Book Review: The Merciless by Danielle Vega

Title: The Merciless
Author: Danielle Vega
Released: June 12, 2014
Series: The Merciless #1
Rating: ★★★☆☆

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 admitted 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?

Please keep in mind that this review contains spoilers for the entire book. Read with caution. If you click the “Read More”, it is under the assumption that either you don’t care about spoilers or you’ve already read the book.

The thing about this book is true to what it was – “Mean Girls” with an exorcism.

Honestly, the beginning part was weak and made me think that this was going to be a Mean Girls rip-off, down to the guy who would try to have a romance with her. I’d like to say we get to know the characters but we really don’t. Trying to get to know the other characters, especially the three popular girls, because I hardly knew anything about them even before the torture/”exorcism” starts.

If the book wasn’t in Sofia’s point of view, I’m fairly certain we wouldn’t know about her flashbacks otherwise. Personality-wise, it’s hard to pinpoint it other than she can imitate human disgust when appropriate and I really wished to learn more about Riley’s sullen looking mother a lot more than Riley herself.

The ending, or “plot twist” as most reviewers call it, annoyed me because it was obvious sequel-bait. Another thing that bothered me was how quiet the town was regarding the popular girls’ deaths (especially Alexis whose family are known in the charity circuit) after everything was said and done; certainly, it’s easy for me to say that the ending was fairly weak as well. There were characters that were more throwaway than the nails Riley tried to crucify Brooklyn and Sofia with which sort of annoyed me.

Although, in the end, the biggest gripe I have about this book was mostly the fact that I hardly knew anything about the characters (as though that’s not obvious enough). However, once the drama gets going, it honestly kept my attention. I’ll be frank, when I first picked this up, I was interested that this had a Mexican main character – something I didn’t get to see in my youth and happy to see now – but once the “exorcism” started, I was pretty hooked because of how brutal and intense it was.

If anything, what got me hooked was how terrifying the situation and how Riley and the others could up the stakes and what could’ve happened up until the confessions started. And that’s when I started to get annoyed – it’s really obvious that Brooklyn is a demon. Well, of course, she’s a demon – she hangs out with the alternative crowd where drugs are openly passed around, underaged girls get with overaged guys, tattoos and piercings are edgy and bad, and that the super religious slutty prep was right.

I didn’t exactly feel a thing for the characters, mostly because I don’t really know them for their confessions to hit me any harder than if a stranger told me their life story. I was worried about their well-being, sure, but beyond that… if you could replace their names with different people, then it’d be the same.

The gore and certain scenes made me cringe and disgusted but it made me feel something other than, “Oh, that’s a thing that happened.” I did like the descriptions even though I had to turn away from it at times (especially the fingernail scenes). The writing style better suits this type of scenes perhaps better than an actual story.

When it was revealed that Sofia was a demon all along, it got me even more annoyed. Throughout the novel, she relays stories about her and her grandmother and even says that her mother is basically an atheist. She says that, before her grandmother’s stroke, they were really close. And then suddenly, near the end after she discovers Grace’s body HANGING (yeah, no that’s perfectly normal in a Mississippi town for a black girl’s body mutilated) outside of her house, her grandmother is able to speak again. She starts calling her “Diablo, diablo…” which started to set sirens off in my head.

And then it was revealed Sofia was a demon all along. That really bothered me and it made me angry that I was baited. Now, this isn’t to say that makes the novel bad. It got fairly quick to the good parts so the majority of the novel is what transpired that night. That didn’t bother me.

What bothered me the most was how I, the reader, was expected to suddenly care about Sofia when I hardly knew her and the crime she committed hadn’t really sunk in.

Would I recommend this to others? Sure, if they don’t care about the characters and just wanted to see the fucked up shit. Otherwise, I wouldn’t to anyone else. Because it got my attention, I certainly wish to read the rest of the books to see if Sofia could get the demon exorcized out of her but judging there are 3 other books… maybe. Oh well. Either way, this review makes it sound I regret reading this book – I really don’t regret it and I’m glad I did because now it got me curious on what other horror (either young adult or not) is out there that I could sink my teeth into.

About Lily

A fujoshi who won't shut up about anime, manga, video games, BJDs, nendoroids, and anime conventions. She apparently can't stop writing either.

Posted on October 8, 2018, in ★★★☆☆ – 3 Stars, Book Reviews, Book Series, The Merciless and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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