Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Review: The Evolution of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin

The Evolution of Mara Dyer (Mara Dyer #2)
by Michelle Hodkin
Release Date: October 23rd, 2012)
2013 Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Hardcover Edition; 527 Pages
ISBN: 978-1-4424-2179-0
Genre: Fiction / Young Adult
Source: Review copy from publisher

3.5 / 5 Stars

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.

My Thoughts
The Evolution of Mara Dyer is a good follow-up to The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer and I did enjoy it and thought it was a fun read.  That being said however, there were parts that I thought were unnecessary, or rather repetitive, and I think I am one of the few people who is not a huge fan of Noah and his sexy, bad-boy, tormented-boy image.  In fact, his change of personality from the first book to this one was a bit off-putting as it felt like the author was trying to make changes to her characters in terms of fan feedback.

The creepy atmosphere of the first book was present in this one and it is something that I enjoyed quite a bit.  The sense of alienation, and the mix of fantasy and reality, gave the novel that out-worldly sense that 'all was not right with the world' feeling, and I liked the mood the author set quite early on in the novel.  Waking up in a mental institution set the tone right from the start, and you get the feeling the author is trying to make the reader unsure whether Mara's experiences are real of fantastical.  Unfortunately, I don't think it quite worked, and while I felt sorry for Mara during her experiences, the only time I really felt a connection to her was when she was trying to deal with her parents or her brothers, trying to make them understand that what was happening to her wasn't PTSD, but something else entirely.  And while I got that they were somewhat skeptical, I kept thinking that Mara's mother is a psychologist and aren't psychologists supposed to LISTEN, which is something that Mara's mother was lacking.  I understand she was upset, and probably not thinking objectively, but she is a trained psychologist.  

I did like the story, and thought the plot was interesting, but to be honest, I did find it somewhat repetitive.  I understood what the author was trying to achieve, but I think in her quest to make the reader question and be misled, the novel got a little convoluted for its purposes (not that I don't like a convoluted novel, as I do), and despite the twists and turns, the events sometimes seemed liked they happened over and over again (kind of like this sentence!!).  As for Noah, I probably should not even start.  Contrary to popular opinion, he was not one of my favourite characters.  Couldn't Mara even think for herself without calling Noah every twenty minutes or so?  And I don't find the 'damsel-in-distress and the hero saves the day' scenario that appealing.  Which is exactly how Noah was portrayed; even going so far as having a bit of a fit because he wasn't there to save her on every occasion.  Really?  I'm still unsure as to how I feel about his personality change from the first book to this one where he was more the 'bad-boy' figure to this more gentle, understanding type of character; it didn't quite ring true to me.  Don't get me wrong though, I didn't dislike Noah, but I do like a stronger female character who doesn't depend on her boyfriend for solving all of her problems, and I felt like the secrecy element was pushed too far.  Jamie and Daniel however, are a whole different story.  Can we please see more of them in book three?  Loved those characters, and would definitely like to see them more involved.  And can Mara at least have one female friend?  Now Jude I liked, for his sadistic tendencies, and his creepy behaviour, and I am dying to know more about his story.  

The Evolution of Mara Dyer is one of those novels that I felt didn't quite live up to the hype that it was given, but it certainly did have a lot of promise.  I felt like the author tried too hard to create a story that was complex and convoluted, to the point where it kind of got away from her, and real tidbits of information were not fed to the reader leading to frustration and disappointment.  We're going into book three without really knowing what we are dealing with, and only a little bit of background story.  I did like the setting and thought the creepiness matched the emotions in the story, and felt the author did a credible job trying to make Mara neurotic, yet sympathetic at the same time. I didn't like it as much as the first novel in this series, but still enjoyed it.  I am looking forward to the third novel, The Retribution of Mara Dyer, to be released November 4th, and hope that my many questions will finally be answered.