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Review: Mercy

Mercy by Rebecca Lim was released in the U.S. on Tuesday, May 17, 2011 in hardcover and eBook formats. It is currently available online in both formats at Amazon and in hardcover format at Barnes & Noble.

Published by Hyperion Books for Children, an imprint of the Disney Book Group, the hardcover is 288 pages.

The Australian edition, first published by HarperCollins on October 28, 2010, is also available online at Amazon in paperback and eBook formats.

Goodreads description:

A fallen angel haunted by her past. Yearning for her immortal beloved. Forever searching for answers. Who will show her Mercy?

Mercy has lost herself. She can’t count how many times she’s “woken up” in a new body, and assumed a new life, only to move on again and again. During the day she survives in the human world on instinct and at night her dreams are haunted by him. Mercy’s heart would know him anywhere. But her memory refuses to cooperate.

But this time is different. When Mercy wakes up she meets Ryan, an eighteen year old reeling from the loss of his twin sister who was kidnapped two years ago. Everyone else has given up hope, but Ryan believes his sister is still alive. Using a power she doesn’t fully comprehend, Mercy realizes that Ryan is right. His sister is alive and together they can find her. 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 dark mystery of his sister’s disappearance, danger looms just one step behind.

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

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

***

I woke up again. But this time feels different. The girl whose body I’m currently occupying, Carmen, isn’t anything special, but somehow this time just feels unlike those other times and those other girls.

I wish I could remember more about them. I wish I could remember more about me. I know that I’m not this petite, or this plain looking. It feels strange occupying the shell of someone so much smaller than I know me to be. And I know I’m not as shy and awkward as I can sense this girl is.

This time it seems I’m headed to a small town called Paradise. Something about the name triggers a memory, but I’m confident I’ve never been here before. Well, as confident as anyone who doesn’t really remember too much of her past.

There’s a reason for her, this Carmen, to be here – some kind of singing event. Do I even sing? What’s my reason for being here now, with this girl? Carmen isn’t like those other girls. I don’t feel that same sadness. I don’t sense any threat to her. So, why am I here? What has changed this time around?

If only Luc would just tell me. The dreams I have of him offer me no insight into what’s happening to me and why. His words only leave me with more questions. His visits bring me no closer to knowing the truth. But I do know, with everything inside of me, that I want to find him.

Maybe my time with this Carmen, here in Paradise, will finally give me the answers I need.

***

Mercy is a superbly written and rather unique paranormal mystery. The main character, Mercy, knows little of who, and what, she is or the reason why she’s being made to take over each of these girls, again and again. She is forced to move from one to the next when her time with them is up, with no notice of each departure, and only a vague recollection of where she’s been.

This first book in the trilogy begins when she “wakes up” as Carmen Zappacosta, a soprano, headed with a bunch of other students to Paradise to prepare for a performance.

Mercy slowly gains awareness of what has happened, but with only an inkling of she who really is. What she does know is that she must figure out her purpose for becoming Carmen and surmises that it has little to do with Carmen herself, but rather the Daley family who Carmen is staying with in Paradise.

As Mercy tries to solve the mystery of Lauren Daley’s disappearance she is also determined to find out just who she is.

While little is revealed about Mercy in this first installment, enough of a glimpse is given to tease readers into wanting to find out more. The mystery behind Lauren’s disappearance is the focus in this story and is both engaging and heartbreaking as Mercy tries to find answers to help this family who is torn apart by the not knowing, the mistrust and their loss.

Mercy is a story that starts out somewhat unconventionally, but settles onto a path that is easy to follow and will keep readers engaged. Once the backstory is established, the pace picks up and the tension builds as it heads toward a climactic finish with a cliffhanger ending.

Author Rebecca Lim’s writing style is beautiful, but may not be one that all readers will connect with at the outset. But as the story continues, the cadence of the author’s writing makes sense and works in harmony with the storyline.

There are several characters who remain a mystery in this first book, but will likely play a larger role in subsequent books. And while Mercy starts out as a very difficult character to relate to, she ends up being one who is very likable and sympathetic.

Mercy is a great beginning for a trilogy that promises an even more elaborate mystery, a real battle for Mercy to regain what she once had, and a heartrending love story.

Reviewer gives this book [rating=4]

On a personal note:

Mercy was a book that I grew to love more and more as I read on. About one-third of the way in I was hooked on the story, and by the end I was dying to know more.

I wish I had read the description more carefully before I actually started the book as it would have helped me out during those first five pages that make up chapter one where I felt completely lost.

By the end of the third chapter I was able to get into the rhythm of the author’s writing and was completely pulled into the mystery of not only the missing girl but of who exactly Mercy was.

There was just something about the author’s writing style that I connected with. The way she crafted each sentence, each passage, just made this story so easy for me to become immersed. It might not be a style that every reader will relate to, but was one I really loved once I got further into the book.

I was able to get lost in the story, even with the British words and punctuation in the version I had for review. I’m not sure how much will be changed in the version released in the U.S. but I am curious to see if those changes alter the feel and pace of the story.

This first book in the trilogy does not reveal much about Mercy’s past and only touches on the paranormal elements to the story. But what was teased is very intriguing. I would definitely have liked to know more about Mercy in this book, but am hopeful that the next book in the series, Exile, will be more revealing.

I loved puzzling together this mystery and discovering that my guesses were right. And I like the hint of a love story that starts to develop. I hope that continues into the next book. And I really loved this completely different approach used by the author in having Mercy sort of take over someone’s life for a short period of time for reasons unknown, even by the character herself.

This book was completely unexpected, in a good way, and is a series I will be following to its end. I’ve just got to find out what happens next and learn more about Mercy. And I definitely suggest reading past the first few chapters before making a determination about this book.

***

Book trailer for Mercy:

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Thank you to Hyperion Books for Children and NetGalley for the eARC for review.

Note: The eARC received for review was written using British punctuation and spellings and seems to be the published 2010 Australian version.

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