Aug 13

Book Review: The Merciless

The Merciless (The Merciless, #1)The Merciless by Danielle Vega

I’ve had this on my shelf forever and just picked it up by chance looking for books to cull. Randomly flipping open the page I hit upon a dark and twisted scene and decided that I was in the mood for an evil story about evil people.

It starts out as a typical YA book. New girl moves to new town and is trying to decide which girls to make friends with. Does she make friends with Riley the queen bee or Brooklyn the lone wolf? Riley is popular and powerful, but Brooklyn is nice too. And then there’s the cute boy … There’s a hint of something darker when Sofia encounters a mutilated cat in a pentagram behind the bleachers. Riley says that Brooklyn did it, that Brooklyn is troubled and needs help. But Sofia isn’t sure she believes that.

The best thing about this book is just how twisted it is. These girls literally get away with murder. it’s like Lord of the Flies with nail polish and Vogue magazines. They’re all in high school, so they’re at that age where they become increasingly willing and able to distance themselves from parental control by any means necessary. This is how it comes to happen that some girls bind and torture another in an unfinished house, all in the name of exorcising the poor girl’s demon. Sofia, as an outsider, flip flops back and forth between who she allies with. She just wants the madness to stop.

The point of the book is that none of these girls are really “good.” Riley, the angelic queen bee, feels it’s okay to torture people in the name of God. Brooklyn may actually have done some of the things that Riley accused her of. Even Sofia has a dark past. And Grace? Okay, the author lost me here. Becoming addicted to drugs is not even close to on par with cutting up cats to appease your dark master. Nor is “being a slut,” as someone accuses Riley of. Mixing up bible-belt morality with actual morality muddied the waters for me. Fucking boys is not evil. Taking Ambien is not evil. Even being a Satanist doesn’t make you evil, it just means you have an alternative religion. Evil only happens when you start hurting people.

But boy, do they hurt people. I don’t know if it’s even possible to do such things with a nail gun, but I am sure not going to go to YouTube to find out. They’re so nasty to each other that the brutal retaliation feels, if not justified, then at least understandable. I loved the twist ending, though now that I’m thinking about it, it feels a bit out of character for how they set her up.

So if you know someone who likes their YA on the dark and twisted side, and doesn’t mind graphic descriptions of brutal violence, pick this up.

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