The Merciless by Danielle Vega



The Merciless
Author: Danielle Vega
Published: June 12th, 2014 by Razorbill (TODAY!)

Summary: 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…
In this chilling debut, Danielle Vega delivers blood-curdling suspense and terror on every page. By the shockingly twisted end, readers will be faced with the most haunting question of all: Is there evil in all of us?

Review: My skin crawls as I try to determine what I should write for this review. I started this book in my car. My son was sleeping in the car seat, and I didn’t want to wake him. Once he woke up, I didn’t want to leave the car. I read through all of his naps and kept reading after he went to bed. I couldn’t handle the suspense! The back of this book says, “For mature audiences only,” and I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that there is a lot of violence and a lot of blood. I am not an avid reader of the horror genre, but I greatly enjoyed getting sucked into this story. It isn’t just a simple horror novel, either. Readers will truly ponder evil and whether it exists within us all.

Teacher’s Tools for Navigation: Danielle Vega does an excellent job showing group think (or mob mentality). I would ask students to research this topic and consider why humans are naturally inclined to follow a group. They might consider times in history when group think was detrimental and dangerous. This is a psychological thriller, and students will likely enjoy investigating the power balance and actions between the girls in this book.

Discussion Questions: How does religion influence the girls’ decisions and actions? What role does religion play in the book?; Which characters are truly evil?; Do you agree with Sofia’s decisions at the end of the book? What might you do differently, and why?

We Flagged: “It’s a cat. A dead cat. Skin’s been peeled away from the cat’s body in strips. Flies buzz around its head and inside its mouth, crawling over its tongue and teeth. Red paint clings to the stiff grass beneath the cat’s body, and candles surround it, cemented to the ground in pools of black wax. It takes a minute for me to see that the paint is in the shape of a star, with a black candle at each point—like a ritual” (7).

Please note: The above quotes are from the Advanced Reader Copy. The quotes may change when the book is published.

Read This If You Loved: Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake, Anything by Stephen King

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