Elena's Reviews > Grave Mercy

Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers
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Dec 29, 2011

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bookshelves: historical, fantasy, young-adult, reviewed
Read from April 13 to May 12, 2012

This, unfortunately, is one of those books that I like less and less the more I think about it. While I was reading it, there were parts I adored. I still adore the premise. I mean, assassin nuns who serve the god of death? Yes, please! And I certainly enjoyed it enough to keep turning pages. It had a decent plot arc, and I might even be willing to pick up the second book. Maybe.

However, what let me down, and angers me more and more as time goes on, is the main character, Ismae. She was trained for years at the convent of the assassin nuns, taught everything from garotte techniques to seduction methods, with a specialization in poisons. She knows dozens of ways to kill, can kick ass in a fight, and should, by all rights, be TOTALLY BADASS.

But...she isn't. She is one of the least badass characters I've ever encountered. When I was reading, once the "ZOMG WHAT AN AWESOME IDEA THAT IS TOTALLY BADASS" initial impression wore off and the plot got going, I became more and more troubled by Ismae's total lack of skill. Despite her supposed training, she can't seem to do anything right other than straight-up fighting. She can kick ass, sure, but assassins also need to be sneaky and full of subterfuge. Ismae was about as subtle as a crossbow bolt to the neck fired in the middle of a party in full view of all the guests (um, spoiler?). If Ismae had been portrayed as a fighter, I'd probably like this book a lot better. But Ismae was supposed to be an assassin, and apart from knowing dozens of ways to kill someone, Ismae had no assassin skills whatsoever.

I really wanted to love this book, but I'm left with just disappointment and a present but fading appreciation for the amazing premise. I'll wait to see what my friends have to say about the sequel before I decide whether or not to give the assassin nuns of supposed awesomeness a second chance.
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Reading Progress

04/13/2012 page 60
11.0% "Assassin...nuns...who serve the god of death... I knew what to expect, but somehow my brain is still twitching in shock. They're so...nun-like. But also...assassins. Mind blown."
04/15/2012 page 209
40.0% "For someone who has spent many years training to be an assassin, Ismae sure is terrible at blending in. She's really more of a straight up fighter-type killer, rather than a sneaky assassin."
04/15/2012 page 244
46.0% ""'With someone such as Gavriel, I would suggest appearing aloof, not chasing too much. He might see that as suffocating rather than charming.' Her words are sharp, but her voice is sweet, like honey on the edge of a blade.... I comfort myself with the knowledge that if Duval ever feels smothered by me, it will be because I am holding a pillow over his face and commending his soul to Mortain." Ha!" 5 comments
05/11/2012 page 269
51.0% "The library FINALLY processed this book, so I can resume the reading that was so rudely interrupted by the expiration of my e-galley."

Comments (showing 1-9 of 9) (9 new)

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Crowinator Did you get a copy from the library yet? That's a great quote to pull out -- I remember laughing about it as well.


Elena Not yet! My library is so sloooow. :(


Gretchen Hohmeyer I bet you I could send you my copy in the mail to borrow and it'd get there faster. :P I just finished it!


Elena Ha, thanks for the offer, Gretchen! But supposedly the library received their copies about a week ago, so I'm hoping they'll be processed and one will be sent to me within a couple days...


Gretchen Hohmeyer Good, okay! I totally would have leant you mine. My friend Erica and I are swapping books literally cross country. :P I LOVED GRAVE MERCY. :D


Crowinator That's exactly how I felt too, Elena. Even Sydney Bristow could outsneak Ismae, and she's practically the worst spy ever.


Gretchen Hohmeyer To be fair, the next book is more like a companion novel; it focuses on ... what's her name, the crazy girl Ismae befriended in the beginning. :P


Elena Yes, I know! I think if the next book were about Ismae, I wouldn't be able to handle her gross incompetency. I'll be on the lookout to see if what's-her-name is any better.


Gretchen Hohmeyer At the very least, what's her name--oh dear sweet creator of chocolate, where's my copy? SYBELLA, that's her name--will be a lot less reserved than Ismae. ...maybe someday I'll reread this one and see if my adoration stems from the fact that it isn't one of the dime a dozen YAs I'd been reading up til this point. :P


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