Book Reviews

The Merciless (2016) Book Review

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Teen girl horror in all its glory, with hints of William Blatty, accurately sum up the furiously popular novel by Danielle Vega, The Merciless. If you’re interested in a quick, fun, and entertaining read, pick up this cute pink and pentagram-ed book filled with bottomless wine bottles, cat fights, and Satan. 

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.
 
By the shockingly twisted end, readers will be faced with the most haunting question of all: Is there evil in all of us?- Official synopsis

Now that you know what the basic gist is, let’s get to talking about the readability. If you’re an accomplished reader, you could easily finish this in a day- unless you prefer to savor stories. With this book, the chapters are formatted as cliffhangers, so it’s difficult to just stop at one chapter, as the action continues onto the next page. It’s 279 pages, so it won’t take you months to get through it.

The story itself reads like a cheesy horror movie script, but in a smart, literary way. I found myself thinking of Jennifer’s Body when reading. It was funny in a lot of ways and I wasn’t sure if it was intentional at times. Some girls will laugh because they weren’t the painfully psychotic girls depicted within the pages and it’s hard to believe that such creatures exist (although I hear they do.) Our lead character, Sofia, is a great narrator, as her responses to situations are those of an honest human being. Although certain choices will remind you of worn out horror cliches, it’s purely done for the sake of suspense and its longevity. I think it’s a great read for horror fans because of these traits. Those who only read the ‘Masters of Horrors’ because of their craft and cunning storytelling are missing out on good, old fashioned Friday night fun.

Certain phrases are used and highly abused. I understand there are only so many ways to convey emotion and action but rereading these sentences throughout made the exposition very boring, being so close to the climax. It cheapened the action and made the emotions feel like”Yeah, yeah we get it, she’s terrified.” There are a handful of twists in The Merciless and I personally wasn’t wowed by them. I felt that there were far too many hints and prods along the way that made me as a reader think, “Jesus Christ, okay, I get it- so and so is this and that.” There weren’t any completely-of-the-blue twists, which I think are essential to a story so closely resembling screenplay. Maybe it was-I hate to use this term- dumbed down for younger readers? Or Vega simply wanted the reader to be considering all possibilities throughout. In the end, I wasn’t as satisfied as I wanted to be but I still enjoyed the ride.

The second book in the series, The Merciless 2, will be out July 5th, 2016. Go ahead and give this first one a read. If you’re writhing to know more, then anticipate the newest release.

I know I’ve invested some care and interest for these skinny, sassy demons.

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