I read two books in a row with 'Wicked' in the title. If I was clever I could have posted at a different time and had a nice 'wicked' theme going. Although the two books are otherwise unconnected, so it might have been a little tenuous.
Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr
Aislinn (shortened to Ash in case, like me, you aren't sure how it's pronounced) can see the cruel antics of invisible faeries. It's a family curse and Aislinn has been brought up strictly by her grandmother to ignore the faeries at all times, as attracting their attention is too dangerous. However powerful faeries are suddenly following her and she needs to listen to the whispers she normally ignores, because now they're about her.
I enjoyed this book and am looking forward to reading the sequels. It's part of the current surge of supernatural romances for teens, but I found that it bucked certain (annoying) trends. The faeries in this book are varied, but generally inhuman-looking and often rather nasty, I felt that the supernatural elements were well-used. Aislinn's fear and distrust of them is understandable and this attitude prevales even in the face of a handsome and mysterious stranger (let's face it, those guys are always trouble). The supernatural is not sprung on her as an amazing new world, it contains all the horrors she's witnessed in her life. The challenge in the book is not resisting the beguiling temptation of the supernatural, but working to try and accept it.
One thing I found very refreshing was the romantic plotline. The centuries-old, faery king Keenan does not successfully seduce the mortal girl (though it's something he's done numerous times in the past). In fact Aislinn can't stand Keenan, who follows her and hangs around her school, and she treats him with suspicion. This is understandable, there's really no good reason for anyone over a century old to hang around a school. It's also refreshing to read a story in which becoming a faery queen is actually the protagonist's idea of a complete nightmare. Melissa Marr cleverly twists fictional expectations with the situation and characters she has created.
The actual romantic lead is much more realistic and likeable. Seth is Aislinn's friend, but unknown to her -and completely out of character- he's interested in a serious relationship. I'm sure most female readers are impressed by the character's loyalty, concern, respect, caring and patience, I certainly was. And I've met other readers who feel similarly. It's wonderful to read a book for young women in which the ideal male is loving and respectful and sees the female lead as an equal partner. Seth is pulled into Aislinn's supernatural world, he helps her with her problems, and he trusts her to know her situation best and look after herself, even if he worries about her. This is the sort of relationship I think more people should be aiming for (but without the faeries, obviously).
Tangential note: For ages I thought I'd read this book already. Whenever someone mentioned it I'd be all 'yeah, yeah, I've read that'. What I actually read was Wondrous Strange, a different book with a similar premise -dangerous, ancient faeries causing havoc in modern day US cities. Also they both start with W, so you can understand my confusion.