Lovin' los libros

A book blog dedicated to young adult and new adult novels

Reviews: The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer and The Evolution of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin

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The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer (Mara Dyer #1)
       by: Michelle Hodkin

Publication Date: Sept. 27, 2011
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Genre: Paranormal
Age Group: Young Adult
Source: Purchased
Page Count: 456 pages
Order Links: Amazon | B&N
My Rating: 4/5 stars

Mara Dyer believes life can't get any stranger than waking up in a hospital with no memory of how she got there.
It can.

She believes there must be more to the accident she can't remember that killed her friends and left her strangely unharmed.
There is.

She doesn't believe that after everything she's been through, she can fall in love.
She's wrong.

I am seriously at a loss as to how to even begin this review. My mind is kind of blown. Or effed up. Maybe a bit of both after reading this one. Even upon finishing the book, I still don't know what is going on with Mara. Is she crazy? Is it all a dream? Is she a supernatural being? Is she even real? I loved not knowing though. My brain was in a constant state of 'WTF is going on' and it was awesome.
The book opens with an extremely intriguing note from Mara herself telling us she is not Mara Dyer, but that she was required to choose something and that she is writing to let us know that she has done things that can never be undone.
"No one would know that a seventeen-year-old who likes Death Cab for Cutie was responsible for the murders. No one would know that somewhere out there is a B student with a body count."
I really liked that Hodkin makes us readers feel as though we are right there with Mara. We only know what Mara does, so there's not this disconnect between readers and characters. As Mara retains bit and pieces of her memory, so do we. This really helps us empathize for her, as it must have been terrifying to be in a tragic accident and not remember it or the events leading up to it. Diagnosed with PTSD, Mara suffers from nightmares and hallucinations, her mind not able to cope with the stress of the events that transpired. Not being able to deal with living in the same way, Mara begs her family to move so she can escape the constant reminders of what she lost. However, Mara can move as far away as she wants- the physical reminders might not be there, but she can never escape from her own mind....
It is here in Miami that Mara meets Noah Shaw. Oh, Noah. He has the whole tortured, gorgeous bad boy thing going on and also has quite the reputation at school. Mara has been warned away from him, as he is nothing but trouble and will only use her to get what he wants. Naturally, there's more to Noah than the rumors, but I was a bit wary of him to start. His disappearing act made me wonder what really going on with him and if he was there to help Mara.
I felt for Mara. I love the cover because it is such an accurate depiction of what's happening to her. I feel like she is barely able to keep her head above water. She has so many things going on- she is trying to lead as normal of a life as she can what with the tragedy looming in her past, she is trying to set her family's worries at ease and convince them she's getting better when really she is unraveling bit by bit. Amidst all that, she is starting to remember what happened the night of the accident and she is starting to wonder if that's what it was: an accident. In the cover we see Noah with his arms around her, serving as her anchor to keep her above water. The same holds true in the book. Once she confides in him as to what's happening to her, and his own secrets are revealed, the two need one another to figure out what the heck is going on.
I am all for a slow burn romance, but I felt there wasn't enough to make me love it like I wanted to. It is obvious Noah cares for Mara and genuinely wants to help her figure out everything that's going on, but it was almost a little too slow paced for me.
The ending definitely got my mind churning- is Mara going to give in to the darkness that is slowly consuming her or will she fight tooth and nail to keep from losing herself to a place she won't be able to come back from? I have to give Hodkin props- this book is definitely one that will keep you guessing and I love the psychological element to it.

The Evolution of Mara Dyer (Mara Dyer #2)
     by: Michelle Hodkin

Publication Date: Feb. 28, 2013
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Genre: Paranormal
Age Group: Young Adult
Source: Borrowed from library
Page Count: 544 pages
Order Links: Amazon | B&N
My Rating: 4/5 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!

So... remember how I said the last book blew my mind... and messed it up a bit? Psh. That was NOTHING compared to this one. And the creepiness factor? I couldn't read this one at night because I was so freaking creeped out!
Mara has landed herself in quite the pickle, especially after the events that ended the first book. With no one to believe her but Noah, she now has to fight the system (and her parents!) to prove her stability... when she's anything but. Her hallucinations are taking on a whole new level, and she's losing time by having really strange blackouts... where she's not even herself anymore. I am very curious to see what the significance of those blackouts are in the last novel and how they are relate to the big picture.
Mara's family plays another key role in this book, for which I am grateful. I feel bad for her parents because they are at a loss as to what to do. They love their daughter and don't want to lose her to the madness of her mind, so they do what any loving parents would: seek out help. It's funny how when you're in Mara's mind, it's so easy to become paranoid and suspicious of EVERYTHING. That is exactly what I found myself doing. I don't think there was anyone I fully trusted (except Jamie) the entire time. Even Noah made me stop and wonder, as he would close himself off from her. The way she described his shuttered expressions really got me thinking: what is he not telling her?
Hodkin did up Noah and Mara's relationship in this one: we get more tension and frustration on their part, as Noah wants Mara to be 100% unafraid when she's intimate with him. So, there's not a whole lot of kissing going on, especially with Mara paranoid that she's going to suck the life out of him.
"You will love him to ruins..."
We meet some new characters in the outpatient treatment center that really become important later on in the book. I loved that Jamie was back because his friendship is so important to Mara. She may not have confided in him, but he is the comedic relief she needs in her life- that shred of normality she desperately craves. Phoebe on the other hand? I knew right away something was up with her. Not only is she extra creepy, but she is crazy with a capital C. I can't blame Mara for wanting to keep her distance!
We do find out more of what's going on in this book. What's up with Mara is still a bit of mystery, but at least the puzzle pieces are starting to come together. I had my suspicions early on in the book, because there was a scene in particular that threw up warning flags in my brain and it turns out it was for a good reason.
Can I just say... for all of you who read this book when it first came out? You have the patience of ALL the saints to wait for the last book! I think I would have died with that ending if I knew Retribution wasn't also in my possession.

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  1. I am so glad you love these! I am dying for a chance to reread them - and binge when I do!

    Is there is where I get credit for warning you do have Retribution on hand for when you finished Evolution? :D

    Andrea @ Bookish

  2. It makes me so happy that you enjoyed these books! Isn't the end to Evolution cruel and unusual punishment! And then it was FOREVER. Funny thing though, now that I have Retribution I am terrified of finishing the series. I just don't think I'm ready. I keep reading a little at a time and then I have to put it aside lol. One of these days haha. Great reviews!

  3. Yeah okay, between Sheri's GR updates and your reviews, I clearly need to read these asap!!!!! Message received *salutes*

  4. I'm so glad you enjoyed Mara Dyer! ( I still need to read the second book) Hodkin really is a wonderful writer, as you said she really made you feel as if you were right there with Mara. I really need to get back into this series (finish it) because it really is a good series!

    Lovely reviews!

  5. Lovely reviews, Jess! I remember being so confused after reading the first one, not knowing what the hell I read, but then I love that the author did such a great job making us feel everything Mara felt. She really get's Mara's thoughts/voice perfectly.
    The romance could be frustrating at times, because I didn't know how to read Noah, but it eventually won me over. :P

  6. We sort of had the same feelings about what the heck was going on. My biggest guesses were that it was all just a really messed up dream OR I was even thinking that maybe Noah was just a hallucination. Though I really wasn't confident in that one because her whole family interacted with him. I'm with you though. I loved the not knowing and all the mystery!!! Ahh! Anyway, love your reviews AND loved that discussion we had after you finished! So much fun :D

  7. I am glad to see you loved these! I actually thought that she was CRAZY and making everything up in her head for majority of book 1 LOL I need to reread I think before finishing the series!

  8. I really need to start this series! I want to see what is so crazy about it! I didn't read your review for the 2nd book since I haven't read the first book yet but I hope to get to it soon!! Then I'll def discuss with you!


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