Feb, and I’ll be giving it a try.

        By the way, I’m starting this “Author Addiction” feature with Becky from A Fool’s Ingenuity and it’s basically fangirling over authors. The chosen author for February is Armentrout and our posts go live on Feb 2 if you’re interested in joining us. We’re doing Sarah J. Maas for March, I think. The whole thing is still pretty vague, but I like that we’re looking at authors, not just books.

        • Oh no! That’s the worst…

          WHAT that sounds amazing! I actually need to catch up on books 2 and 3 of the Throne of Glass series, so you better believe I will be participating!

  • Lynn Williams

    Yeah, in my book it’s time to embrace the guilty pleasures. In fairness I probably won’t read this particular book because you’ve only given it 3.5 which might be okay but it just means it’s not awesome and I’m all about the awesome sauce!!
    I was reading a really good guest post on Chuck Wendig’s blog which basically said why feel guilty about something you enjoy!! What a good point. Burn for Me – so good, and, now, no guilt whatsoever!! Such excellent words of wisdom and I intend to take them to heart.
    Lynn 😀

    • Completely agree, what’s the harm in guilty pleasures?! Awesome sauce books are where it’s at, no doubt! YES I AGREE! When I was reading Burn For Me I felt very awkward and embarrassed reading it in public, but like…why? If people judge me because of the cover art then I don’t want to be friends with them anyway. I’m tired of feeling like I need to justify my book choices to others…yes, I do read PNR and historical romances. Deal with it!!!

      • Lynn Williams

        haha – indeed. Know what you mean though about people judging you in public. We’ll have to start taking a comic book out with us so we can hide our book inside! Nobody would judge us for a reading a comic book, right?

  • Lisa (@TenaciousReader)

    I love snarky pick me up books sometimes 🙂 Also, maybe I should know this, but I’m always curious what is meant by ‘New Adult’

    • The winter is definitely the ideal time for snarky pick me up books…that and summer time, of course! Preferably at the beach (but far back from the water). Ahhh yes, New Adult. I won’t lie, you’re not missing too much there – it’s basically an emerging genre with characters older than YA but younger than fully grown adults, usually 18-24. That in and of itself isn’t bad but for some reason most of the contemporary NA books out there are suuuper angsty!

  • I’ve mostly written JLA off of late, b/c as much as I loved Lux and Covenant, her more recent stuff hasn’t work for me very well, but yeah, I think you may be right–this sounds like her older stuff. Will def. have to check out 😉