THE EVOLUTION OF MARA DYER
(Mara Dyer #2)
Paranormal-ish Young Adult
Simon & Schuster
Available October 23rd
Received from publisher for review
Warning: Review contains a spoiler from book one, but NO spoilers from Evolution.
THE STORY (from Goodreads)
Mara Dyer once believed she could run from her past.
She used to think her problems were all in her head.
She couldn’t imagine that after everything she’s been through, the boy she loves would still be keeping secrets.
this gripping sequel to The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer, the truth evolves
and choices prove deadly. What will become of Mara Dyer next?
Deeply intriguing and deliciously unnerving, The Evolution of Mara Dyer meets the bar set by its predecessor and then raises it higher, delighting us with a world of reality and possible delusion so intricately woven together we can’t begin to separate the strands, instead we simply hold on and put ourselves in the very capable hands of Ms. Hodkin. So often times reading the second book in a beloved series is extremely nerve-wracking, the worry that it won’t live up to the first a tangible weight we feel as we crack the spine, and while that sense of anticipation is certainly present when we begin this tale, it quickly dissipates as Mara’s story gets infinitely more complex and holds us completely rapt.
From our time with her in The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer, we know she’s untrustworthy as a narrator; hallucinations, memory lapses, and supernatural happenings ensuring our faith in the reality of what she's seeing is shaky at best, and the foundations of our limited trust in her are rattled even further in this second book. We want so badly to believe in her, to scream at the top of our lungs our surety that Jude is alive just as she claims, but at the back of our minds a kernel of doubt remains, and like Mara’s family, we constantly evaluate her every thought and action, looking for the smallest of indicators to tell us whether or not her interpretation of events is reliable. It’s a special kind of beautiful torture to read Mara’s story, the guilt over our inability to silence the niggling doubts combining with our fear for her physical, emotional, and mental welfare to leave us thoroughly unsettled.
Noah is a pillar of strength for Mara in this second installment, someone who can do what even we as readers can’t – tell her unflinchingly that he believes her. While in the beginning Noah is present and accounted for, he’s also fairly quiet and reserved, some of the cocky arrogance dimmed in the face of Mara’s new problems. We can see the wheels turning in his head, but he keeps them frustratingly to himself, hiding a lot of his thoughts from both Mara and us until we can almost feel him slipping away even though he’s physically close by. It’s not until the latter half of the story that Ms. Hodkin decides to loosen a few of the bolts holding his armor in place, and we’re given a few tiny pieces of Noah that, despite their small size, are enough to bring us to our knees. Where our pain for Mara is acute as she is so clearly struggling with the increasing frailty of her mind and her sanity, our pain for Noah is equally profound, the doors to his soul cracked open for us ever-so slightly toward the end, giving us an unforgettable glimpse at a young man who’s an expert at containment – only ever releasing careful truths on a schedule of his own making.
Overall, The Evolution of Mara Dyer is an absolutely stunning sequel, packed with small clues we desperately grasp at with frantic fingers, adding them to a mental pile we plan on reviewing later to see if we can decipher this most addicting of puzzles. The ending leaves us with a cruel twist to our lips as some revelations are made clear to Mara, a throbbing pain in our hearts as the aftermath of the final pages actually registers, and a steady hum of anticipation as Mara decides on a course of action moving forward to the next book.
Don't forget to check out today's stop for the Madly In Love Blog Tour at Mundie Moms for the latest Evolution teaser and a chance to win a finished copy of the book! You can get all the details and the full schedule here.