It’s not every day that I pick up a book that makes me squirm. I have a pretty tough stomach for creepiness and violence and all that good stuff. I love shows like Dexter, have been known to watch horror movies alone in the dark, and one of my fave films when I was in high school was The Craft. (Still love it, BTW.) THE MERCILESS by Danielle Vega made me a little barfy. And I think it was good barfy, if there’s such a thing. It’s a send-up to Mean Girls taken to an extreme, with a side of Bible thumping and a little exorcism for flavor.
Sofia is the new girl in town, and, since her mother is in the military, she’s been the new girl a lot. Her past few experiences as the new girl have been pretty terrible, actually. She’s used to being mercilessly bullied. And she’s expecting about the same here, in this sweet southern suburb, until the queen bee Riley and her posse of popular girls take her under their collective wing. Sofia has also befriended outcast Brooklyn. And with all these new friends on her side, she thinks she’s got it pretty sweet. But Riley has a serious hate-on for Brooklyn, who apparently used to be part of the cool crowd. She’s changed — so much that Riley has become convinced that she’s possessed. And Riley’s obsessed with Brooklyn is about to lead Sofia and her new friends down a dark, terrifying path. A path that leads to an abandoned house that once was their girlie hangout and has now become the place where Riley & Co. plan to exorcize “demons” from Brooklyn by any means necessary. And Sofia will have to either prove her loyalty or end up the next one tied up in the basement. THE MERCILESS is probably one of the most scary YA novels I’ve read in a while. It’s not scary in the way that Nancy Holder is scary, or the way that Lois Duncan is scary. This is scary in the way that Stephen King at his goriest is scary . This is CARRIE on Steroids. Heathers meets Hostel. No punches are pulled. Nothing happens “off screen,” and the reader isn’t spared details. If you’re looking to have your blood curdled anytime soon, this is the book for you.