Author: Suzanne Young
Genre: YA, paranormal, romance, mystery
Publication Date: June 26, 2012 (HarperTeen – North America)
Source: Publisher-provided finished copy
Summary: Elise is a normal seventeen-year-old girl until the day she wakes up in a desert park, with no idea who she is.
After that episode, her life takes a bizarre turn. She’s experiencing unexpected flashes of insight into people’s lives—people she’s never met before. Strangers frighten her with warnings about the approaching Shadows. And although Elise has never had a boyfriend, she suddenly finds herself torn between two handsome but very different young men: Abe, the charming bad boy whose effect on her both seduces and frightens her, and the mysterious Harlin, who’s new to town but with whom Elise feels an urgent, elemental connection—almost as if they are soul mates.
Now Elise begins to question everything about her life. Why do these guys both want her so desperately? What are the Shadows? Why does the name Charlotte inspire a terrifying familiarity? And who is Elise, really?
☆: 3.5/5 stars – a great ending to a great duology, but still let me down in a few areas.
Review: So, finally, I’ve gotten to the end of this sequel. I was really looking forward to it, but I just found that “A Want So Wicked” let me down in quite a few areas in terms of what I’d been hoping for in this book. Don’t get me wrong – Young is still a fantastic writer, and I’m looking forward to her future work, but it was the insta-love and love triangle that did it for me here that just really disappointed me. This book could have been a lot more than it was, and, well, I just kind of had my hopes set a bit too high. Nonetheless, I think that if you’ve already read book one, if just to finish your journey with Charlotte/Elise and Harlin, you simply must read “A Want So Wicked”.
What I loved – the world that was so meticulously built in “A Need So Beautiful” stayed in this sequel, but changed more so that we focused more on the Shadows rather than the Light, which was an interesting opposite to open a sequel upon. We see Onika’s descent into the Shadows in deeper detail, as well as what helps cause Shadows in the first place, and this was all really great worldbuilding that didn’t happen (or really, couldn’t happen because of the pacing) in book one. There are a lot of important details added in this new setting of a desert town, and I was glad we got these details to finally finish fleshing out this world of the Light versus the Shadows and how long this battle has been going on.
What was also a great choice for the setting was the fact that the town is in a desert, period. If you’ve ever been to anywhere in a desert (I go every year down to Palm Desert, so I can speak from experience), you know that there’s not much out there aside from lots of light, and lots of shadows. There’s not much out there that’s permitted to live due to temperatures and lack of water, and that makes this setting all the more extreme. Just as the setting itself is almost desolate as it is in the desert, Charlotte/Elise’s Needs are harder and harder to find (and fulfill) in a small town where Shadows seem to feast easily and in droves. This book is about the Shadows where the first was about the Light, so it seems fitting that the sparseness of a desert location is also an allegory for the actual story itself.
The sensory imagery and language was just as lovely as the first book in all areas, so I won’t be touching that.
What I wasn’t a fan of: the insta-love with Harlin and Abe. While Young takes the reincarnation trope and makes it work in terms of Elise/Charlotte’s attraction to Harlin (so you get a get out of jail free card here), what’s been used to death in YA as of late and what I’m just plain tired of is being attracted to the bad boy (Abe), who literally is evil in this book. Yes, it made a striking comparison to the very different futures from which Elise/Charlotte must make her ultimate choice, but I just feel like it could have been done better. This is what kind of killed a lot of the enjoyment of this book for me, right here, alone.
Also, love triangle (kind of – it’s dubious consent when it comes to Abe). Need I say more?
HOWEVER. At least the ‘dubious consent’ bit was made abundantly clear further into the book when Elise and Abe start getting a bit more serious with their semi-relationship. Which was nice, for a change – so much of YA glosses over that bit when you have the insta-love with the possibly totally evil bad boy, so it was pretty refreshing to have dubious consent trumpeted all over the place.
Otherwise? I really liked the twist on what makes Charlotte/Elise’s soul so special, to the point where the Shadows really want to claim it, but her future is a pretty depressing one (especially where it concerns both her actual physical self and Harlin). Young could have taken the “happily ever after” route, but instead went for the “happily? ever after” route instead, where we question whether how happy Charlotte/Elise will truly be in her situation of being so unique a creature.
If you’ve read book one, you simply must finish your journey with these characters and this fascinating world. And if you haven’t read book one yet – well, what are you waiting for? “A Want So Wicked” is out from HarperTeen now in North America, so be sure to check it out. It’s definitely worth the read.