In spite of the fact that every new town and every new school offers Sofia a new chance to fit in, the constant moving makes it hard to make – and keep – friends. When her mother moves the family to a town literally called “Friend,” though, things start looking up.
On her first day at school, Sofia meets Riley, Grace, and Alexis. The girls are fun and friendly and immediately welcome Sofia into their group as if she’s always been part of it. But Sofia soon learns that the girls – Riley in particular – are overly interested in another classmate. This girl, Brooklyn, used to be their friend. They say though that Brooklyn has changed. That Brooklyn is different. That Brooklyn is evil. With Riley at the helm, the group decides that they must save Brooklyn from her sins and Sofia is forced to make a horrible decision.
The Merciless is disturbing on so many levels. First, Sofia’s desire to fit in leaves her in quite an unfortunate position. She’s easily manipulated and follows Riley’s lead from the start. Second, the book begins by making the reader believe one thing when by the end we discover something quite different is going on: it’s all horrific, but the twist takes the book to a whole different level.
I did find that the story jumped a little too quickly into the action. I wasn’t sure I believed that Sofia would let herself fall so easily into Riley’s plans – or as quickly as she did. Further insight into her character did somewhat prove me wrong but a bit more focus on the character development earlier in the story would have been much more effective, in my opinion. All in all it left me on the fence about the book. On the one hand it reminded me a lot of the 90s horror I grew up on, so there was a definite nostalgic appeal. On the other hand the plot seemed much more focused on overall shock value than on believable and well-rounded characters.
11/14 Becky LeJeune
THE MERCILESS by Danielle Vega. Razorbill (June 12, 2014). ISBN: 978-1595147226. 336p.