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Grave Mercy - Robin LaFevers SPOILER ALERT FROM REAL HISTORY: Brittany is eventually absorbed by France.

Keywords: Death, Mortain, saints, medieval, witches, female heroes, assassins, mercy, angel, nuns, badassery, Olden times, Brittany, France, duchy, Anne, cool clothing, poison, crossbows, killing, murder, politics, scandal, marriage, turmoil, civil war, war, loss, grief, abuse, women, untouchables, England, Roman Empire.

Sentence: I sentence Robin LaFevers to an orgy of limbs that do not include elbows. And don't mistake that for irony; it is satire.

Review: Fans of Alison Goodman are in for a pleasant surprise. Grave Mercy is another story of a strong female character shaped over time to become some sort of badass...asskicker. Or in this case, assassin for Death. Lafever's book reads very much like Eon, in that you start off with a girl who believes herself so deformed and untouchable that when others value her it seems unfathomable. It's almost like a really extreme metaphor for teenage girls establishing self-respect. Actually that's not really an "almost" situation; it's a given.

Anyway, Grave Mercy does not fail to immerse you deep in the dark world of the most ridiculous assassin nuns. You may laugh at the thought of that but beware of their deadly ninja skills. But pretty much they're just good at poisoning people and pretending to be all secretive-like when really everyone knows about them. That's okay, it was fun all the same.

And that's pretty much where my positive critique ends. It was fun.

Here are my points of issue:

1. Much too Much Ado About Nothing. Come on, practically every teen romance is about some sort of hatred or distrust between the two lovebirds. We all know they're going to end up together now. And of course just when Duval is about to die Ismae realizes her body is a fucking sponge. A SPONGE FOR POISON. What is this? SpongeMae PoisonPants?


And to heal him she doesn't just, you know, sleep with him; she does some serious planking shit.

2. JUST DO IT. This is something the girls and I, at the bookstore, call the ultimate rule of teen fiction. Teens are rash dumbasses that let not only their hormones, but their pride guide them. In a situation where a girl has barely any clothes on, in her bedroom, with the guy she's pining for (no parents around and he's pretty much into her more than he is into his life being threatened)--just do it. What is the hold up? You're already spooning.

3. Elbow fetish. I am slightly disturbed by the amount of elbow grabbing Duval does. It's almost bad as those weird armpit fetishes. But pretty much every chance he gets, Duval is shoving or forcefully grabbing Ismae's elbow, which she is constantly twisting out of. Look Duval, you may want to lick her elbow or whatever and hope it's her "sweet spot", but I'm pretty sure she'd just send that elbow straight into your mouth and knock out a couple of teeth.

4. Repetitive language and phrases. Repeating things in different ways may make the reader remember things better, but it also annoys the shit out of me. If one says the same thing over and over again in different ways, it is not only hammered into one's memory, but also an irritant. I find repetition particularly annoying, but also effective for accurate recall, even when the subject matter being repeated is completely unnecessary.

5. Irony. 
"1. Verbal irony is a trope in which the intended meaning of a statement differs from the meaning that the words appear to express.

2. Situational irony involves an incongruity between what is expected or intended and what actually occurs.

3. Dramatic irony is an effect produced by a narrative in which the audience knows more about present or future circumstances than a character in the story."

Please, Lafevers, see this excellent explanation: The Oatmeal's 3 Uses of Irony. You will find irony easier to identify this, rather than claiming every other sentence that something is ironic.

I will give Lafevers this much, I loved her intro of Death Himself as a utensil for mercy, not revenge. Death is mercy for the suffering. And that was pretty awesome.