The Evolution of Mara Dyer on 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?

Spoiler-free review

"The Evolution of Mara Dyer" will make you write your review twice. The first time, your thoughts will be so scattered and there will be so many exclamation points and caps that it'll appear entirely illegible to anyone who might come across it. Then you'll take a deep breath, go through the five stages of grief and rewrite it.

Anyone? No? Then maybe it's just me.

Michelle Hodkin didn't disappoint. The Evolution of Mara Dyer is everything its predecessor was and everything we've come to expect. Dark. Twisted. Thrilling. Heart-wrenching. Terrifying. Convoluted. And most of all - gripping. (For as much as the word makes me shudder, yes, it was, in fact, unputdownable.)

Mara is plunged deeper into the labyrinth that is her own mind. The boundaries between reality and hallucination are still unclear. The instability that comes with knowing her own ability is still present. Only now, there is one thing Mara is certain of: there is a real, corporeal threat out there. And it's coming for her. And the only person who believes her is Noah.

It takes a special sort of ability to walk the line between revealing nothing at all and revealing too much ahead of time. And Michelle Hodkin walks this line like she's been doing it her whole life. As the many questions raised in "The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer" are slowly answered, so are the new questions raised. From "how", Mara begins to ask herself "why", and the reader is right there with her every step of the way, wondering but not knowing; fearing, but not understanding.

Now that Jude poses a real, tangible threat, Mara's paranoia expands. Her fear is no longer turned inward alone. The fear of herself and her own abilities grows to include the outside threat as well. And all this while juggling two daily reminders of the little control she has over her life: the mandatory outpatient program, and the non-existent trust of her parents.

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

Apart from fear, terror and other appropriate synonyms worthy of Stephen King himself, the one emotion I got out of this book was anger, fueled by a sense of unfairness. Mara's life is endlessly unfair, in this book more so than the last. The little faith put in her made it very difficult for her to protect everyone, hard as she tried.

And then there was the balance: the Mara/Noah duality. Believer versus skeptic. Nature versus nurture. Genetic memory versus genetic mutation. Destroyer versus healer.

Just as in the first book, the relationship was expertly woven into the plot. Mara demonizes and Noah makes light of situations. Mara fears and Noah protects. Mara spirals and Noah keeps her from spiraling too far.

The psychological aspect of the book is expertly researched. (I'm still convinced Michelle was a mental health professional in her previous life.) Every frustration that Mara was feeling was entirely well-justified. From her mother's rattling off any even remotely pertinent diagnoses every time Mara showed a hint of distress to the detached cheeriness of the staff at the outpatient (as well as the inpatient) clinic. She is being neatly boxed into categories for symptoms she doesn't have, and her word is not only mistrusted, but completely ignored. In more than one ways, this book is a kind of cautionary tale for how not to treat people. The messages are all too clear. Listen more closely, if nothing than to be an understanding ear. And trust rather than condemn. Feel before you analyze. The benefit of the doubt can make a difference between sanity and insanity. And my favorite quote of the book says as much:

The last passage made it all too clear why the final book is titled "The Retribution of Mara Dyer". And god, how I hope this retribution will be deadly for so many people involved. (Does that make me crazy? I'm okay with that. After all...

"Everyone's a little crazy. The only difference between us and them is that they hide it better."