The first thing I thought of when I started reading this book was that it was basically a horror story version of Mean Girls. Riley in this book is Regina George. Alexis is Gretchen. Grace is Karen (though only by default because their character looks and personalities are really not the same). Brooklyn is Janis Ian. And Sofia is Cady. (A movie version of The Merciless is actually in the works, according to The Hollywood Reporter. I imagine the movie will be rated R.)
So what's the story? Well, Sofia is the new girl in school and she ends up becoming friends with the popular girls: Riley, Alexis, and Grace. The three girls are very religious, drinking lots of holy wine and baptizing Sofia in the school bathroom. The girls don't like school rebel Brooklyn, and Sofia doesn't understand why at first. Brooklyn, despite her tattoos and piercings, seems like a nice enough girl. But then Sofia witnesses Brooklyn making out with Riley's boyfriend, and when Sofia tells this to Riley, all hell breaks loose. Literally.
Riley wants to "save" Brooklyn, and so the girls end up kidnapping Brooklyn and forcing an exorcism on her, complete with knives, fire, and a whole lotta blood.
I wasn't really sure just who the crazy person was in this novel. Is it Riley with her warped sense of Christianity? Is it Alexis with her nervous habit of pulling out her hair? Is it Brooklyn, who seems to cause Sofia to have weird visions? Or is it Sofia, who could just be imagining some of the crazy things she's seen? The ending will really surprise you. Well, it surprised me. You just never know who really has evil inside them.
The Merciless is published by Razorbill and will be available to purchase on June 12, 2014. I received a free review copy for my honest review.