Saturday, January 19, 2013

Book Review: The Evolution of Mara Dyer

So I may be a little behind on the times, but I still have one semester as a student and working a student job, so I'm too poor to just go out and buy a book right when it comes out (no matter how badly I may want to). However, I finally got this book from the library after a hold that felt like a lifetime.

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer (Book #1 in the Mara Dyer trilogy) managed to paint pictures for me that had me sitting up at night with the light on, no doubt bothering my husband, but I just couldn't stop myself. Her writing was so vivid, and the horror was so unlike most of the horror I had read in the past (which isn't actually that much) that I kept wanting to go back and read it again and see just what she did that made such an impact on me.

However, at first read The Evolution of Mara Dyer (Book #2) just didn't do that to me, and I found myself getting frustrated with it very early on. It was a pretty quick read though, and after the first hundred or two hundred pages, I realized that it was a different kind of horror. It was the kind that made me wonder what in the world is going on? Why won't anyone listen to her? Why is this supposedly dead guy wandering around her house while everyone is sleeping? And why, oh WHY, am I concerned that this guy is secretly watching ME as I'm reading this book???

Once I realized this, I was able to connect with the story a bit more. Hodkin does a great job of making Mara's condition realistic. While I found myself getting frustrated that no one believed her, I think that really was the way most parents would have handled the situation. By the middle of the book though, I felt stagnant, like I was stuck in that asylum doing the same thing over and over and I would never get out and neither would Mara. After awhile I started to not care anymore what happened to Mara, and the only thing worth pondering was why in the world Noah wanted to go hang out on a private island for fifteen minutes before heading back, and why all of these adults seem to play into his hands no matter what he does.

The premise of the book is unique, which was what drew me to it initially. Noah's persistence in trying to keep up with Mara and help her, and Mara's spiral downward until the line between insanity and her gift (or curse) become so blurred that it's impossible to see it, provided character dynamics that I loved. I felt like I knew these people in real life,like they could be real people.

The "cliffhanger" ending seemed very reminiscent of Kelley Armstrong's Summoning trilogy though, which also involved an asylum full of people with unique gifts/curses. However, there were some plot holes that I had a hard time ignoring. At the end, when I stared at the word deceased next to Noah's name, it was all I could notice. But somehow Mara didn't notice it until a page and a half later? And on top of that, an obviously shifty minor character who really doesn't get much face time suddenly pops out of nowhere as the ultimate bad guy. It seemed thrown together in a way that will be difficult for me to remember by the time book 3 comes around.

In the end, I'd give it a 3.5/5 stars because I love the writing style so much. Hodkin proves in this book that she can use various different writing styles to portray different feelings involved in the horror genre. I had to watch an episode of How I Met Your Mother before I went to bed to that I would stop thinking that someone was wandering around my apartment without my knowledge. I am excited for book 3, but hope that the holes from the end of book 2 get filled.

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