I received this book as an ARC through Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.
Did you ever start watching a movie thinking that the ideas and the plot sounded really interesting only to discover that the movie wasn’t quite strong enough to carry the all the ideas it was trying to. You can see where the plot is trying to go, but it never quite gets there, or if it does it does so in such a fractured and disjointed way that you felt left behind long before the ending is reached. This is how I felt about this book. It seemed like an interesting concept, and it started off pretty interesting, but by the end it had fallen apart for me.
The characters were interesting, but I found them frustrating. The answer to the big question for a part of the book seemed so obvious to me, but it wasn’t until I was ready to scream at the main character that the reason they weren’t able to find the really blatant answer. It made sense, but I would have liked a bit more leading up to that point. I found Merciful to be annoyingly dense at times, and while I understand she had a limited education, and limited social interactions, but the way she seemed to believe anything and everything people told her drove me crazy. She didn’t seem able to process information, and form her own opinions. She thinks about how she doesn’t necessarily trust different players, but when they tell her things she just seems to go along with it even when information she is given is contradictory. If she really doesn’t trust anyone why is she believing everything they seem to say no matter what? It just never made sense to me.
The other characters are interesting, but they seem to fit roles more than they are actual people. Her brother is the half wild boy, her neighbor the wise old woman, and the half crazy lady in the mountains. Even when the “angels” come in they only add confusion to the story. The second “angel” especially just muddied the waters of the story. It was like his story line just came in too late to make sense, or add much to the story. It felt like it was a big part of the story, and should have been worked in better from the beginning. I actually felt that way about the first “angel” as well. It felt like there was more there I should have known about earlier. It felt like the angel story line was never quite as developed as it should have been, and the parallels between it and Merciful’s world never quite came together. I could see where they were supposed to, and I could infer some, but it wasn’t as fully formed as I would have liked especially considering it was a major plot point.
The ending felt a bit rushed, and dragged out at the same time. It was a rush to get there, and when we finally do there’s a lot of talking in circles. She talks to one player, believes them. Talks to another player, believes them, and so on and so forth. Then she finally takes action, and it makes no sense to me considering what came before, and her personality. I can see what impact the author wanted this ending to have, but nothing that came before was strong enough to make me invested enough in the story for me to care. If the plot lines had worked better, and the characters more consistent and complex it might have worked, but as the story stands now it didn’t.