Wednesday, November 25, 2015

The Merciless

* spoilers *

Sofia Flores moves to a new school in hopes of a new start. Her old school was full of people who just love to ridicule her. When Riley's overly religious, popular group accepts her, Sofia couldn't be happier. They drink together, have sleepovers, and seem genuinely nice. Brooklyn is nice too, but Riley's group hates her for some reason. They used to be friends and had some sort of falling out. Brooklyn is everything Riley and her group isn't, but it isn't until Sofia sees Riley's boyfriend with Brooklyn. She's just being a good friend. She ever expected Riley to tie Brooklyn up in the basement and try to exorcise her. Now Sofia is torn between siding with her friends and their religious fanaticism or saving Brooklyn from who knows what torture awaits her.

Sofia right from the beginning is kind of desperate for acceptance. She faced humiliation at every turn at her old school and she just wants a new start where she can be happy. Riley, Grace, and Alexis accept her right away. She gets the high school experience she has always wanted: sleepovers, illicit drinking, and real girlfriends to pour her heart out to. They also happen to be weirdly religious. More on that later. Brooklyn is also an interesting friend. She takes her to get piercing and tattoos, not caring what the more conventional girls think (even though they drink and have no real room to throw stones). One day, Sofia sees Brooklyn all over Riley's sort of boyfriend. She feels more loyalty to Riley's group, so she tells Riley about it. She had no idea that their next sleepover would include Brooklyn tied up and bleeding in a vacant house with all the exits locked or nailed shut.

The excuse for Brooklyn's imprisonment is that a demon is inside her, making her do horrible things. Four girls who play lip service to religion and with no connection to the church, no guidance, and no knowledge are going to exorcise the demon out of her. Riley is the toxic queen bee of the mean girls group and wastes no time going all Hostel on that poor girl. Brooklyn is stabbed with knives, burned with matches, and almost drowned in a tub among other horrific things. Who knew teenage girls coud be so vicious? Riley is obviously the ringleader and delights in the pain she inflicts. The other girls are not quite so gleeful, but follow nonetheless. It's a sick game of follow the leader and the only one conflicted is Sofia who infuriatingly does next to nothing to stop her through most of the novel. Riley employs classic bullying techniques to keep everyone in  line: threaten opponents with the same treatment, say opponents are possessed by demons as well, and cut off all exits in the house. This situation is the classic example of the majority witch-hunting the minority who is different whether it's because of religion or dress or any other random thing.

The very ending is complete and utter bullshit. Apparently, Brooklyn really is possessed by demons. Just ignore that Riley is obviously a total socio/psychopath who doesn't think twice about victimizing someone for something pretty minor, threatening her friends, and bullying anyone who gets in her way. The ending is supremely stupid and says that Riley was right to do all these awful things. It seriously disgusts me and I will never read anything by Danielle Vega ever again. Up until the very end, the story was a rather interesting look into mean girls to the extreme. One other flaw is that there's simply no suspense. It's the book version of the Saw films. No build up or actual creepiness. Just descriptions of torture which does not make good horror.  

My rating: 2/5 fishmuffins

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