Series: Mercy #2
Published by Disney-Hyperion on April 23, 2013
Genres: YA, YA Paranormal
Source: Bought (Used Bookstore)
Mercy is an angel in exile and is doomed to return repeatedly to Earth, taking on a new human form each time she does. Now she "wakes" as unhappy teen Lela, a girl caring for her dying mother but never herself.
As Mercy's shattered memory begins to return, she remembers Ryan, the boy she fell in love with in another life, and Luc, the angel haunting her dreams. Will Mercy risk Lela’s life to be reunited with her heart’s true desire?
An electric combination of angels, mystery and romance, Exile is the second book in the undeniably mesmerizing Mercy series.
Diversity Rating: 2 – It’s a Start!
Racial-Ethnic: 2 (Cecilia is Filipina and speaks in broken English; Sulaiman is a Muslim man from North Africa)
Disability: 1 (Lela’s mom has terminal cancer in, I believe, her intestines)
Intersectionality: 1 (Lela and her mom are dirt poor)
(vague description of violence against animals in the book)
Another series, another sequel I didn’t get to read until years after I read the first book. The gap between Mercy and Exile sets a new record for me: SIX YEARS! Well, I sure didn’t know the difference once I started Exile and found myself unable to put it down. Why can’t all sequels improve upon their predecessors so well and hook me as solidly as this one did?
After rescuing two girls, Mercy gets yanked out of Carmen’s body and put into the body of Lela Neill, a miserable girl who works in a cruddy cafe in Melbourne, Australia for little money and has to watch her mother wither away thanks to end-stage terminal cancer. Mercy adapts just as quickly as you’d expect her to given that she’s changing lives all the time, though her excuse of “degenerative brain disease” to someone who asks why “Lela” suddenly doesn’t know things she should is a bit much.
So this was one of four books I took with me to dogsit for a family friend for seven hours, but Exile was the book I couldn’t put down and read from start to finish while there. While reading, the notebook I’d brought with me in case I felt inspired to write reviews? I filled up an entire page with academic-esque notes about the book and its themes.
THIS IS NOT SOMETHING I DO FOR EVERY YA BOOK. I haven’t taken notes on a book like this since college and that’s because I had to in order to make writing my eventual paper easier on me. Exile was just a read for fun and yet I now have a page full of analysis, parallels, and predictions for the series.
Anyway. Entitled men are all over this book: stripper Justine’s ex-boyfriend continues to stalk and harass her after she escaped their abusive relationship; one of Lela’s customers clearly had a thing for her before Mercy came along and his feelings only escalate over the course of the book. In contrast, we have Franklin, who feels abused by his family’s rampant spending and becomes suicidal when he loses his high-paying job. It’s Mercy’s kindness that saves his life, but its ripple effect complicates her life, to say the least.
Being that the gals of the book are surrounded by guys who feel entitled to them, it’s hard not to see how both Luc and the Eight abuse Mercy in their own ways. Whatever Mercy and Luc did while they were lovers, it messed her up and she was made to jump from person to person both to hide her from Luc and to heal her. At the same time, the Eight are using Mercy as a puppet to save people from Luc’s influence. If Mercy wants to rebel against both, I’m all for it!
The book also raises the question of free will vs. fate in what controls the events of the story. About halfway through the book, the angel Azrael makes himself known to Mercy as he waits to take Lela’s mother Karen, but he says that someone else is fated to die at the exact same time as Karen and then he will take both their souls at once. Later on, one of the Eight says that Mercy’s choice in the climactic scene determined the outcome of the event. Because of the choice she made, the ending was set in stone. He’s even disappointed that Mercy acted like herself by deciding with empathy rather than casting off empathy in decision-making as the Eight would.
So does fate rule with the illusion of free will or is there truly free will? Does the world operate with a mix of both? The latter is what the case seems to be, but fate makes the existence of true free will impossible. WHICH IS IT???
The one flaw: it’s a little questionable that Mercy has never encountered anything religious and made the connections between Luc, the Eight, and all these religious figures who have the same names as the beings she knows so well. I can only assume the Eight only put her in situations where she wouldn’t encounter any religious texts or they made her forget what she came across the way they put a firewall around her memories of her time as Carmen. Do a seamless enough job and she’ll never know…
But what makes this a solid sequel is that it how it’s a vital transitional book that shows the consequences of the choices Mercy made in the previous book. Though Mercy has gone through innumerable lives and bodies, Lela’s isn’t just another in the cycle. Mercy’s connection with Ryan as her true self changed the centuries-old pattern of her soul-jacking and everything in Exile is a direct result of that, signalling how further entries in the series will only escalate from here.
I want Muse in my hands yesterday, basically. I’m pretty sure I’ve seen copies of it and Fury in local bookstore somehow, so I might be able make sure the gap between Exile and Muse isn’t quite as long as six years. Exile is the best kind of sequel and and a solid book of its own, making me excited about a series I’d otherwise forgotten about.