11/07/2014

Review: The Merciless {Danielle Vega}


★★★★☆
Written by Danielle Vega
Amazon | Book Depository 

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 the dank basement walls knows she's there. No one can hear her scream. Sofia knows she shouldn't have gotten involved, but she believed her friends when they said they wanted to help Brooklyn; that they wanted to save her. Sofia didn't realise they thought she was possessed. Now the girls are performing an exorcism, but their idea of exorcism is closer to torture than salvation. All Sofia wants is to get out of that house. But there is no way out. And she can't go against the others, not unless she wants to be next.
 
This book was a lot more brutal than I anticipated, and the horror-fan in me loved that. There were parts that genuinely freaked me out, made me do a double-take and, at times, widen my eyes and swear explicitly.

Peer pressure is a big thing in this book and it was actually the creepiest part. Riley is the ringleader of this group of misguided girls, the genius behind this DIY exorcism, and also the most sadistic of the bunch. What is most scary isn't Riley's determination that this is the right thing to do, her twisted view that Brooklyn can be saved through this 'religious ceremony', but that her friends are willing to follow her lead.

They don't question her tactics and even when it's evident that the whole thing has gone too far, when a line has so very clearly been crossed, they don't speak up. They don't object. They simply do what she says, even if it makes them uncomfortable. That, my friends, was pretty scary.

Sofia is the only one who dares to object, but even she is too scared to go against Riley completely. She's terrified that if she says something, the girls will deem her evil and in need of saving too. And that fear makes Sofia, who is so clearly disgusted by this whole situation, do a lot of questionable things. But credit to her, she does try to help Brooklyn behind the girls' backs and tries her best to get them both out of that house alive. 

This book throws in quite a few curveballs, which make you second-guess not only your own sanity, but also Sofia's. She's a pretty unreliable narrator in a lot of respects, prone to hallucinations and so ravaged by the guilt of her past, that you can never really trust her supposed truths or anything she tells us she is seeing. 

In fact, you can never trust anything any of these girls say. It's only when the end nears that all of their equally disgusting and horrific sins come out and we get to know the type of people they truly are.

Sofia's reveal, right at the very end, was sensationally well done and definitely the most chilling. In fact, the ending in general was great. I'll admit I did see some of it coming, but there were parts that surprised me and I just loved that Vega didn't feel the need to go for a 'happily ever after'. This book was so much better because it dared to end the way all good horrors should.

The beginning, though peppered with creepy scenes was at times a little shallow and slow. But once we were thrown into the darkness of the house with Brooklyn in the basement, the book took on a sinister edge that I was grateful for. This is brimming with eeriness and splattered with gore, a slow tension smoking through the chapters that works perfectly to build up the suspense and paranoia.

"Now you're one of us. Now you're saved." 


Allie has planned out a trio of marvellous desserts for Valentine's weekend. She'll be baking up a storm for love day! And that's not just a metaphor, because when she bakes, the kitchen ends up looking like it's been hit by a hurricane. But hey, the sugar makes the clean-up all worth while.
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28 comments:

  1. Oh wow! You have me convinced! I was a little skeptical of this one since it proclaims some pretty scary stuff, yet it's a pink cover. I thought it would be a sort of girly novel trying to be scary! Glad to hear that's wrong! Will definitely have to get this one because I clearly don't have enough in my TBR mountain! LOL!

    Great review!!

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    1. I think the pink is kind of a contrast to the heavy material. It's a bit tongue-in-cheek IMO and I love that about it :D

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  2. Ooh this sounds super intense. I'm really curious! I saw a copy at the bookstore and I just love the look and feel of the physical book, which is always a bonus reason to purchase!

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    1. It's a great cover and I love how simple it is. How it combines such girlie colours with the simple pentagram. It's kind of eerie in its subtlety!

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  3. Oh my, this sounds absolutely amazing and I can't wait to read it! IT sounds really twisted and evil and fascinating. I just love YA Thrillers, especially the ones that have the ability to scare me. I can't wait to read this book. Excellent review Allie!

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    1. It was such a cool read, Jeann! I haven't read a nice gory horror in so long and this was such a surprise as I really didn't expect it to be as intense as it was!

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  4. Oh my, that sounds WONDERFUL. I didn't think I need this book until right now. It sounds a little bit out of my comfort zone, but I'm willing to take that risk. Amazing review, Allie!

    Marianne @ Boricuan Bookworms.

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    1. You should, you should! It's one of those books that just completely takes you by surprise. It started off seeming like every other typical YA novel trying a little too hard, but DAMN once it got going the freakiness ensued

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  5. This books sounds like a horror/thriller book done right. I want to be horrified, creeped out, disgusted and scared by what I read because hey, that's why I'm expecting when I pick up a horror/thriller book. Great review, Allie!

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    1. I love that feeling of being completely creeped out by books and it's not a feeling I've had before. I'm not easily scared (I'm such a horror buff), but there were a few parts in this that creeped me out!

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  6. I'm reading this one right now Allie, and I'm really creeped out to say the least! I'm really interested to seeing where it goes though! Rarely do we have thrillers in the YA genre that are actually genuinely scary and horrifying, you know? Thanks for sharing, and, as always, BRILLIANT review! <3 Glad this worked for you!

    ~ Zoe @ The Infinite To-Read Shelf

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    1. Yeeees! I saw your review!! Hehe, glad it freaked you out a little. I was surprised it managed to creep me out at all (I'm so hardcore normally :P). There are some really gory parts aren't there? Like the FINGER thing? DUDE. *Shudders*

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  7. This is one of those reviews that makes me even more excited to read the book in question. I didn't realize peer pressure would be such a big part of the plot, and I agree that it can be incredibly scary. And an unreliable narrator? I need this book right now. Or maybe I should wait until October, since this seems like more of a fall book. Either way, thanks for your informative review!

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    1. It was just crazy to see the blind faith these girls had in Riley and how they were so scared to go against her, even when it was clear that things had gone to a whole new level of insane. It was beyond crazy to see

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  8. When I looked at the cover, I definitely didn't expect it to be this crazy! To be honest, I think I'm little bit to scared to read this but it sounds pretty good. If I ever have time, maybe for Halloween, I'll pick this up! Lovely review Allie!

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    1. Ohhh it'd be perfect for Halloween! Make sure you're alone in the house and are reading it by torch-light ;)

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  9. I've not heard of this but it sounds so, so creepy! Maybe even too much so for me, but I want to give it a go anyway!

    Mands @ The Bookish Manicurist

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    1. It's not actually that creepy lol, but there are some gory bits (what with them basically torturing Brooklyn and all). If your squeamish beware *evil cackle*

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  10. ooo, this sounds amazing! mysterious and creepy, i love it. how come i haven't know this one existed - i'm adding it to my TBR!
    Boyanna @The Bookmaidens

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    1. It's a nice find in a sea of YA romance novels and definitely offers something new!

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  11. I'm usually terrible with super creepy books, and it sounds like this one really takes the cake for scary, so I might hold off for now, haha. But I'm glad to hear you enjoy this! I feel like if you're going to write a creepy book, you might as well go all the way and sounds like this book did that. Thanks for the review!

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    1. Haha, it's not thaaaaat creepy, but it can be a bit bloody (there's this one incident with . . . ah, you know what, I can't talk about it because EW) :P

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  12. I definitely need to read this one! I had been on the fence, though it is on my TBR. I like the idea that the author went all-in with the creepiness and such. And I am kind of in the mood for creepy! So yeah, this is moving up on my to-buy list for sure :)

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    1. I'm always in the mood for creepy – I'm a total horror buff! I hope you enjoy it :)

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  13. I've been seeing so many mixed reviews for this one I just don't know what to think anymore! If there's one thing everyone seems to agree on, though, it's that this is a true YA horror -- something I've been looking for since forever. Other YA horror books are just lacking on so many different levels; they're not even scary, most of the time! But yup, the horror freak in me just loves the sound of all the gruesome and gory details this book has.

    I feel like peer pressure is a topic many books have but don't cover sufficiently enough, which is another reason why The Merciless sounds so different and intriguing. And like you pointed out, it's both amazing and scary how far peer pressure can influence someone into doing something horrible, like performing an exorcism on an innocent girl. That being said, I'm super curious about Riley. Like, what sort of power does she have over all these people that they're willing to do such things? I mean, I don't think popularity is a good enough reason, but what do I know about the social ladder in high school. :P

    A lot of other reviewers have pointed out how this book lacked a lot of character development, though. Did that bother you at all when you read this? I'm fine with plot-driven books, but it would of course be a huge plus if the characters were nicely fleshed-out... It seems like the characters here were pretty flat and cliche.

    Either way, I'm still hoping to give this one a go because I just need some good horror. Maybe I'll buy it on Kindle to save money, haha! Brilliant review, Allie. :D

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    1. The lack of character development . . . well, I mean, this book mostly takes place over the course of a few days, so how much development is, realistically, feasible? Plus, I don't think there needs to be development; this isn't about people redeeming themselves or us slowly learning to love these characters, this is a quite brutal story of them torturing a girl for religious reasons. In that respect, I don't think characters changing over time is relevant because a) there is no time to change and b) it doesn't serve the story.
      The characters do have depth and great pasts though :)

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  14. I hadn't even heard of this book but I feel like I want to go out and buy it and read it right now. I am a total wimp and would be easily freaked out by this book, but I think I would like that about it. This sounds like a book that could keep me guessing and have me doubting everyone - I loved that with Abigail Haas's Dangerous Girls and have wanted to read something else like that ever since. Brilliant review :)

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    1. Oh, really?! I'm surprised, because it seems to be doing the rounds on a few books lately! You'll love it; it was a nice mix of gore and mystery, with even a few laughs

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