Released: August 26th, 2014
Seventeen-year-old Velvet has managed to patch together a new family for herself and her eleven-year-old sister after the raves of the Contamination--the epidemic caused by a wildly popular diet drink. They now live in their old house, in their empty neighborhood, with Velvet's boyfriend, Dillon; old Mrs. Holly, their elderly neighbor; and one of the Contaminated, the woman who was once their vibrant mother. But the Contamination seems to have returned, more people are falling victim, and the government begins to test people to see if they have the disease.
And Velvet has some symptoms . . .
I bought a copy of Contaminated last year and ate it up, so I was overjoyed when Em Garner sent me an ARC of Mercy Mode to read and review. And I definitely liked it as much--if not more--than its predecessor. Plus, it's set in PA, and reading a book that's set in someplace familiar is always a huge plus for me! But let's go into detail.
I've said it before: I'm not a huge zombie girl. In fact, I'm not even a huge fan of paranormal. But the Contaminated series has a way of making these zombie-like victims seem fresh and unique, while still keeping things familiar. This, I think, will make the book appeal to both undead junkies and paranormal newbies, like me.
As far as plot goes, I was actually very impressed. Often times, the sequel to a dystopian novel lacks in action and excitement (as shown by the first halves of Catching Fire and Insurgent). While it may not have been as riveting as I would've liked, I wasn't yanked around. Mercy Mode managed to keep things at a steady pace, and the final third of the book was successful in keeping me up far past my bedtime.
Now for my favorite part. Characters.
Mercy Mode doesn't have a large cast of characters, which I appreciate, because it gives me a better chance to connect with each of them in ways that wouldn't be possible if there had been more. Yes, Mrs. Holly did seem a little unnecessary to the story, but she was still strong and sassy for an old woman living in harsh conditions. Velvet's mother triggered a lot of sympathy from me, and Opal was the bright spot in a crappy situation. Cute, spunky, and, to quote Velvet, "sometimes a bit of a brat," Opal provided a lot of entertainment.
There was a character that did seem a little off to me. Dillon. He was sweet and tried his best to provide for his and Velvet's makeshift family, but he always seemed a little distant, something he hadn't been in Contaminated. But it's possible that he was written that way on purpose. He and Velvet were forced to have a somewhat rushed relationship, marrying solely for the purpose of benefits and more food, rather than love. Velvet herself often remarked that she and Dillon had been awkward with each other recently, and I don't blame them, under the circumstances.
My favorite character was Velvet. She was great. She appealed to me in ways that Katniss and Tris do, but without being a copycat, dystopian heroine. She's original and very much her own person. She's strong and feisty and would do anything for her family. She's fiercely protective of her little sister and puts herself through life-threatening danger to make things better for her.
So all in all, Mercy Mode is a fantastic and entertaining read that will appeal to paranormal and dystopian lovers alike, especially for fans of The Program and Divergent. I definitely recommend reading the series, and sincerely hope there is a sequel very soon!
Meet the author:
Em Garner writes books.
She began writing at a very young age, always preferring the stories about what goes bump in the night. An avid reader of horror, science-fiction and fantasy, she first turned her hand to short stories about the sorts of things that hide under the bed…and she kept right on going.
Now Em spends most of her time in front of her computer, writing away at all the ideas she has swirling around in her head and hoping she can get them into a story before she forgets them.
She loves zombies, unicorns, and rainbows, the color purple and the smell of roses. She hates the smell of lilies, the feeling of corduroy and biting sandpaper. (Well. Who doesn’t?)
She lives at the beach with her family, where she spends a lot of time reading and sticking her feet in the sand. She is afraid of sharks, but that doesn’t stop her from going in the water.
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