Title: Chasing Mercy [Transformed 1]
Author: Stacy Claflin
Genre: Paranormal, New Adult, Urban, Fantasy
Rating: 2 Stars
The summer after graduation should have been the most exciting time of Mercy’s life.
Instead, on the way to an exciting overseas trip, she barely survives an accident that kills the rest of her family. As soon as she’s released from the hospital, a creepy hooded figure with black skinny jeans begins to chase her.
At home, Mercy experiences other ghostly encounters. Kit, her neighbor who happens to run a paranormal blog, thinks that her brush with death has made her more sensitive to life on the other side. She discovers what the hooded figure is hiding and decides to try and stop him regardless of the danger.
WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW
Cover: Gorgeous. A very sincere thumbs up to whomever put it together.
I very nearly gave this book 3 stars. Chasing Mercy started off well. The story began with drama, and for the most part, clean, grammatically correct writing. As far as the technical side of things go, this was well written—there were very few missing words, misspellings, or other technical errors. The plot too was interesting, and had it been pulled off, this would have been an incredibly engaging story. Unfortunately, the style in which this story was written ruined it for me.
The author had a style of writing that leaned towards an abundance of redundancy and over-telling. Throughout the story, ideas and concepts were over-explained ad nauseum. Sometimes the characters would go over and over the same information as if the author didn’t believe we, the audience, had gotten her point the first time around. The first couple of times it happened, I pushed past it, but eventually it grew tiring. I wanted to yell “We get it! Get on with the story!” There was also an above average amount of “telling” where the main character, Mercy, would narrating something like “I knew.. “ “I saw…” “I felt…” etc instead of just showing her reaction to those things. Unfortunately, this sucked some of the tension out of the narrative and slowed the pace. Because of all of this, I figured out the big “reveal” of the book – what should have been the climax, very early on… at 10% in. The story was predictable from there on in.
The characters themselves were interesting. I really liked Kit, Mercy’s adorable next door neighbor. He seemed like a great guy—though he did have a tendency to… I guess the word I’m looking for is “cling” to Mercy. It’s a little hard to explain… but here’s this kid who’s used to being made fun of (and doesn’t exactly live in a conventional family), and he immediately becomes best buds with the main character. Here’s this girl who bursts into tears the first time they speak, and rather than feel confused or awkward about it, he spends the next few days holding her hand and supporting her. Sure, we’d all like to think that we’d be that great of a person, but he didn’t know her… and her reaction to him was a little out there. It would have made sense if there had been a little awkwardness between them. It seemed too easy that this guy became Mercy’s best friend so quickly. Not only that—but he took her for her word on everything. He can’t see ghosts, yet when his new, emotionally unstable neighbor tells him she’s being chased by a Reaper, he just joins in her craziness with no evidence that she isn’t just messing with him. Part of being a ghost hunter is being skeptical… it just didn’t ring realistic to me. It felt as if he’d been purposely written to compliment Mercy, and as in individual character, he just didn’t stand up on his own.
Spoilers in the next paragraph – you were warned.
Mercy on the other hand, made me mad. At first, I almost liked her. She was a bit whiny, but to an extent that was understandable. She had just lost her entire family after all—but the more the story dragged on, the more obnoxious she seemed. Eventually she got to the point where she was trying to convince her new Gay best friend that he wasn’t really Gay, and I was outright offended by her. What kind of self involved person even thinks they have the right to tell a LGBT person that they’re wrong about their own gender orientation? I was livid. The fact that the author actually gave in to this idea and made Kit change his orientation to be with Mercy was like a slap in the face. I lost all respect for the book at that point. I can only imagine how insulted my LGBT friends and relatives would feel by this turn of events.
End of Spoilers
I think one of the things that annoyed me most about the story was the character’s penchant for jumping to conclusions. Both Kit and Mercy made assumptions about the Reapers without ever having approached them. They immediately came to the conclusion that the Reapers were evil and up to something nasty without even trying to talk to the Reapers or find out what they were up to. Worse yet, each time something like this would happen—where the characters would jump to a conclusion—the narrative then backed them up. As a result, the story came across as incredibly contrived. It came to a point where no matter how absurd the characters were acting, I was able to guess where the story was going because I knew the author was going to back them up. There was no mystery involved where it should have been very prevalent in the story.
Another thing I want to bring up is the loose ends and plot holes: there were a lot of them. It was never explained who was poking Mercy at night, who packed up her sister’s room, or why the game kept playing music in the middle of the night. Mercy’s Grandmother at one point made a huge mess in the downstairs that had Mercy basically gasping for air in her own house—but it wasn’t real clear why the mess existed, or how it got there… I mean.. it was basically smeared on the walls, the floor, the ceiling. It was so dramatic a point, and the author kept pushing it into the forefront so often, that at one point I was nearly convinced that Mercy’s grandmother had died, and Mercy was going to figure out that it was actually her ghost roaming around the house… since the Grandmother seemed to be constantly napping in her smelly room. It was also never explained where Mercy’s aunt (who was supposed to be checking in the grandmother) was, or why she never showed up. Another instance, was at the very beginning of the book where Mercy “miraculously healed” faster than expected, and the narrative actually says that the doctors were surprised by how fast she’d healed… but later when we reach the big “reveal” near the end of the book… this point no longer makes any sense. If she really was as the author told us, then the doctors shouldn’t have noticed anything about her healing. It felt as if the author was bending facts of the story to suit the current moment, but looking back, these points didn’t hold up.
Alone, any one of these points—the plot holes, loose ends, character deficiencies, or narrative issues—wouldn’t have dropped this book into a 2-star rating, but all together it was impossible to ignore. This story could (and should have) been much more than it was, but as it stands, in my opinion it is in desperate need of some beta readers and a good proofreader. I honestly think it could have used another draft. Overall: I didn’t like the book. There may be other people out there that can look past some of what I found wrong with it, but I honestly can’t recommend it. I don’t think it met the expectations of it’s genre. It didn’t feel polished.