Cover Image: Mercury Boys

Mercury Boys

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Mercury Boys had a wonderfully unique premise about being transported to the past. This historical fiction almost fantasy like aspect had to be one of my favorite elements. Because I understand that fixation with the past, that intense curiosity you get, all the obsession about how lives were lead. I don't think I would have gone to quite the extent the characters in Mercury Boys go to, but the kernel of the idea captivated me. Through these girls eyes we are transported to the past with them, to see the challenges we don't understand, and the gaps in technology.

But I wish the ending didn't feel so hastily wrapped up. I felt like towards the middle of Mercury Boys the story shifts from being about the actual historical fiction scenes and more towards the friendship group. Which I didn't mind at all, I just felt like there were a few lingering questions and plot points from that story line that were wrapped up quickly. Which is why I decided that Mercury Boys fell more into the contemporary genre, as a lot of the conflict is centered in our present time.
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Mercury Boys was such a hugely anticipated book for me, and as it turns out, I have such a huge case of mixed feelings going on here that I hardly know where to begin! I guess we should begin, as always, with the positives! Interestingly enough, I found the positives to be very positive, but the downsides to be equally important.

What I Liked:

►You ever find yourself down an absurd, old-timey Wikipedia rabbit hole? I do it all the time. And of all my rabbit holes, one of the most fascinating has to be daguerreotypes. There is something about them so completely haunting, but at the same time, communal. Like yes, the world was wholly different back then, but then you see these people who, in photograph, look so relatable. Anyway, I find the whole history of daguerreotypes and early photography mind-bogglingly fascinating, so to have a whole book based on the premise was pretty awesome.

►Going to various places in time via the girls' dreams was fabulous! I mean, come on! We got to go to the Civil War for goodness sake! We even got to take some journeys to other countries in addition to the various time periods.

►I really liked the focus on family and friendship. This is extra good because any "romance" was squicky at best. Lila was such an awesome friend to Saskia, and frankly, Saskia should listen to Lila more often, and not the other way around. Saskia and her dad are reeling after her mom's affair, and trying to start over. Her dad, he tries, and he tries hard. But it's a lot, suddenly becoming a single parent. So what I am saying here is, I love Mr. Saskia and Lila, and everyone else can exit stage left.

►There were a lot of really great emotional moments. I was gutted by Saskia's journey to take a daguerreotype of a deceased child, and Adrienne hanging out in Civil War medical tents was eye opening. Also, the girls' real life struggles were really moving too. Saskia was having such a rough go, trying to navigate her mother's nonsense, helping her father, trying to fit in, etc. Lila is going through her own stuff, which would be spoilery to mention I think, but again, it was moving. And also, Mr. Saskia has a pretty great arc, if small.

What I Didn't:

►The aforementioned squickiness. Look, I can understand having a quasi-crush on a long-dead inventor. I guess? I mean look, I don't regularly catch feels from the deceased, but you do you, girl! The problem was, apart from his living status (in that he was not), he was significantly older than Saskia, married with a myriad of children, and therefore it seemed rather predatory, even if nothing particularly predatory happened? Does this make sense? I guess it's akin to a teen hanging out with a teacher, where like, the teacher isn't technically doing anything illegal, but it sits right with literally no one. I looked it up, because of course I did, and in this picture that Saskia snuggles with, he was 30. So, at the very least, homie is close to twice her age. Just saying.

►The toxicity of the club. Why the heck did Saskia stick with Paige and her sister?! Look. I get that we make terrible choices in our youth. And I can even understand Saskia falling in with Paige to begin with, as the new girl at school, with only Lila in her life, etc etc. But how is there no crossed line that will act as enough of a wake up call? I am being vague as not to spoil, but wow. Lila at least can see that certain things are just not okay, but Saskia just went with it, and I now have a lot of questions about her reasoning in general.

Also, it was honestly pretty toxic of Saskia herself to pressure Lila into taking the daguerreotypes in the first place. Like... you do not care about your friend's future because... you're fascinated by a dead fellow? Okay 🤷

►Saskia was high key showing many symptoms of depression but it wasn't spoken about. I mean, she wanted to stay in bed all the time, she was making terribly inappropriate life choices, and seemingly was fine with risking her own (and her friends') hides more than once because she was so desperate to cling to Cornelius. That... isn't rational behavior at all, and red flags were going up for me. I feel like that could have been an awesome thing to acknowledge and show her working toward dealing with, but alas.

Bottom Line: While I had some mixed feelings, I cannot deny that Mercury Boys was an inventive and unique story that I quite enjoyed reading!
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When I think of the story's premise, it's interesting to find out that there's a possibility to time travel by just touching a picture and handling a small dosage of liquid mercury. Yes, liquid mercury has been proven dangerous to humans, but the what-if factor makes you think beyond the scope of safety. What if I could travel back in time through daguerreotypes? It's a scientific game-changer, and I praise Prasad for introducing an original thought behind it. I just wished she delved on it deeper.

The story was okay. I was hoping for more in a lot of areas in the book. Even though Prasad kept things surface level, I think she lost out on the opportunity to build with each set. I would have loved to see how the difference in eras collided with one another. Someone in the 2000s visiting a person in the 1800s has to be scandalous in every way. I was looking for the adverse side effects from tampering with time and the chemical element. I also wanted to see more time spent with the characters from the past. In the direction of how the story goes, we were more focused on teenage peer pressure. The mentioning of visiting the past was just a drop in the pond.

The story didn't turn out how I expected it, and it left me a little empty. There was a lot of potential throughout the book that could've been explored, but I feel like Prasad missed the mark. It wasn't a bad read, just average.
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Disturbing & fascinating.

Those are the first words that come to mind after reading this. Reading the summary, I had no idea where the plot was going to take me. And to be fair, I still have no idea after reading it. I mean, we have this group of girls who suddenly are able to meet long dead people by touching/eating mercury and holding a daguerrotype of them. Saskia, new student at her school befriends Lila, another student who also works at the archives. There, after an encounter with the daguerrotype of a handsome man from the 1800 and a vial of mercury, she is suddenly able to talk to him in her dreams. Saskia then develops an obsession for that man, and embarks Lila and some other friends in her theories.

So, I really picked this book because of its concept. It's so unique! I loved the mystery of understanding how this all works. How can Saskia fall in love with a man who died over 100 years ago? How do the daguerrotypes and mercury work? I was really curious.

In the book itself, we get to read more about the interactions between the girls, and their own adventures with what they call their "Mercury Boys". We merely are brought into this social circle, watching how far the group of friends is willing to take the whole dead boyfriend thing. I must say this is something which was interesting to read. The tension kept building and building! There is this horrible want to know just how far it can go before it blows up!

And this is where I got a little disappointed. I didn't see where the book was taking me. There was no real BANG at the end. I was just like "oh... That's it?". I didn't get the answers I was looking for, and in the end, I was left somewhat confused. It feels like it's not finished. Like there's more to know.

I also strongly hated the girls around Saskia (except Lila, she's a great friend!). I know they are supposed to be a little cliché of teenage girls, but this was sometimes painful to read. I also felt they were a little odd for accepting the whole eating mercury and dating dead guys so easily, but well...

Overall, it was a VERY captivating book because it's so original and unique, but it left me with many unanswered questioned. It made me super frustrated and some things didn't make too much sense for me. But it still caught my interest by how disturbing and fascinating it is? It's actually tough to put words on it. If you like books that stick out from the rest, you might want to try this!
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I received a free eARC from the author/publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. 

My rating reflects the fact that I chose to DNF this book at 15%.

Mercury Boys had a lot of potential, but the execution fell really flat for me. The premise was intriguing - a group of girls form a sisterhood/cult around using mercury and daguerrotypes to time travel to the past to meet the people in the picture. 

I struggled mostly because of the narration. It's in third person limited, and that made me feel at a remove from Saskia. It seemed more like a sketch of what was happening, and so I wasn't invested in the story. I think, had the events of the present been narrated in first person, it would have been a much more successful in engaging me as a reader. There was also a lot of telling, rather than showing. For example, it seemed strange to me that Saskia is suddenly completely obsessed with Robert Cornelius, when there is no build up. We're just told that she is fixated on him. It went from an assignment and a cursory curiosity to 'I want to steal his picture and take it home with me,' and then begging her friend to sneak her in to see the picture again the following night to 'get closure.' 

I also found the dialogue between characters flat, and sometimes confusing. I didn't always know who was talking. I think part of this was that the characters didn't have distinctive voices, and also partially the formatting of the ARC. 

Some of the passages where Lila or Saskia talk about issues such as environmental damage, pollutants, and historical racism sounded kind of preachy and out of the blue, rather than being organically integrated into the story. These moments could have been really meaningful, but they seemed clunky and rushed. 

Formatting was also a problem with time jumps occurring within chapters. There's no indication that time has passed, and while it became clear fairly quickly, it happened a lot, so I spent a significant portion of the time I spent reading feeling confused. 

I think had this gone through another round of editing and polishing, this would have been an excellent read.
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Time travel to meet people by touching their photographs? Yes, please! This had a killer concept, but I felt it was a little slow at times.

After a messy divorce, Saskia and her dad move to a new town. She makes one new friend, Lila, who introduces her to a new type of photograph made with mercury - a daguerreotype. The girls eventually discover that by playing with mercury - yikes! - and then going to sleep holding the photographs, they can meet the men in them in their dreams. Each chooses a boyfriend from the past, and they bring three new friends into it - popular, smart Paige, cheerleader Adrienne and master manipulator and wild child Sara Beth.

I wish all of the relationships had a little more depth. I wanted more from the boyfriends in the past, especially Saskia's pick, Cornelius.

The book was at its best when dealing with bullying and jealousy of teen girls and the ways they can easily create a secret world just for them. It gives a devastating portrait of the differences between toxic friendships and true friends.

Despite a few flaws, the concept kept me reading.

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for the advance review copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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Mercury Boys starts out with total Kindred by Octavia Butler vibes and I am here for it!! Saskia is new to town after a terribly embarrassing familial event. Being assigned a research paper and choosing Robert Cornelius at random sets off a chain of events. The Mercury Boys Club is formed and these 5 friends bond over the wild stories of love and time travel. There is a massive twist to this novel. And I’m not going to lie, I had predicted it. But I feel the author did a great job of making me second guess myself. Like I kept wondering when this kind of major plot point would boil over and then would wonder if I was putting too much into something that wasn’t significant. Overall I was intrigued enough to keep reading.
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This felt a little too "out there" for me. I think this book would be super interesting for people who have the ability to suspend reality.
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Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the eARC of this novel. 
2/5 Stars. 

I really...really wanted to like this. I really did. The cover drug me in along with the historical concept of daguerrotypes and stories and all that...but it just wasn't good. It kind of reminded me of that one scene at the end of Ep2 of Loki with the branches ya know...yeah. Like Saskia had SO much potential in terms of character development, but she spent 80% of the story being manipulative and upset. I wanted Lila to leave leave her, but even Lila forgave too easily. Paige is terrifying. Adrienne deserves better. Like...I don't know how to describe what I read? Let's give it a try. 

Stealing daguerrotypes and mercury. Using mercury to travel back in time to meet the person in the daguerrotype. forming basically a cult. getting tattoos and creepy candle circles and pledging for LIFE in this club. was scary manipulative and also stupid at some points. 

There was such potential, and I really just don't think it met it. I'm struggling to think of anything good about this book besides the actual concept itself. And the title. and the cover.
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This book had a lot of potential - a fascinating plot, involving time-travel and a secret society and sisterhood that quickly turns dark. Unfortunately, it falls flat in execution and I found myself bored almost entirely throughout.

The characters are mostly bland - it wasn't that I disliked Saskia, but I just didn't care for her. I liked Lila, the only likable and reasonable character of them all, but the other side characters were entirely one-dimensional. We were able to see the sisterhood between the girls form, and take a turn for the worst, but the turnaround was so quick that it felt almost comical. A lot felt underdeveloped.

I didn't care for the romance aspect either. At first, them going back in time to their mercury boys was interesting, but there was no development so quickly turned boring. There was no resolution to it either - just how did it really happen?

Overall, an interesting plot but lacklustre writing.
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I thought this was a good read, but not a great one -- it has potential in story and characters. However, they felt underrepresented. I also thought the voice and tone were jarring, and maybe it just didn't work for me personally. Mercury Boys by Chandra Prasad is a good YA book; I would say high school might enjoy it especially.
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This book has potential, it’s gets your curiosity by the synopsis. But once I started reading I quickly realized I was not my thing. I found the characters toxic and I was getting crazy by the none solved questions and keeps you wondering. I think the writing was something you will definitely enjoy but the story not for me. I know few costumers will definitely enjoy this type of book so I will recommend too. Thanks for give the chance to read and is wish you the best Chandra :)
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Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with an ARC of Mercury Boys in return for an honest review!

Wow, I am in love with this book. The characters were absolutely everything! Everyone needs to read this book.
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A lot of the interpersonal relationships felt underdeveloped and the pacing was not consistent. I feel like if they had been more fleshed out I would have enjoyed this book a lot more!
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I can see this appealing to high school mystery and historical fiction readers. I did feel like their are many unanswered questions left at the end.
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The premise of this book had me so excited to read it. I did still live the unique concept. What lost it for me is the petty squabbling between the girls, it really pulled me away from what should have been a bonding experience, because if this I found most of the characters unlikable. I also wish that some outcomes could have been better.
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An extremely intriguing plot summary resulted in a good read that overall I didn't feel as much connection with as I would have liked.
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This book has such an intriguing premise that, unfortunately, doesn't reach its full potential.  I wanted so much more from the girl's visits to their "Mercury Boys".  Instead, the book focuses on the high school girls' toxic relationships with each other.  The only character I found likable was Lila, who is horribly used by the other four girls.  The book wasn't at all what I thought it would be and leaves you with way too many unanswered questions.

Thank you to NetGalley and Soho Teen for access to this arc.
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Unique and different and well written and highly enjoyable. Thr only thing im sad about is the pictures didnt show up on my kindle i feel like that would have made me love the story even more so i picture everything in my head i have nothing bad to say about this book because it did set well with me and made me indulge into the book and hels ny interest.
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First of all, thanks for Soho Press and Netgalley for this ARC in exchange for a honest review! 

I had a lot of hopes for this book because everything about it sounded very intriguing and interesting, but I literally had to force myself to keep going at several points. Even though I still can see the potential with the synopsis, the delivery wasn't good at all. 

Many plot points lacked depth and explanation, the friendships were too shallow and the way the author tried to imitate teenage friendships was just a failure- reading the text messages almost gave me a stroke. 

This book could've been one of my favorite reads this year and it really did made me excited from time to time (though that didn't happen until I was almost halfway done with it) but I was still not very impressed. Many questions were left unanswered as well. Like I stated earlier, it lacked explanation and depth which made me question what I was reading. 

And for the characters; every character from this book excluding Lila (because she was literally the only sane one out of all of them and it was obvious that Saskia and the others were just using her) was a bore and irritating to read. I didn't feel a connection to any of them or their friendships at any given point which is surprising because I started this book thinking that "female friendships" was somewhat an important topic but it really didn't do a good job. 

As for the main character, she barely got any character development and the her ending wasn't satisfactory at all. The author could've handled her a lot better than she have, especially the fact that she's biracial... I know that Chandra Prasad is biracial herself but I don't think she's Black which makes certain descriptions and parts in this book very odd and unnecessary, maybe even problematic. As much as I understood she didn't really care about the rep because it wasn't even average, it was just bad. 

I'm rating this book 2 stars because of Lila and the potential it had. I expected so much better from this book.
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