Mercy Point reviewed by Tara

Five young people are part of an online community for people who have discovered they are adopted. With the safety of anonymity, they share their souls and the pain and betrayal they feel about the discovery and their parents’ ongoing secrecy and deception.

For Emma, one of the members, everything changed when she discovered she was adopted. She feels isolated and alone. Despite rehearsing the conversation repeated in her mind, she hasn’t had the courage to approach her parents about it. She can’t even talk about it with her friends. In desperation she turns to the only people who understand her and suggests that the members of the online community meet up face to face.

To their surprise, four of the five members go to the same school and are in the same class. They are an unlikely mix: Michael the bully and Fabian the outsider that Michael picks on, Tessie who has anxiety and Emma who frequently clashes with Tessie and Michael. After the shock of discovering that their online support group is composed of their mortal enemies, their initial response is to flee. The fifth group member, Sam, is a mysterious outsider who is overly eager to unite the group in their search for the truth. The information that they uncover incites them to put aside their differences and work together to uncover the secret about their adoption and their heritage.

The setting, Mercy Point, is a small mountain community which is dependent on the mining industry. The mine is a significant part of the history of Mercy Point and its inhabitants, including a cave-in that resulted in many fatalities. Throughout the story there are references to the environmental impact of the mines and the sense that there are ongoing issues with the mines that could put everyone in Mercy Point at risk.

Mercy Point is marketed as a young adult thriller. The suspense builds gradually in the first half of the book, which focuses on introducing the characters and building the plot. The dynamics between the group members is intriguing because of the way they clashed in real life but connected online. It is an interesting analysis of the way people can appear to bare their souls online, but they are still showing only a part of themselves. In online relationships it is easier to choose which parts are revealed and which parts aren’t disclosed. In face to face relationships the front that is revealed doesn’t truly reflect the person either and can be influenced by their emotional state or external factors. As the characters get to know each other these influences, such as anxiety and violence at home, are revealed. They begin to understand each other and develop mutual respect. They also discover that one of them had a hidden agenda which endangers them all.

The suspense in the plot builds more quickly through the second half. There are subtle hints to a science-fiction twist which is revealed in the final quarter of the book. The plot moves rapidly to a cliff-hanger ending which suggests a sequel is planned. It leaves a lot of unanswered questions and I find myself wanting  to read more.

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