Book Review, Young Adult

Book Review: Mercy by Rebecca Lim

An electric combination of angels, mystery and romance, MERCY is the first book in a major new paranormal series. 

There’s something very wrong with me. I can’t remember who I am or how old I am, or even how I got here. All I know is that when I wake up, I could be any one. It is always this way. There’s nothing I can keep with me that will stay. It’s made me adaptable. I must always re-establish ties. I must tread carefully or give myself away. I must survive. 

Mercy doesn’t realise it yet, but as she journeys into the darkest places of the human soul, she discovers that she is one of the celestial host exiled with fallen angel, Lucifer. Now she must atone for taking his side. To find her own way back to heaven, Mercy must help a series of humans in crisis and keep the unwary from getting caught up in the games that angels play. Ultimately she must choose between her immortal companion, Lucifer, and a human boy who risks everything for her love. (from Goodreads.com)

The moment I read the above synopsis I was drawn to this book. Angels may well be the new vampires, but this sounded very different. I was right, Mercy is extraordinarily different and from page to page I had no idea what to expect.
The book begins with Mercy waking up in a stranger’s body. She doesn’t know where or who she is, only that this happens again and again. She has no idea why this happens or whom she was before her constant journeying from host to host began.  This time she’s in the body of quiet misfit Carmen, aboard a coach with the school choir visiting another school in order to perform with them. The students are placed with local families during their stay, only Carmen seems to have drawn the short straw and finds herself placed with the tragic Daley’s whose own daughter and local star soprano, Lauren, mysteriously disappeared two years ago. Drawn to angry and vengeful brother Ryan, Mercy feels she has been sent here for a purpose, but what exactly will that be?
I was sucked in to this book immediately by the beautifully tragic prose Lim uses in her opening chapters as Mercy finds herself falling into Carmen’s life. It’s almost poetic and completely captured my imagination. I was all set for something truly amazing. However I was quickly surprised to see the book taking a different path from what I had originally presumed from the synopsis. The main focus of this book is the mystery of Lauren’s disappearance and although Mercy discovers some pretty amazing powers on her journey, the paranormal element is a definite undertone.
That isn’t to say this was a bad thing, I thoroughly enjoyed the mystery, which in itself was gripping and well executed. I thought Lim imagined the overwhelming despair and depression of Lauren’s parents perfectly to the point I could feel the weight of it as I read. Ryan is also perfectly crafted as the brother angry at a world who has now wrote his sister off as dead but refuses to stop believing. I particularly enjoyed the developing trust and tenderness between Mercy and Ryan. In contrast to many other YA Paranormal characters, there’s almost no romance between the two. It’s built on respect and trust, and while Mercy does mention a couple of times feeling attracted to him, that’s as far as it goes. Again this relationship completey sets apart this book from many others on the market.
However I felt the synopsis may have been a little misleading and is possibly an overview for the whole series rather than this book. It’s actually only from reading this that I know what Mercy is, as by the end of the book although closer to knowing the truth, she’s still in the dark. There’s no mention at all of Lucifer, although we do get brief glimpses through her dreams of a mysterious Luc (who could possibly be Lucifer?), and other possible fallen angels, though it’s all very vague. Again, if it wasn’t for the synopsis I wouldn’t really have had a clue who or what these beings may be and found this confusing. I also felt Carmen, Mercy’s human host could have been expanded upon and would have liked to know more about her other than she could sing. It seemed to me a shame to hijack this characters life and induce some attachment to her, and then discard her without any thought. 
At just 270 pages of quite large text, the problem may be that there was just too much story left uncovered. This almost felt like two different books at times, the mystery of Lauren’s disappearance being one, then the occasional vague and confusing celestial thread another. It’s a very complex plot and pretty amazing how so much was fitted into relatively few pages. On the upside, this made the book a very easy and breathtaking read and rarely lost pace. On the other side though it did leave me feeling confused at times. Rereading my review I’m left wondering if the series was written as a book, but then someone decided to split it?

For the most part, despite the flaws, I very much enjoyed reading this book (more than my review may indicate) and think the series does have  huge potential. Rebecca Lim uses language beautifully and evokes emotions and imagery very well. I was gripped by the unpredictability of the story and never knew where things were heading. I read the book in two sittings and will certainly be following Mercy’s story in the future, as the book tells us at the end, Mercy awakes in May 2011. 

5 thoughts on “Book Review: Mercy by Rebecca Lim”

  1. This is such a well written review. I don't honestly know all that much about this book but thought that it looked pretty good. After your review I think that I won't bother buying a copy – Emma from Asamum has offered to lend it to me so I think I'll give it a shot that way instead.

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  2. A really interesting review Vicki. I had read the back of the book a couple of times in book shops and ummed and ahhed about buying it. I feel like I've had enough angel fiction although it actually sounds like that is a minor if not fully explored part of the novel. I think I will wait for the trade paperback or borrow it from the library. I do like the sound of the mystery but I can wait a while to read this. Thanks for sharing. Made me happy I didn't spend my voucher on it in large format.

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  3. I do love a good mystery and just reading your wonderful review had me imagining lots of possibilities for future books. I love the summary and would read this based on it alone, but after reading your review I am definitely going to get this one.

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  4. I saw this one in a bookshop a couple of weeks ago and nearly bought it but changed my mind at the last minute. Now I wish I had! I love the sound of it and your review has definitely got me intrigued. I definitely think I'm going to have to check this one out 🙂

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