A wonderful and heart-warming teen read that’s perfect for fans of Holly Smale’s Geek Girl series.
Mercy Valentine doesn’t claim to be nice. She’s sharp, sarcastic and deliberately destructive. While the public and paparazzi might think she has everything – from the wealth of her family to the opportunity to play the lead at The Globe theatre – Mercy’s life is much more complicated. So complicated, in fact, that’s it’s about to coming crashing around her ears. What will happen when the bad girl takes things one step too far? Will she lose her starring role, the man of her dreams, and her family? Or, maybe, events might force her to finally confront the trauma that’s been haunting her for so long.
It’s been more years than I’d care to admit since I read Holly Smale’s breakthrough novel, Geek Girl, but it remains one of my favourite teen reads. I, therefore, jumped at the opportunity to review a book from Holly’s new series. When I flicked to the first page of Love Me Not, however, I immediately had two reservations. First, the book is the third in The Valentines series and I was concerned I knew nothing about the first two books. Second, the size of the book itself is a slightly intimidating prospect: it’s almost two inches thick and over 500 pages!
I needn’t have worried on either count. Mercy’s story stands alone and it didn’t matter at all that I hadn’t read the previous novels. Added to this, once I started reading, I definitely didn’t have an issue with the word count. I read the entire book in one day (a Sunday so I didn’t have to work) and finished reading far too quickly. I’d have been happy if the book had been twice the length!
In theory, Mercy is not an appealing character. As she says herself in the opening lines: “You’re not going to like me. I’m not nice, I’m not relatable, you’ll find it difficult to empathise with the snarky daughter of Hollywood royalty….”
However, this isn’t an accurate assessment. Because it’s not long before the reader decides for themselves that beneath the sarcasm and sharp exterior, Mercy is actually very nice. Her behaviour is largely an act and our growing understanding of this means she’s easy to relate to and we empathise a lot with her situation. Indeed, one of the reasons I read so many pages so fast was precisely because I wanted to learn more about what had made her this way and I desperately wanted her to stop her constantly self-destructive behaviour. Spoiler alert – she does finally stop and the book has a wonderful and heart-warming conclusion.
If you enjoyed this, you might want to join me in reading the other two books in The Valentines series – Happy Girl Lucky and Far From Perfect by Holly Smale. Alternatively, I’m planning to revisit the Geek Girl series and have started by downloading the audio version of the first three books.
Publication Date: May 2021