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Mercury Boys

by Chandra Prasad

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Rating is 3 1/2 stars. Mercury Boys is the story of Saskia who has moved from Arizona to Connecticut with her father because of her mother's affair and her parents subsequent separation. She and her father have been traumatized by her mother's behavior and are trying to recover and start anew. Saskia befriends Lila, a classmate who works in a university library which contains early photographs called daguerreotypes. Saskia accidentally discovers that if she touches mercury, she can travel back in time to meet the man in the picture.
This information is shared with some other girls and a secret society is formed with the girls choosing a daguerreotype illicitly from Lila's library.
The original concept, creativity and writing is excellent in Mercury Boys. The time travel and historical elements are fascinating and could have been further explored. The focus seemed to be more on the toxic friendships and bullying within the group of girls. I did not like any of the characters with the exception of Lila who demonstrated some responsibility and paid a price for caving to pressure from the other girls. Overall, there was a disjointed feel to the story and the reader is left wanting more. However, I will definitely look for future books from this author as she is a talented writer. #BooksForwardFriends ( )
  PennyOlson | Nov 7, 2021 |
Saskia Brown has just moved from Arizona to the small town of Coventon after her parents have divorced. Saskia is feeling majorly blah over the whole ordeal and hasn't found where she fits in. Saskia's one friend so far is another outsider, Lila. When Saskia is assigned to research Robert Cornelious for one of her classes, she finally feels excited about something. Saskia encourages Lila to let her borrow the original daguerreotype of Robert Cornelious from Lila's job at the college library. While at the library, Lila shows Saskia the tools used to make daguerreotypes and Saskia touches some mercury. Later that evening, Saskia dreams of Robert in his shop, talks with him and learns things she possibly couldn't have known. Saskia shares her dream experience with Lila and a few other girls at school- Paige, Sarah Beth and Adrienne. They each steal a daguerreotype and some Mercury, dreaming and interacting with their boyfriends in the past. However, as the girls dream, the Mercury Boys club becomes more intense and the rules make it difficult for the girls to have lives outside of the club. Is it even real or just a fever dream?

Mercury Boys is a completely unique young adult book. I was intrigued by the idea of being able to dream and interact with people in the past by touching their daguerreotype and mercury. I also liked learning about Robert Cornelious, a real historical figure who is noted to have taken the first selfie. Saskia's character pulled me into this idea with a man from the past helping her deal better with her situation in the present. Lila was the most interesting character for me and the only one that seemed to think about her actions and not get pulled into the other girl's antics. I did enjoy reading about the girl's dreams in the past and how they adapted to life in different eras. Adrienne's Mercury Boy in the Civil War era was the most interesting to me. I do wish that the story focused more on just Lila and Saskia. Paige and Sara Beth reminded me why teenaged girls are literally the worst as they use the Mercury Boys Club for their own purposes. This did add an increased element of suspense and danger, but I do feel like enough tension could have been created between Saskia and Lila and the daguerreotypes they chose. Overall, a diverse young adult read that blends time travel and romance as well as explores race, friendship, sexuality and revenge.

This book was received for free in return for an honest review. ( )
  Mishker | Aug 27, 2021 |
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. ( )
  Asingrey | Jul 25, 2021 |
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