Published by Razorbill on June 12, 2014
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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 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. . . .
The Merciless by Danielle Vega is seriously one of the creepiest books I’ve read, especially for YA. I knew it was horror when I started reading it but I really didn’t expect much from it since horror is usually toned down for YA. While I felt that was the case a little bit with The Merciless, I felt it definitely lived up to the genre in creepiness.
Sofia is new to town, new to school, new to everything really. She’s used to being the new girl. What she’s not used to is having friends. When Riley, Grace, and Alexis befriend her, she jumps at the chance to be part of the popular clique. However, things start to spiral quickly. Riley believes that a fellow student, Brooklyn, is possessed and that it’s their job to get the demon out of her. What does that entail? Kidnapping, torture, and a whole lot of scary stuff. Let the fun begin.
Riley, Grace, and Alexis might be certifiably insane. The stuff they do to Brooklyn (and force Sofia to do with them) that is just plain crazy. These teenage girls are ruthless, let me tell you that. Riley is definitely the ringleader and the mastermind behind everything but Grace and Alexis are more than willing to help her kidnap and torture Brooklyn. Heck, they’re even willing to possibly kill her. These girls will go to crazy extremes to please Riley and the only thing that will please Riley is the end of Brooklyn. She may say at the beginning that she wants to help Brooklyn but it’s pretty clear what she really wants to get out of the exorcism.
Sofia is kind of hard to like. Sure, she’s forced to go along with the exorcism and I don’t hold that against her but there was always something off about her. Sofia has always been alone and so she doesn’t quite know how to act with friends or even a boyfriend. She’s kind of awkward and tries a little too hard to please people. Also, it turns out she’s hiding a pretty big secret that helps explain why she’s so hard to connect with.
Speaking of the boyfriend, he was pointless. Sure Charlie seemed like a really nice guy but that was about it. Charlie and Sofia had absolutely no chemistry and I couldn’t understand why they got together. It was really abrupt and out of nowhere. Charlie wasn’t developed enough as a character for me to really like him or want him to get with Sofia. Their relationship and their interactions just seemed like a waste.
I have to give Danielle Vega props for that ending. It’s not something you will ever see coming and it’s completely crazy. Be prepared to have your jaw drop.
Overall, The Merciless is great for the horror aspect but not so much on the character front. However, if you’re just looking for a creepy book to read, I would recommend this one. Just don’t expect too much character development.
What others are saying about The Merciless:
BookYAReview’s review: “The Merciless is a mind-twisting, fully engrossing story that had me on the edge of my seat from page one and never let me go.”
The YA Kitten’s review: “ If you’re looking for some good YA horror that makes you wonder if there are really supernatural things going on, you’ll probably want this.”