The Evolution of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin
Book Two of the Mara Dyer series
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: October 23, 2012
Rating: 4 stars
Source: Purchased copy
Summary (from Goodreads):
Mara Dyer knows she isn't crazy. She knows that she can kill with her mind, and that Noah can heal with his. Mara also knows that somehow, Jude is not a hallucination. He is alive. Unfortunately, convincing her family and doctors that she's not unstable and doesn't need to be hospitalised isn't easy. The only person who actually believes her is Noah. But being with Noah is dangerous and Mara is in constant fear that she might hurt him. She needs to learn how to control her power, and fast! Together, Mara and Noah must try and figure out exactly how Jude survived when the asylum collapsed, and how he knows so much about her strange ability...before anyone else ends up dead!
What I Liked:
I've been on a mission to finish the Mara Dyer trilogy and start reading the Shaw Confessions books, now that we're officially waiting on book two to publish in November. Back in the day, I read The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer and the beginning of Evolution, and none of Retribution. I've reread Unbecoming, and now I've finished Evolution! I loved the first book and I really enjoyed this second one, and I can't wait to read book three.
This book starts with Mara waking up to find herself in a hospital room, where she will be staying because her parents want her to get help... permanently. No one believes her when she tells them that she saw Jude, her ex-boyfriend, alive and whole and in town. Despite what everyone believes, Jude is alive - Mara just need to prove it. The only person that believes her is Noah, but even he has secrets that he isn't telling Mara. Mara and Noah must figure out what is going in terms of Jude, before it's too late and Mara is never seen again.
Most of this book deals with Mara's psychological state - is she hallucinating, or is what she is seeing real? She is what is considered an unreliable narrator, especially since the story is written in first-person. We have no idea what is real and what isn't, because everything is coming from her POV. Is Jude real, or a figment of her imagination? Does Mara have PTSD and something else, or just PTSD? Is Jude behind everything?
With this being a psychological thriller, the tone of the story is very chilling at times, very sinister. There were times when my skin broke out in goosebumps and I couldn't unglue my eyes from the pages. The creepy feeling was there, and while I don't enjoy feeling creeped out, I will say that the author did a really good job in building suspense and the chill factor.
I should note: there are mentions and implications of possible sexual assault, and attempted suicide. Neither event actually happens but both are mentioned.
I really felt for Mara in this book. I liked her in book one, and I liked her in this book. It's not her fault she can't trust her own mind. It's not her fault that any of this is happening to her. Every time doctors didn't believe her, or her parents made decisions for her, I wanted to shake them. We as readers are fairly confident that not everything that Mara is seeing and experiencing is imagined, and so it's sad to see no one believing her. Mara thinks she has a broken mind and a really strange ability involving death, but she is much more. She is also kind in her own way, and vulnerable, and brave too. She confronts her demons towards the end of the book, and she is selfless.
I can't talk about this book and not talk about Noah. Noah Shaw seems like the angelic bad-boy of the school, with the perfect British accent and flawless good looks and flippant attitude. He seems like he has it all, from charisma to handsomeness to affluence, but as we learn in this book, there is more to him than meets the eye. We find out some things that are heartbreaking, and some things that are respectable, and some things that make him seem more vulnerable. I adore Noah; I always figured the perfect bad-boy thing was a facade and not a one-dimensional effect.
We get to see some familiar characters, like Mara's parents and brothers of course, but also Jamie (Mara's best friend), which was really cool because I thought we'd never see him again after book one. There is also this "before" set of chapters interspersed throughout the story, which involves a young Indian girl in the past, who befriends the master's daughter. This plot doesn't seem to fit at first, but then it really does. Pay attention to the characters in that sidebar "before" plot.
We do get to learn more about Noah and Mara's abilities, so hang in there if you're confused! I won't say any more than that.
The romance is barely there, especially with the focus being on Mara getting better and getting worse. Mara wants more with Noah, but Noah doesn't want to take advantage of her... it's an interesting tug-of-way. I hope there will be more ~romance~ in book three. I like Noah and Mara together and I hope they work through things.
I won't say anything about the climax and ending except that it is and isn't what you'd expect. A lot goes down and some key appearances are made... and the ending is so cruel, in terms of a cliffhanger. I'm glad I waited until the series was complete because now I can jump right into Retribution without having to be tortured with the wait.
What I Did Not Like:
Maybe more Noah/Mara intensity and romance, but that's it? I really liked this book. It made me on edge at times, and also sad, and I enjoyed it.
Would I Recommend It:
If you like psychological thrillers, this is definitely the series for you. This sequel novel is different from the first book because it gets intense (in terms of Mara's mental state and the whole Jude thing). I can see people not loving this one as much as book one, but I think it sets up the third book perfectly. I highly recommend binge-reading the books, don't start reading them if you don't have all of them!
4 stars. I'm annoyed that I waited so long to finish this book, but at the same time I'm glad I waited so that I would be able to start reading Retribution as soon as I want. The ending of this book was cruel and I am so anxious to see how Mara gets out of the situation. And I'm dying to see how other characters fared. Hodkin has written such an intriguing series here, and I can't wait to finish it!
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