There is 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 age and anyone, all over again. It is always this way. (7)
The novel's protagonist and titular character is a fallen angel1 who has been forced to spend her time occupying a series of unsuspecting hosts, a state she refers to as "soul-jacking." Logistically it's a bit like Quantum Leap, though there's one passage in particular that reminds me very much of Stephenie Meyer's The Host.2
The novel opens with Mercy waking in the body of Carmen Zappacosta, a shy, skinny teen with a skin condition. Carmen and the rest of the girls in the St. Joseph's Chamber Choir are on their way to the small town of Paradise for an inter-school concert. In Paradise Carmen is billeted with the Daleys, who are still reeling from the loss of their daughter two years ago. Mercy figures that she has to do double-duty this time around: Carmen needs a backbone and the Daleys crave closure (especially the girl's twin brother who still believes Lauren is alive).
I have little patience for books where the protagonist is reincarnated and has unknown, possibly horrible history that haunts her dreams and a need to connect with once-and-always love who somehow remembers more of their shared history than she does (I didn't even finish Fallen by Lauren Kate), so I'm really not the best judge for this book. I will say that my annoyance with that aspect of the story dissipated the further I got into Mercy. I was significantly more interested in the Carmen/Ryan/Lauren storyline than I was in the Mercy/Luc/"them" storyline so as the momentum of the Lauren mystery increased so did my desire to read the book.
I have mixed feelings about Mercy as a character. There were times when I liked and could relate to her, but often she was repellant. For example, immediately after Mercy shares that she knows that she can make or break things for her host and that she's learned to "tread gently" she acts completely inappropriately when she meets Ryan for the first time: ogling him and telling him that she was wondering what he'd be like in bed.3
All that being said, Mercy is an interesting departure from the usual paranormal young adult novels. Mercy is the first book in a series. I probably won't read the follow-up books (the overarching storyline would continue to irritate me even if I enjoyed the focus of the individual installments), but I suspect that many readers will be eagerly awaiting their publication.
- Normally I wouldn't include this as I think its a bit of a spoiler--it is never made explicit during the course of the novel--but the publisher's blurbs all begin "A fallen angel haunted by her past" and the American cover (the one above is what I believe is the original Australian cover) features angel wings so the spoiling has really already been done.
- "For I get flashes of my girls, my hosts, my vessels, from time to time. They are with me, but quiescent, docile. [...] Some do occasionally make their way to the surface--like divers who have run out of air, breaking above the waterline clawing and grasping--before simply winking out because the effort is too great to sustain." (17)
Oh, and the ending as well.
- page 25