Book: The Office of Mercy
Author: Ariel Djanikian
Published on: February 21, 2013
Publisher: Viking Adult
Source: For review from Netgalley
Rating: 2 out of 5 stars
First, let me preface this by saying, I would never write a disrespectful, or mean review. If I'm going to write a review for a poorly rated book, I'm going to give good reason. Please understand that writing a harsher review is more work for me so I would never just brazenly bash a book because I didn't like it.
The Office of Mercy is set in a post-apocolyptic society called America Five that is sheltered within a glass dome. The story revolves around Natasha, who works in the Office of Mercy, responsible for relieving the people outside the dome of their suffering and extinguishing them. The citizens of the dome are taught from an early age to disconnect their empathies and put a wall up to prevent connecting with the tribes they were killing. When Natasha begins to have her doubts of America Five's true purpose and ethical beliefs, she embarks on a journey that will inevitably change everything she has ever known.
This is such an interesting concept. You probably know already that I love post-apocolyptic stories. This setting is so expertly crafted and well-told. The author went into great detail about the world within America Five's dome, and I love that. I love reading about how they live and what they do to survive. I love how it started right in the action and how I was a bit confused at the start. I love learning about the setting as I go.
This is essentially an ethics-story. The author really gets into Natasha's mind. She shares her struggles and her thoughts. I felt very connected with Natasha.
This book is intelligently written. I could tell how smart the author is by reading it, which is one major reason I had trouble disliking it. It's a smart book, however, I didn't connect with it.
Throughout the first half of the book, I was on the edge of my seat, waiting for some momentous event to take place, and I felt let-down by the lack of action and character connections. I assumed this was because it's not YA. Making the transition from YA to adult usually means a restlessness when things don't move as quickly or as dramatically. Things do happen. There is war and violence and sex and tension, but the writing is more intensely focused on the ethics and inner-conciousness. I can appreciate the intention of the writer to create a thought-provoking novel, and I can honestly say, it just wasn't for me. I wanted to light a fire under this story's butt and make something crazy happen. I wanted to be shocked. I wanted to gasp and cry, but like I said, this is an ethics story, so the obvious right/wrong wasn't always straight-forward.
As for the tribes, or the people living outside the dome, I had a hard time connecting with them, and I really wanted to. They just didn't feel real to me. They felt a little like caricatures, actually. I couldn't see them as real people. Naturally, I wanted to relate to them more than the people within the dystopian-like dome, but I just couldn't connect. This could have been intentional. This novel doesn't follow the generic formula of dystopian/post-apocolyptic novels. There are no "bad guys/good guys". I have to give the author credit for making something that should be so blatantly wrong, seem almost ethical.
I could see this story making its way into an ethics class. The writing is truly intelligent writing and I can see the importance of this story. I regret that I couldn't really enjoy it or get fully invested in Natasha's story.
However, I'm glad I read it and truly glad I finished it. The ending was a sucker punch.
Find it here // Amazon // Goodreads // Barnes & Noble