Friday, April 8, 2011

Mercy by Rebecca Lim

Title: Mercy
Author: Rebecca Lim
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion/Hyperion
Release Date: May 17th, 2011
Pages: 269 pages (Adobe Digital Editions document)
How I Got the Book: From the publisher through NetGalley (and thank you very much for that!)

Mercy in an exile from heaven with shattered memories of who she used to be. She's doomed to "wake" repeatedly on earth in a new body, each time assuming a new life. During the day she survives in the human world on instinct and at night her dreams are haunted by her lost love, who pleads with her to find him.

But this time is different. When Mercy wakes up she meets Ryan, an eighteen-year-old reeling from the loss of his twin sister, Lauren, who was kidnapped two years ago. Only Mercy and Ryan believe his sister is still alive. For the first time since she can remember, Mercy has a purpose: she can help. So she doesn't understand why the man in her dreams cautions her not to interfere. But as Ryan and Mercy come closer to solving the mystery of Lauren's disappearance, danger looms just one step behind.

Will Mercy be able to harness her extraordinary power in time?

The first in a dazzling new series, Mercy masterfully weaves romance, mystery and the supernatural into a spell-binding tale that readers will devour.


For Mercy, it's normal to wake up and have no idea who she is or where she is. She's cursed to souljack the bodies of teenage girls for a reason unknown to her and not knowing what else she can do, she tries to help the girl she is possessing. This time around, Mercy is now Carmen Zappacosta, an eczema-afflicted soprano with a gifted voice. On a trip with her chorus group to Paradise, Mercy rooms with the Daley family and discovers their plight: Their daughter Lauren disappeared two years ago and hasn't been seen since. Her brother Ryan is desperately looking for her and believing this is part of why she's here, Mercy helps him. The key to it all is the music they hear; will they find Lauren before something worse happens?

Right off the bat, I came to like Mercy. Hardened by the many hardships she's lived while possessing other girls and all the time that has passed, she has to rely on her own strength to get by and do as she thinks is best. She doesn't let romance and hormones cloud her thoughts and even when the man she loves tries to tell her what to do, she doesn't let what he says dictate what she does. Her almost single-minded drive to find Lauren keep the pacing of the book from slowing down too much and becoming boring. (This may just be me, but I always have a soft spot for heroines that know their sarcastic quips well the way Mercy does.) For people tired of the trend in young adult paranormals where the heroine puts her guy above everything else, then Mercy is the perfect heroine for you! We need more girls like these in the genre right now!

However, I didn't like the way Mercy's strength as a heroine and a woman was emphasized by the weakness of the supporting female characters. There were only two other girls that got semi-regular page time: Tiffany and Brenda. Tiffany is jealous of Carmen and constantly puts her down; Brenda's got a one-track mind on her ex-boyfriend Ryan and at one point says to Mercy/Carmen, "Maybe you're not such a waste of space, after all." This is NOT OKAY, okay? It is possible to create a strong heroine without turning all the girls around her into evil little harpies. It always disappoints me to see such a great heroine and then be let down by the way other girls are characterized. A strong female novel is defined by all of the girls in the story, not just the heroine.

The descriptions of the town of Paradise are understated and work perfectly, keeping the novel from becoming overfluffed with unneeded description. Sometimes, this isn't always for the best; a few scenes needed rereads just so I could figure out what was going on there. The high points are definitely the descriptions of Mercy/Carmen's chorus/choir practices, the way everyone's dropped jaws and amazement are described while Mercy and Carmen's combined voices soar and sound downright (excuse the pun) angelic. Something knew what they were talking about or at least had some fun with it!

Tired of romance overtaking a fresh plot in young adult paranormals? Mercy ignores that stereotype too. Romance is so far on the backburner that forgetting about it wasn't hard. Ryan isn't always a sweetheart and I wondered what Mercy saw in him sometimes, but I came to like him by the end and the ending just about broke my heart. In general, I'm not a big romance girl. I read young adult romance more than is probably healthy, but I rarely ever care about it because love is not a concern for me. I love coming across books that make me care where their romance goes and I feel like they might even last in the long run.
Hints are dropped throughout the book about who took Lauren but pinning down exactly who did it is difficult. Everyone acts suspiciously at one point or another and for a while, that kept me guessing.Whether you figure it out halfway through or have no idea until the big reveal, the culprit's identity is a shock. And the other little inklings of plots in why Mercy has to souljack people and who the Eight and Luc are? If you were looking forward to those, they aren't heavily touched on, left to be covered in the next two books, Exile and Muse.

This book almost gave me hope for the angel genre, but I've decided now that I'm an one-hundred percent through with angel books. I'll keep following this series to see how everything ends and discover more about Mercy's situation, but no more new angel books for me. No more! But I look forward to seeing Mercy, Ryan, and hopefully Lauren (I want to see how she recovers and acts in the outside world after what she's been through) again when Exile comes out on... Well, whenever it comes out in the US. Anyone looking for a young adult paranormal not ruled by romance and constantly-boy-minded girls might want to check this out.

4 stars!

What am I reading next?: Putting Makeup on Dead People by Jen Violi