May 22, 2015

Review: The Evolution of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin

I'll walk forever with stories inside me that the people I love the most can never hear. 

YA Book Review - The Book Rest - The Evolution of Mara Dyer by Michelle HodkinTitle: The Evolution of Mara Dyer
Author: Michelle Hodkin
Genre: Contemporary? Paranormal? Horror?! 
Rating: A-
Recommended For: Fans of light-horror because this is becoming one scary ride! 
Source: Public Library

One-sentence review: If you thought the first book in this series was crazy (pardon the pun), get ready for a roller coaster of emotions, surprises and new obstacles for Mara Dyer as she tries to figure out her powers and why someone is targeting her.

TBR It: Goodreads
Buy It: Amazon

This review contains spoilers for The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer (Book 1 in this series)

Michelle Hodkin's second novel in her Mara Dyer series,  The Evolution of Mara Dyer, has even more twists, turns and surprises than you would expect, which is really saying something. We find Mara in almost the exact same situation as in at the beginning of The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer: in a hospital with almost no recollection of how she got there. Only this time Mara is restrained and under psychiatric care. Nobody believes that she saw her ex-boyfriend Jude still alive. In fact they have surveillance footage from the police station proving that it could not have been Jude that Mara saw. Noah is the only person who trusts Mara and will stop at nothing to protect her. The only problem is, Mara might need more protection than Noah can offer. If Mara wants to avoid being sent to live in a mental health facility, she must play the game of acting healthy, which might inevitably prove to be impossible.

What makes this story such an exhilarating experience is that there is so much going on and yet, as a reader, I don't feel annoyed by that. Usually if a story has too many directions I get frustrated and overwhelmed. But Hodkin weaves all of the threads of this story so that you trust the outcome will be a worthwhile finished product (I sure hope I'm right!).

Mara is coping with some strange supernatural abilities that she's somehow inherited and trying to figure out why she has them, especially in relation to similarities with her grandmother. She has strange dreams that seem like flashbacks from her grandmother's experiences. Mara doesn't know how to control her abilities, how they relate to  her boyfriend's supernatural abilities, or how she can get through life without accidentally killing someone.

But that's just the tip of the iceberg with her problems. She's also being stalked by someone, presumably her ex-boyfriend who everyone thinks is dead. While she's being terrorized, everyone except Noah simply believes she's certifiably insane. While all of this is happening, Mara must do everything she can to prove to her parents and doctors at her out-patient mental health facility that she's just suffering from PTSD. The stress Mara experiences in this book is palpable, it practically jumps off the page. Just when you think you're beginning to make sense of one area, something new happens that completely throws off any logic. The chaos of the story is written succinctly enough that instead of growing frustrated, readers just feel the overwhelming sense of insanity akin to Mara's experience.

The symmetry in this book is something that I really enjoyed from a literary perspective. The trend of Mara in the asylum is powerful and grows more and more claustrophobic. Similarly, the foils of Jude versus Noah is fascinating in regards to Mara. How it's implied that one wants to hurt her and one wants to save her. As the story progresses, I really wanted to know any and everything about Jude: is he a ghost? Is he alive? What is his back story? Obviously if he tried to sexually assault Mara we don't count him as a "good guy", but what is his story? I really hope that we get more information eventually.

The writing in this book is just as masterful as the first book, if not even more vivid and beautiful. It's elegant and witty, smart and juvenile all without sounding pretentious. Mara's narrative voice is one of my favorites I've read yet. There's so much personality in her writing that I wonder if future works by Hodkin will sound the same or if she'll be able to craft yet another colorful personality that has their own strong voice.

Michelle Hodkin's Mara Dyer series is truly unlike anything I've ever read before. I do not enjoy "horror" stories, so perhaps there are more similar stories out there that I just haven't read yet. But even without enjoying horror, I love how spooky, intense and chaotic this book is. The experience of reading it will keep you on the edge of your seat and you will need to know more. I can't wait to finish this series!

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