REVIEW: Sweet Evil by Wendy Higgins

Sweet Evil by Wendy Higgins
HarperTeen, 2012
[Goodreads | Amazon]

What if there were teens whose lives literally depended on being bad influences.

This is the reality for sons and daughters of fallen angels.

Tenderhearted Southern girl Anna Whitt was born with the sixth sense to see and feel emotions of other people. She’s aware of a struggle within herself, an inexplicable pull toward danger, but Anna, the ultimate good girl, has always had the advantage of her angel side to balance the darkness within. It isn’t until she turns sixteen and meets the alluring Kaidan Rowe that she discovers her terrifying heritage and her willpower is put to the test. He’s the boy your daddy warned you about. If only someone had warned Anna.

Forced to face her destiny, will Anna embrace her halo or her horns?


Confession time: I actually really liked this one. No one was more surprised than I was at that fact, mostly because I’d seen several status updates pointing out various things that I was sure I would have a lot of problems with. And I am going to be upfront when I say that I DID have problems with some things in this book, and I am going to be fairly detailed when I describe these issues. But there was far more that I liked in this book than I didn’t, which is the reasoning behind the ultimate rating that I’ve given it. With that being said, here we go!

I’m going to start with the positives, first. Sweet Evil features a truly fabulous, well-developed, and unique angel/demon mythology. This is a huge, massive kink for me personally, and honestly accounts for much of my delight with this book. Anna is the daughter of a fallen angel – in this case, Belial, the Duke of substance abuse – and a guardian angel. While there have been plenty of books featuring Nephilim, or the off-spring of fallen angels, this was the first that I’ve seen to really branch out and create a very complex world, in which fallen angels live on Earth and have children solely to further their sins. These children are really held down by their demon fathers (all of the demons except one are male), and basically forced to do their father’s “work”. Some of this work – particularly when it came to Kaiden’s role – was downright infuriating and upsetting to read about, but that doesn’t erase the fact that the whole idea of the mythology is – for me – absolutely brilliant. I was truly engrossed in the details of the demons, and what caused their fall from heaven, and especially the little tidbits Higgins included about Lucifer. The whole concept of this book is just truly first-rate.

There is also something absolutely compulsively readable about this book. While I had issues with our main character – and I’ll get to those in a second – and found some of the occurrences in this book just a tad too convenient, I was still completely taken in by the narrative and eagerly turning page after page. For me, any book that is difficult to put down gets an automatic star from me, which is why this has been rated four stars instead of just three. Sweet Evil suffers from some of the same YA tropes that we’ve seen in countless other books – the ridiculously hot bad boy, the naive female MC, something paranormal occurring to thrust them together – but I never really felt like I’d read this book before. This gets major kudos from me, because, seriously, with all the YA I’ve read, it takes a lot to make something feel original and fresh. Sweet Evil was a breathe of fresh air, at least for me, although I can understand why others wouldn’t feel the same. I am also going to admit to a bit of a thing for the forbidden romance trope. Anna and Kaiden should stay as far away from each other as possible, considering the circumstances, but I can’t help but root, root, root that they’ll figure out some way to be together. My feelings toward the main couple also went an awful long way towards the whole readability factor of this book, and was another thing that made me continue to turn those pages.

Now, let me get to some of the things I did NOT like. First of all, Anna is a character who must have lived her first sixteen years under a rock, because this girl is so naive that there were several times I was eye rolling so hard I was sure I’d injure myself. I get it – she’s the daughter of an angel, a “special” child, and Patti, her adoptive mother, wanted to keep her as unspoiled and pure as possible. Fine, whatever. But in today’s world, you need to impart some sort of street smarts in your children, and by not doing that, Patti puts Anna at a distinct disadvantage, not only because she’s also the child of a fallen angel (therefore feeling a pull toward her father’s “sin” of choice), but just because it causes her to make some very stupid mistakes when she’s left on her own among her peers. For someone who wants to keep her daughter safe, she sure didn’t teach her what any sixteen year old girl really needs to know.

And then there is the fact that Anna is so saintly she’s nearly impossible to believe. She doesn’t lie – except for that one time, when she did it on purpose, and then felt terrible about it afterward (seriously, stop it). She doesn’t drink or do drugs – except for that one time, when she made a true error in judgement and had to be rescued. She is the girl who reminds a teacher to collect the homework, who feels horrid at the thought of being at a party with no adult supervision after telling her mother that there would be, etc. The extent of her “goodness” was just so over the top that I had a hard time wrapping my head around the fact that this girl exists. It took me a very long time to warm up to her, especially when she says things like this:

Of course I feel temptation, but I’m really aware of it, so I can sort of squash most of the urges before they have time to register. Rules are meant to protect us, so I follow them. Something might feel good at the moment, but the consequences are scary.” (page 192)

I mean, really? And then, when thinking about Kaiden’s father (the Duke of Lust, don’t you know), she says something about kicking him in his “prized lust parts”, and I, just … ANNA. “Prized lust parts” is really what comes to mind when you think of the male genitalia? (She likewise has trouble with the word “sex”. I pretty much went *headdesk* at that.) Also, I LOLed when she said her dad looked completely “bad-a”. I’m giggling just typing that.

Then there are the little things like Patti just allowing Kaiden – a boy both her AND Anna have just met – to drive Anna cross-country to California so she can meet her father ALONE. Or not having any visual reaction when Anna’s father teaches Anna  how to hold her liquor IN HER LIVING ROOM.  And a few other things I’m not going to get super detailed into, but were definitely eye-brow raising for me. And then you had the road trip, which was formulated specifically so that Anna and Kaiden would be forced into each other’s company to further the ensuing romance. Kaiden is loaded and could have EASILY bought plane tickets; it would have been far faster to travel by air, which was sort of the point of the road trip in the first place. For someone on a time crunch, a five-day road trip didn’t really make much sense. And then you had Anna’s father, who I loved, but also felt a bit too lovey-dovey for me. He’s a hardened fallen angel who’s spent the last sixteen years in prison (oh, and he conveniently has a parole hearing coming up!), but when he sees Anna he basically acts like a giant teddy bear. Again, I liked him, but his character just felt a bit too wishy-washy. Is he “bad-a” or not? (Sorry, couldn’t resist.)

Also, as a heads-up, this book includes attempted date rape and a mention of underage sex trafficking. The sex trafficking is one of the things that’s really set some people against this book because of Kaiden’s role in the scenario, and I can get where they’re coming from. While it bothered me – I mean, the whole idea of sex trafficking is just awful – I couldn’t necessarily fault him for what he says and does, because of his character and the whole relationship with his father. If you’ve read the book and know what I’m talking about (I am trying to be as spoiler-free as possible), I would be interested to hear your thoughts on that particular part. Also, PARENTS: There are loads and LOADS of make-out and not-entirely sex scenes throughout this book. Kaiden is the son of the Duke of Lust, and is in the forefront of most of these. Because of this – and the reference to some of the other things I just talked about – I would recommend this book probably to readers 15 and up. Ymmv, of course, but there’s my two cents.

I would be remiss if I didn’t actually mention my feelings on Kaiden, especially since he’s one of the hot button issues of this book. I honestly like him quite a bit. Yes, he can be a jackass, and he’s manipulative with Anna’s feelings (constantly pushing her away and then pulling her closer), but I felt like every single thing he did was completely representative of his upbringing and background. He is a deeply flawed character who is having a hard time figuring out what he should do, and this is shown by his actions throughout the book. He cares for Anna – even though he won’t say it – but is scared about what that means for him because of who he is and who his father is. For me, Kaiden is the most compelling of all the characters in this book, even if he is a bit too “stereotypical YA paranormal male” for some.

And because this review is getting out of hand in terms of length, I am going to stop there. To sum up: Sweet Evil is not without its flaws. The characters are sometimes aggravating and the MC is a bit too saintly for my personal tastes. But the mythology – for me – was enough to balance any of that out. I am definitely looking forward to seeing what’s going to happen next, and what’s in store for Anna and Kaiden. I have a feeling this series might just get epic in the next two installments, and I am eagerly anticipating the ultimate clash between good and evil. If you want something different in terms of angel and demon lore, and said lore is a particularly strong draw for you, I would definitely recommend this book. My advice to you, however, is to go in with lower expectations; I think my doing so is what made this a far more enjoyable read for me than it was for others.



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8 Responses to REVIEW: Sweet Evil by Wendy Higgins

  1. Alicia♥ says:

    I’ve heard A LOT about Sweet Evil and your review is making me tempted beyond words! Yes, the MC does sound a little annoying but to make you change your mind about this book, it must have great merits, can’t wait to read the awesome myths for myself!! :)


    • Merin says:

      I was very prepared to not like this one, and then, when I finished, I was sort of like, “… HUH! This was actually really good!” Too bad we have to wait a long LONG time for the second one!

      Glad my review made you want to read it! :)

  2. Great review Merin! I have this on my bookshelf and hope to get to it soon. I’ve been on an unlucky streak lately with angel books, so I’m glad that this one sounds promising.

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