Book Review: The Evolution of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin

Mara Dyer once believed she could run from her past.
She can’t.

She used to think her problems were all in her head.
They aren’t.

She couldn’t imagine that after everything she’s been through, the boy she loves would still be keeping secrets.
She’s wrong.

In this gripping sequel to The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer, the truth evolves and choices prove deadly. What will become of Mara Dyer next?

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“They rattled my cage to see if I’d bite. When they released me, they’d see that the answer is yes.”

Although there were many elements of The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer that I didn’t enjoy, that awful cliffhanger ending made it so that I just had to pick up The Evolution of Mara Dyer. And, thankfully, it was a much better read.

The Evolution of Mara Dyer is much more plot-focused than romance-driven, allowing for a plethora of creepy scenes and paranormal occurrences. Between creepy dolls, crows falling from the sky, and threatening messages written in blood, it’s easy to see why I was completely absorbed in the story. My only complaint is that, at times, there seemed to be too much plot, causing the story to feel drawn out over its 500+ pages. The twist at the ending was also painfully obvious, and wasn’t quite as good as what I had imagined, but the intense cliffhanger ending kind of made up for that.

Unreliable narrators are my favourite, and Mara is no exception. Over the course of the story, readers aren’t exactly certain what is truly happening and what is just in Mara’s head – and that just makes it all the more interesting.

I was surprised to find that I actually really enjoyed the relationship between Mara and Noah this time around, mostly because it was a portion of a plot instead of the main focus of the novel. Noah has shown tremendous character growth, and is clearly good for Mara – he truly cares about her, and often is what grounds her in reality. I loved how willing he was to help her; I just wish that his help didn’t always involve throwing money at the problem.

Overall, despite its flaws, I can’t wait to continue this series. Even if it does mean painfully waiting until November for The Retribution of Mara Dyer to finally be released. (Seriously, someone should have warned me about that before I binge-read the first two books…)

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Book Review: The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin

Mara Dyer doesn’t think life can get any stranger than waking up in a hospital with no memory of how she got there.
It can.

She believes there must be more to the accident she can’t remember that killed her friends and left her mysteriously unharmed.
There is.

She doesn’t believe that after everything she’s been through, she can fall in love.
She’s wrong.

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The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer was nothing like I had expected. I went into it expecting an eerie story that would cause me to sleep with the lights on for the next little while; unfortunately, while the beginning started off on such a high note, it was quickly overshadowed by romance.

While the creepy parts lasted, though, they were done exceptionally well. From unexplained hallucinations to a disturbing event that no one could remember, it was easy to say that I was completely absorbed in determining what exactly had happened to Mara and what was still happening to her. Unfortunately, the last 100 pages or so were rather disappointing in that regard: while the paranormal elements that I had been promised finally kicked in at the end, it was unoriginal and predictable. I had so many great theories about what had been happening (my personal favourite of which was dissociative identity disorder), and these paranormal aspects felt incredibly out of place in a book that had read as a contemporary novel/psychological thriller up until that point.

The romance, which took over the majority of the story, was formulaic and cliched. The illustrious Noah Shaw is a prime example of wish fulfillment: he’s gorgeous, intelligent, British, speaks multiple languages, lives in what can only be described as a “palace,” and has eyes only for the new girl, Mara. He’s overprotective and possessive, to the point where he fights to “defend” Mara’s honour. All of this together made me dislike him for the majority of the book, but somehow – inexplicably – he started to grow on me, particularly when he let his guard down or uttered one of his many witty one-liners. I couldn’t forgive the initial impression that he left on me, but I can (kind of) understand why other readers seem to be in love with him.

In terms of the other characters, Mara included, the characterization was a bit rocky and underdeveloped. I didn’t feel as if I got to know any of them – and while it may be that Mara doesn’t really know herself, it was hard to connect with her. Her brothers were just kind of there: one adorably trusting, and the other was the quintessential perfect child. I did appreciate that her parents were present, although they were prone to disappearing at the most convenient times. Mara’s best friend, Jamie, seemed only to be included to diversify the cast, as he didn’t receive much page time or development. The worst characterization, though, goes to Anna, the requisite “mean girl” who was subject to so much slut shaming.

However, despite the many reasons as to why The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer shouldn’t have worked for me, I somehow found myself enjoying it. Here’s hoping the sequel is just as addictive.

Waiting on Wednesday (October 1)

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Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly book meme hosted by Breaking the Spine, which spotlights upcoming releases that are eagerly anticipated.

This week, I’m waiting on The Retribution of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin, which has an expected publication date of November 4, 2014.

Mara Dyer wants to believe there’s more to the lies she’s been told.
There is.

She doesn’t stop to think about where her quest for the truth might lead.
She should.

She never had to imagine how far she would go for vengeance.
She will now.

Loyalties are betrayed, guilt and innocence tangle, and fate and chance collide in this shocking conclusion to Mara Dyer’s story.
Retribution has arrived.

After finally getting around to reading The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer, I’ve been impatiently waiting for the final book in the series. Especially since I read both books in under 24 hours, and the second one ended on such a mean cliffhanger. Here’s hoping it’s filled with lots of deliciously creepy moments!

Which books are you waiting on? Leave me a link or a list to your Waiting on Wednesday post below.

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