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I Belong

Early Review: The Office of Mercy by Ariel Djanikian

Title: The Office of Mercy

Author: Ariel Djanikian

Genre: YA Dystopian

Series: N/A

Publication DateFebruary 21, 2013

FormatHardcover, 320 Pages

ISBN-10: 0670025860 (Viking/Penguin)

ISBN-13: 978-0670025862 (Viking/Penguin)

Reviewed by: Bridget


A thrilling debut of a postapocalyptic world for fans of The Hunger Games

Weaving philosophy and science together into a riveting, dystopian story of love and adventure, The Office of Mercy illuminates an all-too-real future imagined by a phenomenal new voice in fiction.

Twenty-four-year-old Natasha Wiley lives in America-Five—a high-tech, underground, utopian settlement where hunger and money do not exist, everyone has a job, and all basic needs are met. But when her mentor and colleague, Jeffrey, selects her to join a special team to venture Outside for the first time, Natasha’s allegiances to home, society, and above all to Jeffrey are tested. She is forced to make a choice that may put the people she loves most in grave danger and change the world as she knows it.

The Office of Mercy is speculative fiction at its best with a deeply imagined, lush world, high-stakes adventure, and romance that will thrill fans of Suzanne Collins, Margaret Atwood, Justin Cronin, and Kazuo Ishiguro.

Quick & Dirty: This was a good YA Dystopian novel that really left you thinking, but it was slow moving and a little hard to get into.

Opening Sentence: The sun sank behind the trees, and the blue-black shadows of the forest encroached farther down the sloping beach.

Excerpt: No

The Review

Natasha Wiley has grown up in America-Five.  America-five is one of the many facilities in the world where groups of people live.  The facilities are run by the Alphas who have lived for many generations and have tried to perfect the way their society runs.  Everyone has a job, there is no hunger and everyone is basically happy and content.  At least everyone that lives in the facilities.  They reproduce by taking DNA and creating a certain amount of new human beings.  They only create a new generation if they have enough room, food, supplies and so forth to support them.  They have perfected a way to regenerate their bodies so they will all live forever.   American-Five currently has 5 generations and they are creating a sixth.

The world we know today was mostly destroyed by a huge storm and the only people to survive were the people living in the facilities and a few other groups of people that live in the outside.  The people that live outside are known as the Tribes and the people in the facilities feel that they live a very harsh painful life.  So to stop their suffering they do the humane thing and eliminate them.  Natasha works in the Office of Mercy in America-Five and they are in charge of keeping track of the tribes and sweeping them (which is what they call it when they kill a tribe member).  There was just a major sweep done of a tribe and it is time to clean up the mess and repair any damage to their equipment.  Natasha has never left America-Five but she has always dreamed of going outside.  She finally gets her chance when they put together a team to go clean the sweep site and she is on it.  It is a standard mission, but there is another tribe in the area and things don’t go as planned.  Natasha is kidnapped by some of the tribe members and they don’t seem as barbaric as she was always led to believe.  They are real people and it makes Natasha question everything about the society she lives in and if what they do to the tribe people is really the right thing.

Natasha is a good strong character with a good voice.  She has grown up in this utopian society that really believes they are trying to bring the world peace.  She has always had a few doubts about the system but she was taught to put up a wall and ignore anything that she thought was wrong.  After meeting the tribes people her sympathetic side shows through, and she questions her logical side.  I admire her good qualities but she is very inconsistent and is persuaded by others very easily.  At times I felt she should have stuck better to her decisions and worry less about what others think.

Jeffery is another big character in the book; he is Natasha’s boss at the Office of Mercy.  He has always seemed to be more sympathetic then others and Natasha always felt that he understood her.  She has always been attracted to Jeffery, but relationships between different generations have always been looked down upon.  Physical and emotional relationships aren’t forbidden but they aren’t really encouraged by the Alphas.  Jeffery has a lot of depth to him, and I thought that he was a very interesting character.

Overall, this book was a very interesting read to me.  It started out really slow at first, but the pacing got a little better the more I read.  The characters weren’t the most consistent and at times I felt the book jumped around a little bit.  I think the writing was well done but there are defiantly areas that could use some improvement.  The ending was very interesting and it really left you thinking which I liked.  Overall, I would think that people who enjoy YA Dystopian should give this one a try.

Notable Scene:

Amid these thoughts, Natasha had become somewhat careless in monitoring her surroundings. And only several meters before reaching the rise of land which led to where Douglas and Nolan were working, she saw a bright streak of close movement in her peripheral vision. Her muscles tensed. She threw herself into a defensive position, just as she’d practiced a hundred times in the Pretends: her back up against the trunk of a large,  half-dead sycamore tree, her gun unholstered and thrust forward in both hands.

“Natasha, what’s the matter? You’re nervous—”

Arthur’s voice from the Office of Mercy. She had forgotten; they could see her heart beating.

“There’s something. An animal.”

“You’re loaded?”


The flash of pale movement appeared again through the bushes. It could not be a bear, unless it was a very small bear. She had once seen a mountain lion on the sensors here. What if a mountain lion had slipped into the deadzone without anyone noticing? Or what if it had lived here for months, and just emerged from hiding now that the Pines had gone? It barked. Natasha raised her head from the crosshairs. The animal bounded out of the bushes, its pink tongue hanging to one side and its ears down, its coat bright in the sun.

FTC Advisory: Viking Press/Penguin provided me with a copy of The Office of Mercy. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.

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