Book Review: The Merciless by Danielle Vega

by - 6:22:00 AM

Title: The Merciless
Author: Danielle Vega
Pages: 279
Genre: YA Horror
Release Date: 12 June 2014
From Goodreads: "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."
Finally. I've been meaning to get to this book for so long and I finally just sat down and read it. And I accidentally literally flew through it because I got so into it. I'm in love with the cover and the synopsis had me cheering because it definitely gave me the "Mean Girls meets The Exorcist" vibes that this book is described as. Despite seeing so many mixed reviews on this book, I really enjoyed it and immediately picked up book two!

Sofia Flores is new in town and on her first day of school, manages to make friends with the popular girls. Now that Brooklyn Stevens is tied up and sitting in a pool of her own blood, Sofia's not so sure she should have befriended Riley, Grace, and Alexis. But they said they wanted to help Brooklyn, to save her. What Sofia didn't realize was that the girls believed Brooklyn was possessed. Now, they're performing an exorcism on the girl- or rather passing off torture as an exorcism to save Brooklyn's soul. All Sofia wants is to leave, but there's no way out and she can't go against the others unless she wants them to turn on her next.

I. Loved. This. Book. I loved how it felt like I was reading a horror version of Mean Girls. I loved how it felt like the book knew it was cheesy but just rolled with it and accepted it and even embraced the cheese. I won't lie, I was worried that I would end up like everyone else and think this was just a mediocre attempt at a horror book and that the gore was over the top and unnecessary because "you don't need to be excessively gory to be scary" or something like that. But this was exactly what I was looking for and I didn't even realize it until I started reading it. It was bloody and gory as all get out and I soaked it all up, loving every minute of it. Was it the most profound horror story ever? No, it wasn't. Was it cheesy? Yeah, but it was self-aware. I just had an absolute blast reading through this entire book and can safely say that Danielle Vega is my queen of YA horror books. The whole thing read so easily threw the plot twist at the reader at a point where you weren't expecting a plot twist to happen. The twist had me literally shouting in excitement because it was just so fantastically unexpected but at the same time you almost want it to happen, if that makes sense. This wasn't like any horror book I've read before and that's probably why I enjoyed it so much. It was new and exciting to me, with lots of blood, gore, total cheese, and a glorious plot twist to top it all off.

Gonna get this out of the way first and say that Brooklyn was by far the best character in the book. She was so sassy and just had this constant "I don't care" attitude about her. Even when she was getting tortured, she still had loads of sass to throw at Riley and the girls. She was herself, even if that meant being on the outside and being different, and I really admired that about her. Hands down, Brooklyn was my favorite character in this whole book.

Sofia drove me absolutely bonkers, I'm not gonna lie. She was such a passive character and kind of just sat by while the three girls tortured Brooklyn. Sure, every so often she'd make a small effort to try and help Brooklyn or attempt to say "Hey, this isn't right," but she was so concerned with Riley liking her that she just...stopped. She didn't want to lose the friendship with this obviously crazy girl so she was okay with sitting by and watching Brooklyn be hurt? It was genuinely hard to be okay with this and really did have me sitting there wondering just why she was more concerned about being liked than doing the right thing. I guess I can understand not wanting to have Riley turn on her and ending up in the same situation as Brooklyn, but I just would have liked to see her stand up to them more and actually mean it. One thing I did enjoy about Sofia, however, was her "dark past." I definitely wasn't expecting her to have done what she did, but it did kind of make me not want to meet her in a dark alley. Her crazy may not have been as intense as Riley's, but it was still pretty crazy.

Grace and Alexis were pretty decent side characters. They weren't as crazy as Riley and were still able to eventually see that what they were doing wasn't right, but they weren't exactly the most memorable characters, unfortunately. They did what they were written to do and while they were both well-written, I wouldn't say they were on par with any of the other characters. Of course, both Grace and Alexis had their dark secrets that were revealed and that did make them slightly more interesting, but again, side characters that were just okay rather than exceptionally awesome like the others.

Its been a bit since I've been able to pick up a book and read through it as quickly as I read The Merciless. I hadn't intended to fly through it, but there was just something about it that made me keep reading. The writing was incredibly easy and fun to read and I found myself drawn in by Danielle Vega's elegantly horrific way with words. She was able to effortlessly make me fall in love with the insanely dark and sinister atmosphere that she had created and made me sympathize and relate with the odd girl out that was Brooklyn. Danielle Vega does not shy away from the blood (have I mentioned that enough this review?) but rather makes it shine by putting a spotlight on it. Never before have I read a YA book filled with so much gore, and I absolutely loved every minute of it. It was so easy to sit down and read this book about a crazy jealous girl passing off torture as trying to save a girl who she believes is possessed. The plot was fast paced and insane, the characters were unforgettable, and the writing just added the cherry on top of a wonderful horror story.

If you're looking for a YA horror book with an easy to follow plot that definitely doesn't shy away from excessive gore, then The Merciless is the book for you. It's the perfect Halloween season read with an ending that will leave you scrambling for the sequel and trust me, you don't want to miss that one either!

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