Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Review: The Evolution of Mara Dyer

THE EVOLUTION OF MARA DYER
(Mara Dyer #2)
Michelle Hodkin
Paranormal-ish Young Adult
544 pages
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 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?


MY THOUGHTS
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.

Rating: 5/5
 

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.

43 comments:

  1. Wow, quite the high recommendation. I need to skim the first book to make sure I remember it before reading the second one. I'm sure excited to pick it up though!

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    1. I didn't skim the first one before reading this one and wasn't too confused, she does a nice job reminding readers of what happened without giving them an all out summary of what happened:)

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  2. *sigh* how I loved this book! But, I have to say I missed the "old" Noah a little in this book and sometimes I was not sure what he was up too... But this book was filled with intrigue, thrill and romance!

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    1. Agreed, he wasn't quite the same in the first half, but I loved the Noah we got in the second half. He was worth the wait:)

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  3. Woah! Wonderful review, Jenny. Definitely a high recommendation from you. Glad to see you enjoyed this. I was actually a little worried this might not be as good as the first one. It's good to hear that this one seems even better. I can't wait to read this. :)

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    1. I really liked that she gave us some answers in this book, she didn't string us along prepping us for the 3rd book. There are definitely still a lot of questions raised, but I'm good with that as long as I've learned some new things along the way:)

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  4. Skimming a bit in fear of spoilers. But all in all, a 5! Wow...I need to know what's going on in this book

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    1. No spoilers here:) It's a fantastic series, I hope you pick it up!

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  5. I had iffy issues with the first book but I really want to find out what happens and where the story goes, so I will be reading this one......great review Jenny!!

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    1. It's not a series for everyone, but I just love it. I love wondering whether or not I can believe Mara, she just keeps me guessing the whole time:)

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  6. Wow! 5 out of 5 stars! Yay! I was so worried that it wasn't going to be as good as the first book, but now I am relieved. I can't wait to get my hands on a copy of this. I'm loving the small clues that you say the author includes....love when they do that! It makes for such an exciting read. Plus, I heart Noah! Can't wait!

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    1. I LOVE NOAH CHRISTINA!!! The know in the second half of this one made me fall even more in love with him than I already was:)

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  7. I'm so happy to hear the sequel lives up to the first book and boy I can't wait to read it. Fantastic review!

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    1. I hope you love it as much as I did!

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  8. I just skipped to your rating as I haven't read the first book (Epic fail on my part, I know. I suck.) and it looks like I have to really read this one soon. Glad to know that book 2 is already out.

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    1. READ IT RUMMANAH! It's all dark and strange and I loved it:)

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  9. JENNY! If this book wasn't already on my wishlist, it would be on there RIGHT NOW. For me, Evolution is really pivotal in terms of my enjoyment of the series (it could make it or break it), but it sounds like I may not have much to worry about! :)

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    1. I thought she did a brilliant job with this second installment - she gave just me just the right number of answers to keep my from wanting to pull my hair out without giving all that much away. And the end? Rough. I need book 3 right this second:)

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  10. I can't remember the last time you gave a 5 star rating, Jenny, so that in itself speaks volumes about this sequel. To say I am looking forward to it is an understatement. It's out so soon now and I can't wait. :)

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    1. It's a rare occurrence for sure. I can't remember the last 5 I gave either, I need to look it up! Hope you love it Sam!

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  11. Five stars! Ad it is better than the first! Unnerving....all these things make me want to drop everything and read this now! I can't wait!

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    1. I thought it was better than the first because we learn a few things, and we get deeper into the world and Mara's relationship with Noah and it all just worked perfectly for me:)

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  12. I swear you will get me into this one. I wanna meet Noah! Gah! He sounds perfect for me... uh her... yea, that's right... Anyhoo... you know you have got me wanting to read this series now.

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    1. YES! READ IT! I'm more than a little in love with Noah. He's in my harem. Step off. ;-)

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  13. I'm skimming this review as I haven't even read book 1 yet but...I must get on that ASAP! Thanks Jenny!

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    1. Yes, you must! It's such a different series, and I really like that about it:)

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  14. Yay! I can't WAIT to read this! I have been debating whether to preorder or to rush out and get it once its released. I just want it the fastest way possible!
    I'm a little worried about a more reserved Noah in the first half but I'm happy he's his normal self in the second half. So happy to hear it didn't disappoint.

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    1. I say wait and get it in the bookstore, sometimes preorders are delayed and that's just unacceptable. You need Noah immediately.

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  15. Wonderful review, Jenny! I didn't finish Unbecoming, but I really want to get back to it since this sequel seems to be FANTASTIC! I love the covers and with all the hype it's generating, I want to be caught up with it too, so hopefully I can read it again! Your review has definitely gotten me pumped for this one, so thank you, dear! :)

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    1. I just love this world. It's dark and complex and unnerving and I want to ask questions every single page. I can't wait until we get even more answers in the next book:)

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  16. I still have to read The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer, but I've heard such great things about both books :) Great review!

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    1. I hope you make time for it, I think it's a brilliant series:)

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  17. A 5/5?! And it's for a sequel! Sigh, I need to read faster or get better organized so that I can read The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer.

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    1. I know. I have trouble finding fault with this series because it just sucks me in and I have to know what's going on. Love it.

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  18. Oh, I really need to jump on the Mara Dyer bandwagon and read this! The covers are gorgeous and how you described it as mysterious, deeply romantic and twisted is so intriguing, Jenny! Your review is divine, my dear. :)

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    1. YES LEANNE! This bandwagon is one you want to be on! We're all friendly here:) Hope you find time to pick it up!

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  19. I never liked not knowing if Mara was crazy or not in the first book. I don't like that her narration is untrustworthy, it makes me nervous throughout. I did enjoy the first book overall but I wasn't a huge fan. I might wait to pick up this one until the last one is out too. Wonderful review and your 5 stars is making me question my choice. :)

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  20. !!!!

    HIGH PRAISE!! This has me so excited. Though I find it a little bit hard to believe that this one raises the bar higher than the first - how could it with the first one already being so awesome and trippy and mind-blowing?! Well, I can't wait to find out for myself. I'm so glad that it sounds like this one is going to leave me reeling just like the first one did (that was my favourite part!). REALLY excellent review, Jenny!!

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  21. Oh, Jenny, why do you do this?! Now I want to read this book ASAP ad considering how much I hated Unbecoming, I wasn't planning on reading this one. BUT if Noah is different in this one than he was in the last one, I might just give it a chance! Wondeful review Jenny!

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  22. YAY! So glad you loved this book. When I was reading his, I was like,"Hold up! What just happened!" So many exciting and new developments has my mind reeling. Nice review Jenny!

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  23. Oh, oh! I stopped at Noah being a pillar of strength and awesomeness because I didn't want to read too far...since I'm only part-way through it. But, yes, Noah. *drools*

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  24. WOW! A 5 STAR REVIEW? I really need to get my hands on book #1

    Krazyyme @ Young Readers

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  25. I've just finished reading this book & I think I had higher expectations. (A bit due to your sparkling review. Lol)
    There were so many unanswered questions even as the book ends. So many loose ends! The WHY is so huge that I was dissatisfied with the book; to my utter shock.
    But I began to love Noah, so there, one good thing to come out of Evolution!

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