Review: The Merciless by Danielle Vega

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Publication: June 12th 2014
Publisher:  Razorbill
Pages:  279 pages
Source: Bookstore (Chapters)
Genre: Fiction, Horror, Paranormal, Thriller, Young Adult
My Rating: ⛤⛤.5

I wanted to love this book so much. I was so excited to read it just from how the back of the book started alone:

“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.”

I mean, when a back of the book starts like that, how could you not want to read this book? I wanted messed up high school girls who thought were dark and twisted and just wanted to hurt one of their classmates, but instead I got literal demons.

The summary of The Merciless promises readers that three popular girls, Riley, Alexis, and Grace, are exorcising a girl named Brooklyn whom they think is a demon at that new girl at school Sofia Flores gets dragged into helping with the exorcism that is more torture than demon vanquishing. Unfortunately, I’m learning that Vega’s synopses of her books are very spoilery, because the actual exorcism doesn’t begin until halfway through the book and without the synopsis, no one would have guessed that’s where the story was going.

I also found Sofia to be an irritating character. She is so unbelievably pathetic, and her thought process confuses me. She instantly becomes a favourite of the popular girls, and after three days is calling them her best friends. You need more time than that to figure out if you’re best friends with someone! After the twist of Sofia’s past is revealed, I can kind of understand her character a bit. She is someone who did something incredibly bad, unforgivable, at her last school and is trying desperately to be good and redeem herself. But girl, you literally pulled someone onto the train tracks which killed them, and framed it as a suicide. Which I might add, is incredibly realistic. If Sofia had time to get off the tracks, so did Karen. It isn’t like in the movies kiddos, trains are fast and if you do not get off the tracks when the train is far away you’re screwed.

What I did like was that most of the story took place in a mere number of hours at night during the exorcism. Not many authors can pull off writing a story in such a short timeline, but Vega did an excellent job. I did like the exorcism scenes most in the book. They were dark, twisted, disgusting, and horrifying which is strange to see in a YA novel. One thing that didn’t make a lot of sense was that Riley, Alexis, and Grace said that Brooklyn used to hang out with them until she changed, but during the exorcism they never bring up that they used to know each other, or what happened when Brooklyn changed.

And I thought the twist that Brooklyn was an actual demon was so lame. I just wanted twisted girls doing fucked up torture to another student in the guise of exorcism. I didn’t want real demons, but real demons is what I got.

And I could have handled a story where one of the characters was a demon, I really could have. If it were any of the popular girls it would have been expected, but I would have dealt with it. If it was Sofia, that would have been a nice twist too (and it was kind of the twist, though I don’t think that’s how demonology works).

The Merciless is a very simply written novel that really isn’t that interesting considering it’s about exorcism and torture. The exorcism and torture scenes were well written, but overall the story had a flat plot, flat characters, and one too many demons.

Some lingering questions that made me angry:

  • Why is Brooklyn a demon?
  • Why does a demon attend high school?
  • Where are Brooklyn’s parents?
  • I just want to know more about Brooklyn.
  • I’m no expert on demonology, but I’m pretty sure sinning doesn’t attract demons to you, it just makes you a bad person. (Considering what you count a sin of course, Vega considers everything in the bible a sin in her book.)
  • If demons exist in this story that leads me to believe God and angels do too, and they do literally nothing. I know Sofia killed someone and maybe that’s a good reason to be ignored by God (same with Alexis, the craziest freaking character I’ve read about in a YA novel for a long time), but Riley and Grace’s “sins” were pretty minor in comparison (premarital sex and drug addict respectively), I know they were mean girls but did they really deserve to be ignored? Also, all the girls were exorcising a real freaking demon, doesn’t that deserve some sort of “one time get out of sin free” card?
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