The Boneless Mercies (ARC) by April Genevieve Tucholke

The Boneless Mercies by April Genevieve Tucholke is set to be released on October 2, 2018, and promises a story full of fierce girls, bloodlust, tenuous alliances, and unapologetic quests for glory. Early reviews promise that this elegantly spun tale challenges the power of storytelling – and who gets to be the storyteller. Basically, The Boneless Mercies  sounds perfect for fans of Maggie Stiefvater, V.E. Schwab, and Heidi Heilig.

Frey, Ovie, Juniper, and Runa are the Boneless Mercies – girls hired to kill quickly, quietly, and mercifully. But Frey is weary of the death trade and, having been raised on the heroic sagas of her people, dreams of a bigger life. When she hears of an unstoppable monster ravaging a nearby town, Frey decides this is the Mercies’ one chance out. The fame and fortune of bringing down such a beast would ensure a new future for all the Mercies. In fact, her actions may change the story arc of women everywhere.

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A story full of fierce girls, bloodlust, tenuous alliances, and unapologetic quests for glory sounds like exactly the type of story I would like to read – especially if there’s a touch a magic or mystery involved (which there most certainly was in this case)! Unfortunately, The Boneless Mercies by April Genevieve Tucholke failed to inspire – likely the result of an exceptionally slowly paced story, dull characters, and an overly complex setting.

“We made people uneasy, for we were women with weapons” – April Genevieve Tucholke, The Boneless Mercies

The Boneless Mercies – Frey, Ovie, Juniper, and Runa – are supposed to be from completely different backgrounds and have wildly different personalities – a fact Frey openly muses upon multiple times throughout the story. However, I personally felt that the characters blurred together, making them into an indistinguishable group – a fact that quite detracted from the quality of the story.

However, I did quite enjoy the relationships between the characters, which throughout the novel developed into well detailed, realistic strong platonic friendships. Rarely do readers get to see such strong friendships between the female characters of a Young Adult novel – nor do YA readers often get the pleasure of reading about a strong platonic friendship between a man and a woman. In fact, the latter is so rare that I found myself just waiting for the relationship to develop into something more – but in the end, I was happy to have been witness to something so powerful as their friendship.

That being said, if you’re looking for romance – The Boneless Mercies is not the place you ought to expect to find it.

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Perhaps my biggest complaint about The Boneless Mercies was the exceptionally slowly paced plot. After reviewing my reading updates on Goodreads, I found that on page 155 (over 40% of the way into the story), I had posted the following: “Having a really hard time getting into this one – a very slow start mixed with an odd narrative style is just making it difficult to lose myself in the story! Hoping it picks up soon…” Unfortunately, this was not the last such update, and the story really didn’t pick up until more than halfway through the story. This can be attributed to both the odd narration style, which was heavily rooted in storytelling – resulting in half the story actually being about events that occurred prior to the book – and the meandering nature of the plot – which featured many superfluous details and encounters that (in my humble opinion) did not always contribute to the progression of the story.

Overall, the idea behind The Boneless Mercies by April Genevieve Tucholke sounded quite intriguing and definitely seemed as though it would be my kind of thing, but unfortunately the execution left me underwhelmed. The story was mostly filler with very little actual plot, the characters had very little distinct personality, and the world building wasn’t all there, resulting in an overly complex setting. Despite this, I did enjoy the whimsical writing style and the strong platonic friendships – something you rarely seem to encounter in Young Adult books these days (3/5).

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