[474]: Wicked by Jennifer L. Armentrout

DSC_0807GOODREADS SUMMARY | Self-Published | Paperback, 371 pages | Rating: 3 out of 5 Stars


Refried beans.

Have you ever heard of refried beans? I gotta tell you, the first time I’d seen it on a menu, I had to try and hide the grimace on my face. I mean, who wants to eat leftover beans that had been recycled to make it more palatable? It seems suspect to me. Β When it arrived on my plate, however, it didn’t look nearly as bad as I’d first imagined it. In fact, it was actually quite tasty.

At the risk of sounding like an asshole, it’s as close as I can describe how I feel whenever I hear the frantic buzz of a new JLA book. I have a predisposition to judge it based on previous experiences with her books.

She’s one of those authors who’d found her specific writing niche. So comfortable in fact, that she’s become stagnant, in my opinion. I don’t care whichever way you sell her characters. To me, they’re cut from the same cloth. And this is what I mean when I compare her books to refried beans. But after Wicked, I can at least admit it to myself that maybe I shouldn’t be so quick to judge until I actually had a “taste” for them, eh?

Confession:

I had a bit of a bad personal experience with JLA’s publisher that I’d rather not share. Needless to say, I’ve been so stupidly using that as a fodder for not reading her books. Call it maturity, but I think I’m ready to forget, and give them another go.

I’ve read the initial books to a couple of her popular series and have loved them. I couldn’t, however, garner up enough motivation to continue on. I attempted to read the sequels, but after a few chapters, I gave up on them. To me, the maddening He-Men that so many of her fans have loved lent for a teeth-gnashing, stressful reading experience.

The alpha-male has left the building.

I think one of the reasons why I relatively enjoyed this one is because the over-aggressive love interest was absent. Ren is the opposite of every guy that I’ve known from her books. He’s not moody; he doesn’t sulk when he doesn’t get what he wants. Nor does he tell Ivy what to do. In other words, he’s not an asshole. That being said, Ren didn’t really incite heart palpitations. And before you tell me to make up my mind, I’ll have you know that men who tell their women what to do annoy me to no end. So Ren being the anti-JLA hero is not the reason why he didn’t make my heart sing. He was just…unremarkable.

They’re all the same to me.

I can’t say there is anything remotely original about the paranormal elements in this book. If you’re a regular reader of books that feature fae creatures, I say you’re already quite versed with the world JLA has created. It’s the usual thing: an elite, covert group of humans trained to kill all encroaching fae is suddenly faced with their biggest challenge yet. One by one, their kind is being hunted, bludgeoned and killed in a way that suggest all their training is no longer sufficient if they ever have any hope in hell in protecting the world from these creatures.Β There was fae royalty; a gateway they need to close. Even the twist was predictable, as is the conflict in the romance aspect of the book.

However,

that’s not to say the book wasn’t interesting. I still found it enjoyable, and engrossing. Though, that probably has to do with me being an occasional reader of this sub-genre. Regardless of how I felt about this book, I am curious enough to see where the author is going to take her readers. And as predictable as it may seem, I’m keeping hope that she’ll manage to wow me in the end.

  • SO here’s my confession – I still have not read a single book by JLA. But I am kind of averse to the alpha-male so maybe it was good that I didn’t up to this point. But maybe I should give this one a shot if Ren is different and the book was enjoyable to you.

    • Yeah. If you’re allergic to alpha-males, Ren might just be the man for you. Nothing remarkable about this book, though. But would love to see how you’ll fare. πŸ™‚

  • I just started this book a couple days ago, and so far I’m enjoying it. I don’t think there’s anything groundbreaking about it, but I still like just fine. The only other JLA books I’ve read are the first book and a half from her Dark Elements series. I am usually ok with he-man type characters as long as the female counterpart is just as strong a character, but I CANNOT STAND when female characters knuckle under to those male characters because they ‘know he’s right, I really shouldn’t be feeling ______ about _____, and I’m being a typical unreasonable female”, etc. Which I see happening a bit in The Dark Elements, unfortunately.

    • i think daemon left a bad taste in my mouth, to be honest. so because of him, i started to shy away from JLA’s books. i hope to change that with this series, so even though i didn’t quite enjoy it as much, i’m really glad there wasn’t an echo of daemon’s personality in ren.

  • Precious

    Hi Joy! Thanks for the honest review! I’ve been seeing this one all over the blogosphere but I’m not yet decided whether to try it or not. πŸ™‚ I love books about fae/fey, and because of that, I’m reconsidering. <3

    • Then you might just like this one, Precious. πŸ™‚

  • Melanie (YA Midnight Reads)

    I’ve been hearing similar things about JLA and how she reuses personality traits and qualities. I haven’t actually read anything by her yet apart from a novella, so I really dunno what to expect from her but if I ever read a book by her, I won’t be expecting too much

    Fabulous review, Joy! <33

    • Well, I’d be curious to see what you think if you ever find the time to read one of her books! πŸ™‚

  • K

    I haven’t read any books by JLA but I’ve heard her books are good, so it’s quite interesting seeing a different opinion! πŸ˜€ I will give her books a go but I’ll lower my expectations slightly haha! πŸ˜‰ Glad you didn’t find it too tiresome and that the love interest wasn’t a total jerk. Great review! <3

    • Oh yeah. She’s got minions of readers! I think she really found a certain audience that appreciates her story lines.

  • You know something, I don’t think I’ve ever had refried beans! But I hate beans so I don’t think I’ll ever have it any time soon! Teehee. Anyway, I’ve only read two JLA (Obsidian and Onyx) and although I did enjoy both books for its entertainment value, I find that it’s not a series that I can read straight. I need breaks in between because there are some parts that annoy me and I hate the constant cliffies! I can’t really compare any other books written by the author since these are the only ones I’ve read but I do have her other series (Dark Elements), I might check them out just to see if the characters are alike from The Lux series. I also want to try her contemporaries but we shall see. Awesome review Joy! I’m kind of curious about what happened with the publisher now O.o

    • So true! Daemon is an acquired taste, I found. I can’t have heavy dosages of that guy! I think you’ve hit it dead on. You have to read her series sparingly.

  • I feel exactly the same way as you do about Armentrout’s books. The characters ARE all the same and it’s incredibly annoying how she doesn’t seem to expand. I get all excited before her books come out because everyone else is excited but then I’ll waste my money on time on them and they suck for me. While this does seem to have been mildly successful for you, I don’t think I want to take a risk and try a meh book by her. I’ve kind of abandoned the idea of ever liking her books, which is prejudicial, I know, but whatever.
    Great review, Joy!

    • At this point, I might have to do the same thing, Nick. I think I should just throw in the towel with her books.

      Thanks, Nick!

  • I also read a few of JLA’s series starters (Obsidian, which I hated, and Half-Blood, which I enjoyed), but never felt compelled to continue the series. And yes, I’m hesitant to read her other books because of what you said about reusing characters. I also feel like she reuses plots from other series (Obsidian was much too similar with Twilight and Half-Blood was like Vampire Academy), which is kind of why I’m not sure if I’m ready for her other books. Anyway, I’m glad you found some redeeming qualities in this one!

    • Le sigh. I did, but not so much. I think if there’s one thing that makes me want to continue on with this series is the absence of her character stereotype. They didn’t make me want to go on a rampaging rant. Lol.

  • So.. I hate to say it, because JLA is one of my favorite authors, but I totally agree with your review. Wicked was just meh. I was beyond excited when I heard that my favorite author was writing about the fae. My Irish ancestry has a thing for a wonderfully written faerie world. I had faith that JLA could pull it off and make it a phenomenal book. It was just meh. I’m not sure if I set it up for failure in my own mind, or it really was that bad! Anyways.. great review as always girl. I always enjoy your point of view (:
    Morrighan @ Elysian Fields

    • Oh yes. I just read your review of this book, too. And I think I mentioned how similar our reactions were. πŸ™‚

  • Christy

    Oh boy. You know, I have yet to read any of her books. I’m not sure why I haven’t. I know some people do have a love-hate relationship with her writing. On day I’ll see how we get along.

    • You might be able to stomach them, Christy. You are one fearless reader when it comes to the type of books and characters she writes. I’m curious to see how you’ll fare with them.

  • Great review Joy!

    I’ve always been intrigued by JLA (ever since seeing her name around the blogosphere), but….oh wait did she write Vampire Academy? Not that I read that, but still. I honestly don’t know whether I should try her books or not because you mentioned that she borrows a lot from other YA books, and I don’t feel like reading something I’ve already read.

    Well, I’ll get to her books when I get to it. Wicked has a beautiful cover. Too bad it’s not a mermaid book, I would’ve liked that.

    • You know, it’s funny. It seems impossible to stumble upon a reader who hasn’t read any of her books (she’s that popular), but I guess it is entirely possible that readers like you don’t easily give in to the hype. *slow claps*

      Also, Vampire Academy is written by Richelle Mead. A lot of readers have cried foul because JLA’s Covenant series was a copycat of Vampire Academy. I wouldn’t know.. I never did continue on with that series. πŸ™‚

  • You’re not alone in those thoughts Joy. It wasn’t until I read Vampire Academy did I realise her YA series is virtually a carbon copy. It’s not as though she’s a terrible writer, quite the opposite, but it’s nothing original either. The series’ all drag two books too long. I’m actually surprised you gave this a go Joy. Great review, and I’m sorry you couldn’t have enjoyed it more. Can’t blame you <3

    PS. We can both be assholes together <3

    • I’m so glad I’m not alone in my thoughts with her books. While I didn’t bother finishing her more popular series, reading the first books was enough for me. I think her books can only be enjoyed in moderation. πŸ™‚

  • She really is an author that we love to hate sometimes isn’t she? I love and hate her books as well and I never can tell when I will love one and when I will hate one but for whatever reason they are usually really interesting and they trick me into reading them even when I have decided I don’t want to.

    • It’s the very reason why I’m wary of her books. I feel a dread instead of excitement when I pick up her books.

  • Ohh. Amazing review Joy. <3 I'm glad you decided to give this book a try πŸ˜€ And yay for ending up enjoying it! I own a lot of her books.. but none of her newer ones, as I still haven't read anything by her :p but maybe one day. <3 I'm just not sure about this one. But sigh. The cover is so so gorgeous πŸ˜€ I'm sorry you didn't love the boy :\ but so glad he wasn't an asshole πŸ™‚ That is a big plus ;p Thank you for sharing sweetie. <3

    • Eeeep. Daemon will drive you nuts. I think I sort of know the type of boys you like. Hahaha. He ain’t no Gansey!

      • LOL! I do think he would as well. Though, hmph, those are the books I own. HOW MEAN. I might enjoy them one day πŸ™‚ Maybe. Maybe not. Gansey is more the boy for me πŸ™‚

        • i think i like the daemon-type if they’re in an adult fiction setting. not so much when they’re in ya. does that make sense? lol.

  • I actually just finished this one! (It was my last book of 2014). I also found the twist predictable, but I did love Ren πŸ™‚ I’m planning to continue on with the series, as I’m curious to see what will happen next, too. Great review! πŸ™‚

    • I plan on continuing with this series as well. I find that this series didn’t drive me nearly mad as it did her other more popular series. πŸ™‚

  • “At the risk of sounding like an asshole”, Joy, you crack me up! That’s hilarious. I’ve read serveral similar reviews to this book, so you’re not wrong. I read White Hot Kiss by her and didn’t like it all that much, so I can understand. Awesome review. Hahahaha.

    • πŸ™‚ Thanks, Marianne. Glad I amuse you. Lol.

  • THIS.REVIEW.IS.BRILLIANT. Seriously. I actually really enjoyed her Lux Series because when I first read it in 2011/2012 it was my first alien series. But as the series continued on…I was like, meh. Annnnnd I was tempted to try this book but I’m passing. I’ve also evolved as a reader {I think} and I need PNR or Fantasy written by the likes of Illona Andrews, Sarah J. Maas and whatnot. I hope that doesn’t sound snobby or anything. *shrugs*

    • Oh I hear ya. I tend to stay away from PNR and Fantasy as well, but I’m determined to break away the restraints (or strait jacket).

      Thanks, Cristina!

  • I guess I should give in and try her one day too

    • I’d imagine your review would be brilliant. So please. Please do.

  • Hmm– doesn’t Jennifer have like 3 or 4 publishers for the different series? Anywho… totally know what you mean, she has found a certain writing style that appeals to her readers and you can find a bunch of similarities. I am a fangirl, but try to be objective and I can def see where you are coming from

    • Thanks, Brandi! I’m glad you’re not holding it against me. Lol.

  • lol on the refried beans. (I love them, especially if they have cheese on top.)
    I admire JLA a lot — she’s great with her fans and a huge supporter of bloggers and how does she write so fast, anyway?
    I’ve liked some of her books better than others, but I’m always open to trying them!

    Jen @ YA Romantics

    • It’s probably why I find her novels to be acquired taste (she writes them so fast).

      It’s good to see authors interacting with their fans. It shows us they’re down to earth, no matter how popular they are.

  • Hm, refried beans you say? LOL! I read only her Lux series and loved them, mostly because I was one of those Daemon groupies. *hides* Glad you enjoyed the book in spite some issues. I’ll probably read this too, but it won’t be on top of my tbr list.

    • i am not either. daemon is one of those characters that you need small dosages of. Lol.

  • You know what, I’ve only read one JLA book which was Origin (Lux) and I decided that was enough for me, but for an entirely different reason – I felt uncomfortable supporting an author that heavily borrows concepts from other series. It’s just as well I haven’t picked up her other books, but hey at least you gave this a chance right? Great review lovely.

    • Yes, I can totally see why that bears more weight than others in your decision not to continue on with her books. Good on you, Jeann. <3

  • Yeah, Ren was okay…but, like you implied, forgettable! I thought this lacked of originality so so much. Don’t get me wrong, I do like seeing JLA publish a new book every time, but, sometimes, I feel like 2 per year with A LOT of research and brainstorming would be best. It feels like she’s writing toooo fast.

    • And on the same token, her fans would probably be happy if she puts out a book a month. Lol.

  • Faye M.

    You’re not alone with your initial thoughts posted about JLA’s writing… I’ve read reviews of her books from bloggers and a majority of them say the same thing: that she reuses characters, just, with different names. This is one of the reasons why I avoid her books so much D: I think I only read one and I didn’t like it that well haha… in any case, I’m glad to see that you found this at least enjoyable!

    Faye at The Social Potato

    • Enjoyable, yes. But hardly remarkable. At least the characters didn’t make me fly into a fit of rage. Lol.

  • Happy New Year!

    There’s something to be said for established formula’s. Sometimes a well executed work, even if somewhat predictable, can be great fun and still take you for a ride. Then again, sometimes a book follows formula and just doesn’t know how to make it ‘pop’. In this case it sounds like it might be the latter.

    Good opening by the way, I liked that lead-in.

    • It tends to be boring though. Like Dan Brown’s books – they all have the same opening: the discovery of a dead body that leads to clues for Robert Langdon to piece together. And I have read most of his books (except for the most recent one). While the process differs from each novel, I feel that the formula he uses got old after the second time used it.

      …and thank you! πŸ™‚