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Monday, July 24, 2017

Book Review: The Merciless (The Merciless #1)

Release Date: June 12, 2014
Author: Danielle Vega
Publisher: Razorbill
Length: 279 pages
Source: Purchased Book

Forgive us, Father, for we have sinned

Brooklyn Stevens sits in a pool of her own blood, tied up and gagged. No one outside of these dank basement walls knows she’s here. No one can hear her scream.

Sofia Flores knows she shouldn’t have gotten involved. When she befriended Riley, Grace, and Alexis on her first day at school, she admired them, with their perfect hair and their good-girl ways. They said they wanted to save Brooklyn. They wanted to help her. Sofia didn’t realize they believed Brooklyn was possessed.

Now, Riley and the girls are performing an exorcism on Brooklyn—but their idea of an exorcism is closer to torture than salvation. All Sofia wants is to get out of this house. But there is no way out. Sofia can’t go against the other girls . . . unless she wants to be next. . . .

In this chilling debut, Danielle Vega delivers blood-curdling suspense and terror on every page. By the shockingly twisted end, readers will be faced with the most haunting question of all: Is there evil in all of us?

    

Review:

Protagonist: Sofia Flores moves to a new town so she and her mother can take care of her grandmother who has had a stroke and can no longer take care of her self. At her new school, she wants to fit in after having a poor experience at her previous school. She seems to hit the jackpot when a group of tightly knit girls asks her to join them for lunch and gradually start befriending her. Sofia is so happy to have a group of friends and fit in that she begins to spy on a girl named Brooklyn for them so they can find out why she's changed so much from when she was friends with them. Sooner rather than later Sofia discovers that her new group of friends believe Brooklyn to be possessed by a demon and they're planning on exorcising it from her body. Honestly, I really liked the character of Sofia. I mean most of her characterization we learn bit by bit over time, but her reactions to what's going on around her aren't hard to believe at all. She wants to fit in, but that need clouds her judgment and she misses the red flags that pop up. How she handles herself once things go too far is very realistic as well, and overall she's a hugely compelling character.

Romance: So, there's not that much romance in this book at all. In fact, while the romance was very well handled it doesn't really factor into the overall story. Sofia meets Charlie at the beginning of this book and they sort of immediately hit it off, but I love how the romance was handled from there. What I had assumed would be either an insta-love or fast moving romance really turned out to be something that escalated at a fairly realistic rate. Honestly, there isn't much more to say about the romance without spoiling something.

World Building: So, something some of you may not know is that I'm Christian. However, I'm also someone that understands that any belief can be taken too far and cross over from rational to bat shit crazy. So going into this book I was interested to see how the author handles religion in this story, and I was surprised that I didn't really feel like the author was trying to push any sort of agenda. The group of extremely zealous girls that Sofia hangs out with are by no means "good" characters, but I never felt like the author was trying to comment on religion in general, just how far these girls have taken it. The story honestly starts off very much in a similar vein to the cult classic movie, Mean Girls. A girl starts a new school, though in this story our main character has had experience with high school hierarchies before and befriends a group of popular girls who open her eyes to what friendship should look like, but it turns from contemporary to horror on a dime.

Predictability: Like I talked about previously the best part about this book is the constant unknown of whether or not demons exist in this world and if so does Brooklyn have a demon inside of her. With that also comes the moral quandary, if there are demons and Brooklyn is possessed, then are Riley and her friends justified in their gory exorcism or if they still take things to far. I have to say I really love the way this author writes horror, most of it is all in the ambiance and she doesn't take the cheap or easy way by making a pure gore fest nor does she try too hard with her jump scares. In the end, this book is fairly unpredictable and honestly, there's still a lot to discover.

Ending: So I had seen a few of my friends  read this book and go, "WTF did I just read?" and so when I decided to give this book I read I tried to ready myself for an unpredictable ending, and while I sort of knew where the ending was headed, I still ended this book much in the same way as my friends, trying to piece together what the hell I just read. (No pun intended) The final climax of this story is fantastic, it moves really fast and everything comes together right at the end in a spectacular way and while I'm ready and willing for more books in this series, if this was a standalone, I would have been more than happy to leave off here, at the intersection of horrified and confused.

Rating:


This book was fantastically spooky and if I wasn't reading it to prepare for a book signing later today (as of when this review goes up) I would have loved to save it for October because this would make the perfect Halloween read.

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