The Office of Mercy: A Novel [NOOK Book]

Overview

“A cool and compelling” (Flavorwire) debut of a new postapocalyptic world for fans of The Hunger Games

On the screen and on the page, dystopian fantasies have captivated the public imagination. In The Office of Mercy, debut novelist Ariel Djanikian has conceived a chilling, post-apocalyptic page-turner that has earned her glowing ...
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The Office of Mercy: A Novel

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Overview

“A cool and compelling” (Flavorwire) debut of a new postapocalyptic world for fans of The Hunger Games

On the screen and on the page, dystopian fantasies have captivated the public imagination. In The Office of Mercy, debut novelist Ariel Djanikian has conceived a chilling, post-apocalyptic page-turner that has earned her glowing comparisons to George Orwell and Suzanne Collins.


In America-Five, there is no suffering, hunger, or inequality. Its citizens inhabit a high-tech Utopia established after a global catastrophe known as the Storm radically altered the planet. Twenty-four-year-old Natasha Wiley works in the Office of Mercy, tasked with humanely terminating—or “sweeping”—the nomadic Storm survivors who live Outside. But after she joins a select team and ventures Outside for the first time, Natasha slowly unravels the mysteries surrounding the Storm—and the secretive elders who run America-Five.


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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In this thoughtful debut, Djanikian explores the disconnect between a utopian vision and its dystopian implementation. America-Five is one of several self-contained habitats built in an attempt to survive in an overcrowded and deprived world. Once the habitats’ settlers set off the Storm, the world’s population dropped from a staggering 59 billion to mere hundreds of thousands. Three hundred years later, population is tightly controlled both within and outside the settlements, with each habitat’s Office of Mercy benevolently killing members of the starving, scrounging outside tribes to ease their suffering. Natasha Wiley, a young citizen assigned to the Office of Mercy, knows empathy will only get in the way of her necessary work, but when she comes into close contact with one of the tribes, her reaction sets off world-changing events. Despite the emphasis on human emotion, Djanikian’s approach is more cerebral than emotionally satisfying, and readers may respond by trying to poke holes in the intriguing premise rather than enjoying the ride. Agent: Jenni Ferrari-Adler, Brick House. (Mar.)
From the Publisher
"Emily Zeller delivers the combination of love, science, and philosophy in this debut novel with empathy and compassion. . . .Listeners of all ages will be engrossed by the stylish narration as well as the futuristic drama and surprise ending." —-AudioFile
all
“As Orwell knew, the best dystopian fiction is close enough to reality to make it scarily believable. . . . It's the same way in Ariel Djanikian's thrilling debut The Office of Mercy. . . . At its heart, The Office of Mercy is a thriller. . . . Scary and realistic. . . Fast-paced. . . Exciting to read. . . . With Natasha, Djanikian has crafted a hero who is memorable precisely because of her imperfections. . . . It's fascinating, and at times heartbreaking, to witness her incremental growth as she begins to question everything she's been taught. It takes a blend of intelligence and compassion to pull off that kind of convincing character arc, but it also takes great authorial skill. . . . The Office of Mercy is an indisputable page turner with a surprising ending — and crafting prose. . . . The stunning, willfully oblivious cruelty of America-Five is chilling because of its plausibility — you don't have to look past our own history for examples of mass slaughter, eugenics and euphemized government propaganda. It's hard to miss the echoes of Orwell in Djanikian's dark vision of both the past and the future.
—Michael Schaub, npr.org

A cool and compelling dystopian bildungsroman from a debut author we imagine we’ll be hearing a lot more from.”
—Emily Temple, Flavorwire

“A remarkable coming-of-age dystopian novel, fast-paced and thought provoking throughout.”
—Largehearted Boy

“[A] horrifically brutal, compelling debut. . . . A grim muse on a future with shades of The Hunger Games, Djanikian’s first offering should attract readers voracious for this popular subgenre.”
Booklist(starred review)
  
“The title of Ariel Djanikian’s first book, The Office of Mercy, is as disturbing as it is ironically fitting. Using a fresh, effortless descriptive style, Djanikian projects us into a futuristic world wiped clean by a man-made devastation called the Storm. . . . Djanikian puts us through the ethical ringer. . . . Which isn’t to say there’s not also a good deal of juice here, too—Natasha totally bust an actual move on her superior, as opposed to resorting to passive cybering.”
Whitney Dwire, Bust magazine
 
Fascinating. . . . Djanikian’s fictitious world combines both the horrifying consequences of ethnic cleansing with the bright new hope of how much one person can do to change history. Both believable and chilling, this tale transports readers to a futuristic utopic life where good and evil mingle with equal opportunity and are often indistinguishable to the characters. This intriguing slice of future drama ends much too soon, and will leave readers begging for a sequel, if not a series.”
—Kirkus Reviews
 
“[Djanikian] truly shines by plunging her characters into existential crises as they question and finally confront the foundations on which their lives are built. Fans of sci-fi and speculative fiction will enjoy this adventurous exploration of human nature.”
—Tobias Mutter, Shelf Awareness for Readers
 
Intriguing premise. . . . In this thoughtful debut, Djanikian explores the disconnect between a utopian vision and its dystopian implementation. . . . Natasha Wiley, a young citizen assigned to the Office of Mercy, knows empathy will only get in the way of her necessary work, but when she comes into close contact with one of the tribes, her reaction sets off world-changing events.”
—Publishers Weekly
 
“If you think a future world without suffering would be a good thing, Ariel Djanikian will convince you to reconsider in her impressive debut The Office of Mercy. Gripping, well-plotted, and boasting a fascinating setting, this utterly engrossing tale is thoughtful and surprising. Djanikian's adroit writing turns the elements of the dystopian novel on their head, and the central character’s struggles in America-Five were, by turns, both starkly foreign and hauntingly familiar.”
—Deborah Harkness, New York Times bestselling author of A Discovery of Witches and Shadow of Night
 

“I gulped this startlingly smart debut down, unable to stop before I found out what happened to brave Natasha and her America-Five compatriots.”
—Emma Straub, author of Laura Lamont’s Life in Pictures
 
The Office of Mercy confronts us with a portrait of a smoothly heartless world that’s viscerally imagined, increasingly harrowing, and beautifully moving. As we continue to squander or destroy the finite resources our planet has remaining, and the gap between the elite and the trampled continues to widen, the heartbreaking and chilling vision that Ariel Djanikian outlines starts to seem like our most—if not our only— plausible future.”
—Jim Shepard, author of Like You’d Understand, Anyway
 
“Ariel Djanikian has written a novel of strange and stirring passions. Her dystopia is familiar to us because it is the land of our nightmares, our myths, and histories—yet Djanikian infuses it with startling novelty. The writing is both languidly sensual and suspenseful. This novel ushers in an important new voice.”
—Laura Kasischke, author of In a Perfect World
 
“An action-packed novel of fascinating ideas set in a fully-imagined world that is both alluring and terrifying. Serious, entertaining, and seriously entertaining.”
—Charles Yu, author of How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe
 

Library Journal
Life in America-Five, one of many dome-covered settlements that cross what was once America, is controlled, clean, and safe. Citizens of the settlement are taught that they have moved beyond the harshness of nature, the uncertainties of biology, that they are the pinnacle of the human species. Natasha Wiley believes the doctrine of her community without question and has the privilege of working in the settlement’s Office of Mercy. Her task is to end the suffering of all humans left outside the dome. When Natasha is allowed out on a rare mission, her encounters with one of the remaining tribes of humans lead her to question all she has been taught, including the very core of her beliefs—her identity.

Verdict Remarkably, Djanikian’s debut novel leads us to find sympathy, even understanding, with Natasha’s culture. Just as we are aware that the settlement’s “Office of Mercy” is essentially a euphemism for genocide, we feel Natasha’s conflicts among what she has been taught, those she loves, and her changing understanding of right and wrong. Billed as a YA crossover dystopian novel, this book makes for an interesting read that will appeal to fans of Julianna Baggott’s “Pure” trilogy as well as the dystopian fiction of Margaret Atwood and Justin Cronin. [See Prepub Alert, 8/9/13.]—Jennifer Beach, Cumberland Cty. P.L., VA

(c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Kirkus Reviews
A fascinating view of a post-apocalyptic America, penned by a first-time novelist. Natasha lives in America-Five, one of the domed, indoor settlements created by survivors of what is referred to as "the Storm," which left the world decimated. Those housed inside the Dome live in a world without want or even death. Food, shelter and health care are provided to the carefully cultivated generations that dwell inside, while those who live on the "Outside" struggle with the elements, as well as hunger, danger and disease. But the elders of the America settlements have seen fit to provide their laboratory-generated succeeding generations with a guidebook that explains the colony's ethics. They believe in killing what they refer to as "Tribes" in order to prevent their suffering. Natasha works in the Office of Mercy, the division in charge of staging and carrying out "sweeps," which is what America-Five calls the mass killings. When a group of tribesmen destroy some of the sensors used to launch sweeps, Natasha's immediate supervisor, Jeffrey, taps her for the mission to reset the sensors. That means Natasha must venture outside the Dome, risking contamination from an uncontrolled atmosphere but also seeing firsthand the people she's been tracking all of her adult life. Something takes place on that mission that causes Natasha to reassess her beliefs, and it affects both her view of the tribes as well as the philosophical position of the Dome's leaders. Djanikian's fictitious world combines both the horrifying consequences of ethnic cleansing with the bright new hope of how much one person can do to change history. Both believable and chilling, this tale transports readers to a futuristic utopian life where good and evil mingle with equal opportunity and are often indistinguishable to the characters. This intriguing slice of future drama ends much too soon and will leave readers begging for a sequel, if not a series.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781101606100
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
  • Publication date: 2/21/2013
  • Sold by: Penguin Group
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 320
  • Sales rank: 223,774
  • File size: 732 KB

Meet the Author

Ariel Djanikian is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and holds and MFA from the University of Michigan. She lives in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, with her husband and daughter.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 4 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Posted February 1, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    A decent dystopian read with an unexpected ending. Did I enjoy

    A decent dystopian read with an unexpected ending.

    Did I enjoy this book: I did enjoy this book. I read it every free chance I had. I even stayed away from social media and the blog in order to read this book uninterrupted. Well, as uninterrupted as I could with my three kids at home. Bottom line, I didn’t want to put it down for anything.




    This review may seem a bit vague but if I say to much, I will spoil the different-ness of this book.




    This was a somewhat different twist on the whole dystopia-utopia genre. This is an adult read that any generation (YA, NA, adult) of reader could enjoy. This is also a pretty clean read as well. The story itself is well-thought out and realistic. Scary realistic. Even the eternal life aspect isn’t that far-fetched. The mindset of the Alphas and those below them is interesting and quite reasonable. Natasha is our leading lady, but she isn’t the “usual” dystopian leading lady. For me, she was unexpected, intriguing, and refreshing. She questions, she thinks, she considers. She tries.




    The ending was not at all what I expected. I really liked it. The Office of Mercy left me wanting more, but not needing more. I wouldn’t mind seeing what happens next in America-Five, but I’m okay with the scenarios playing out in my  mind if there isn’t a sequel.




    Would I recommend it: I would recommend this book. It is a decent dystopian read with an unexpected ending.




    Will I read it again: I will not.




    (I received a copy of this book for review purposes.)

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 20, 2013

    My secibd favorite book

    This is a book about a poeple made powerful by the use of voilence but led by emotions of mercy and love for all set against a primitive group of survivors who pursue peace as they are consumed with bloodlust and anger and a girl who decides to question her ethical code
    Its morally gray and the closest thing to a good side and an evil side is a winner and a loser.
    The ending is my fsvorite of all time though the middle made things deceptivley look predictable .
    This book made me dream of a better world and think about my moral code and the justifucations we use for our own moral crimes.
    I like the protagonist and i found her evolution as a charavter to be one of the best i have read.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 11, 2013

    **I received this book for free through Goodreads First Reads**

    **I received this book for free through Goodreads First Reads**
    I really enjoyed this book until I got towards the very end.  I was unhappy with how it ended.  I cringed when Natasha swept her family, the Pines, especially because she did not even resist against doing so.  The Natasha that I had loved throughout the novel was lost to me; she was a completely different person and it broke my heart to see the fight leave her heart and soul.  She was resigned to living the way the Alphas wanted her to, something that had never been an issue for her prior to this.
    I could not understand why the Pines lied to Natasha.  I was hoping that she would be able to speak to Axel or one of the others and they would tell her that it was not what it looked like, that something happened (such as the citizens attacked first and they were only defending themselves) that caused them to abort the original plan at the last moment.  But we never get to find out exactly what happened, because Natasha never gets to speak to her family again.
    To make matters worse, the last two or three pages showed even further how gone the real Natasha really was.  She was not even willing to move out of the settlement, WITH Jeffrey, to get away from the killings.  Furthermore, the end left what happens to Jeffrey in the future up in the air.
    Okay, so that was all the bad.  But there was a LOT of good as well, up to the last few chapters.  I loved the surprise twist when Natasha finds out that she is really one of the Tribes and was taken into the settlement when the Palms were swept.  The surprises continued when she finds out that Jeffrey was the one who saved her from the fire and brought her Inside and then later when she find out why he did that.  The relationships portrayed between the different characters were strong and real, and I could imagine what it was like being in those relationships, especially living with Min-He.  Each of the main characters as well as the secondary characters were well developed, and it was usually easy to think "What would this character do in this situation?" and come up with a correct answer.  
    I enjoyed the writing style of Ariel Djanikian, and I am looking forward to reading more from her in the future.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 16, 2014

    No text was provided for this review.

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