7 Sept 2018

We Can(ada) Read: Erin @ Bluestocking Bookworm - #Review: MERCURY RISES by Scarlett Kol + #Interview & #Giveaway

We Can(ada) Read is by Canadians for EVERYONE to learn more about some amazing Canadian authors! It is a highlight of Canadian Literature and those of us who promote it as much as possible.

For a full schedule of events, please check out the Kick-Off post!

Scarlett Kol is sponsoring a giveaway for a $20 Amazon Gift Card at the bottom of this post so be sure to scroll to enter!
Bluestocking Bookworm is run by Erin, but you can call her Blue if you want to. She writes books under the pen name C.M. Nelson, but they are all still in the manuscript stage.

Erin is from Canada, where she lives with her wonderful and supportive husband of five years and our cutest-ever furbaby Cricket (a small breed mix we rescued in 2015). She owns approximately 3000 books (not counting my ebooks). When she is not reading, she likes to play video games, bake yummy sweet treats, and play with Cricket.

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Author: Scarlett Kol
Series: N/A
Publisher: Inkspell Publishing
Publication Date: February 13, 2018
Rating: 3/5 stars

A girl looking for a way out.
Being the daughter of New America’s leader, Mercury Masters has everything a girl could want. A glamorous life full of beautiful people, and the power to have anything she wants, except for one thing—to escape. Because Mercury’s perfect life comes with secrets to keep. Dangerous secrets that if made public would destroy her, her family, and her father’s reign. Then she meets Hawk.

A boy looking to be a hero.
Hawk, a handsome prep school dropout turned vigilante, has his own family secrets. Deadly secrets that have haunted him since he was fifteen. But instead of fighting the ghosts of his past, Hawk has assembled a group of misfit hackers and thieves to save the future from the corrupt government of New America and the mysterious virus that is killing off its citizens. But trying to do the right thing is tough when the person you really want to save is your enemy’s daughter.

A love that could kill them both. 
Powerful forces keep them apart, but coming together could be the key to saving New America from destruction—even though it may cost both their lives, in this retelling of the legend of Robin Hood.
Trigger warnings: Abuse (physical - parental and spousal), medical stuff, blood, sickness, mind control, poverty, controlling relationship, unchecked privilege, rich versus poor

Diversity rating: 0 - To read, all characters are white, able-bodied and cishet.

I am generally very wary of books that are self-published, or published by houses that are so small they may as well be self-published. I tend to find the writing is lacking, the editing is atrocious, and the cover design does nothing to draw me in. When I was assigned Mercury Rises by Scarlett Kol for We Can(ada) Read 2018, I was hesitant. What if I hated it?

I was pleasantly surprised.

I actually didn't know this was meant to be a Robin Hood retelling until I was looking up the details to write my review. So, to me that says the Robin Hood element wasn't all that strong or unique. Looking back over the book, I can see it, but there wasn't anything in the moment that made me think "Ah yes, Robin Hood."

The characters outside of Mercury and Hawk are fairly bland and one-dimensional, but as the story focuses on Mercury and Hawk, it isn't bad. Mercury is a typical spoiled rich girl, and it took a lot of time for me to see her as anything else. By the end of the book, I thought of her as a spoiled rich girl who was starting to learn about the world outside of herself. Hawk got on my nerves a lot, as he was very judgemental for a lot of the book. I wasn't overly attached to either of them, but the writing was enough to keep me engaged.

I would really have loved to see Kol expand some more on the story of the plague and the cure. I feel like that would have elevated Mercury Rises from a typical YA to something more. Instead, we see a glimpse of what could have been near the end of the novel, just as things are ramping up and coming to a close.

The worldbuilding wasn't too heavy or intricate. We don't learn much of The Five beyond Mercury's dad. We don't know exactly what led to the downfall of North America that led it to become New America. We don't even really know what part of the country Mercury and her family live in.

Kol's writing style is very good. While the editing of the novel could have been better - some misspelled words slipped through and some plot holes were left - I can appreciate that Kol has a strong sense of voice and storytelling. I look forward to reading more by her.

So, for an insular story that focuses on two people in the whole the world, Mercury Rises wasn't bad. Kol has chops, and if this is her first novel, I can't wait to see what else she comes up with. If you are looking to check out a fairly light Science Fiction/Dystopian YA with some romance, and a few trips to the shadowy side of things... check out Mercury Rises!
Scarlett Kol grew up in Northern Manitoba reading and writing stories about creatures that make you want to sleep with the lights on. As an adult, she's still afraid of the dark. 

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What is your favourite part about being a Canadian author?

Scarlett Kol: My favourite part about being a Canadian author is the honour of getting to be a part of that group. All of the Canadian authors I’ve met are so supportive of each other and helpful in trying to grow and nourish a strong arts community. I’m lucky to be able to be considered one of them.

What do you think Canadian authors can exclusively bring to the table?

Scarlett Kol: Like any writer from any other country, I find that Canadian writers reflect the ideals, values, and observations of growing up in their particular environment, which I feel brings a diversity and experience to writing that is unique. Canada is a beautiful and multicultural country. Although we have our issues, like every other country in the world, we foster a culture of acceptance and warmth that is distinctly ours. Canadian writers that I have encountered project this broad sense of awareness in their writing and I think it is richer for that reason.

What is your favourite “Canadian tradition”?

Scarlett Kol: I originally come from a Northern Manitoba community and my family that has always been heavily into hockey, so I’ve spent a lot of time at the rink. With that comes watching not only minor hockey, but being a huge Winnipeg Jets fan, and spending Christmas vacation watching the World Junior’s. Other than that, I love to take in the local festivals like the Fringe Festival, Folklorama, and the Canada Day Street Festivals in Winnipeg.

How do you think your life as a Canadian overlaps with your writing? Do we see any of this in MERCURY RISES?

Scarlett Kol: Well, I definitely have a bad habit of including a lot of skating and hockey references in my books. None in Mercury, but if you look at any of my other work, they definitely do. 

In Mercury Rises specifically, there are definitely some underlying political views that are impacted by my own views as a Canadian. Don’t get me wrong, Mercury Rises is not a political or “message” type book, but I think when you are dealing with a large political group like The Five, there is bound to be some more of my Canadian views on policy leaking into the story.

Describe MERCURY RISES  in 10 words or less.

Scarlett Kol: Dystopian Robin Hood as told by a rebellious Maid Marian.

What do you hope readers take away from this novel?

Scarlett Kol: First off, I just hope they enjoy it. If a reader took nothing else away from this story than being truly entertained, I would be thrilled. I want readers to feel the butterflies during those first kisses, the hitch of breath during the fights, and intrigue of the underlying mystery to keep turning pages and want to live in the world with these characters. To me that is the ultimate goal as a writer.

Beyond that, I would love for readers to see that good/evil are not absolutes and it’s the choices we make in those shades of grey that make us who we are.  

What was your favourite scene in this novel to write?

Scarlett Kol: There were so many fun action scenes and exciting events that is hard to choose, but to be honest, my favourite scene to write was around the middle of the book where Mercury is scrubbing the infirmary floor and is interrupted by Hawk. I love this scene because it’s a moment of quiet amongst the chaos, and you really start to see the true potential in the relationship between Hawk and Mercury with everything that is said and even more in what is not spoken. At this point Mercury has been completely laid bare and is in a super vulnerable place (sorry, no spoilers). She’s angry, frustrated, and confused with what her next steps should be and Hawk charges in, doing the opposite of what she would expect. It’s a beautiful moment of compassion, and I just love the feels I had writing it.

Where do you think your main characters would want to live if they lived in present day Canada?

Scarlett Kol: If my characters lived in present day Canada, I think they would probably want to live somewhere like rural British Columbia. Some place calm and slower paced, but still close enough to cities to gather information, when needed. I also think for Mercury, she’d personally love the beautiful scenery and the ability to see the stars.

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  1. This was a super fun read, and I look forward to participating in future We Can(ada) Reads events! ♥ Thanks, Jamie!

  2. Awesome read, definitely like to support canada writers


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