Book Review: The Evolution of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin

13643567The Evolution of Mara Dyer (Mara Dyer #2) by Michelle Hodkin
YA Romance, Suspense, Paranormal
Paperback, 527 pages

**Review may contain some spoilers for The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer (read my full review here).

In this intense sequel, Mara is convinced that Jude – her ex-boyfriend – survived the collapse and is stalking her. Together and with more in common than they could have ever imagined, Mara and Noah investigate Jude’s whereabouts while Mara proceeds as an outpatient for PTSD, hoping to convince her parents and doctors that she does not need residential psychiatric care. But it definitely doesn’t help that Mara’s visions are getting creepier, making her actions seemingly more disturbing to those around her.

That’s right, y’all. I’m back with a review for the sequel to the last book I just reviewed because that’s how good the last one was.

Readers will either be frustrated with Mara for her continual unreliability as a narrator or frustrated for her because no one seems to believe her, with the exception of her loyal and extremely protective and extremely wealthy boyfriend, Noah.

Wealth is always an obviously necessary plot device in romance fiction because without it, the characters aren’t likely to be able to do whatever they want, which is usually everything we could never actually do in real life. I mean, riches definitely add to a male character’s appeal and I am a sucker for powerful, wealthy male protagonists. But I feel like Noah’s endless supply of money actually takes away from his effectiveness as a character. If he’s in a tight spot and if Mara’s in a tight spot, it’s all too clear that Noah will find a way because he has money to take care of all of their problems. Readers learn from the previous book that Noah, too, is gifted (or cursed) with some strange abilities and while I definitely think he still tries to use them to his advantage at times, it’s way easier to depend on money first. I fear that Noah is becoming too much of a crutch to Mara because of his wealth and influence, rather than as an ally because of their paranormal uniqueness. (Regardless, I’m irrevocably in love with him…so, whatever).

I do appreciate that Mara will sometimes express guilt for always depending on Noah, which saves her from being a complete damsel in distress. She also has a strong will to both protect her family from herself and her troubles, while also wanting to prove herself sane and clear her name.

Introduced in this installment are a few interstitial chapters which are most likely told from the point of view of Mara’s maternal grandmother who also suffered from some mental health issues. These chapters which occur in the past in India serve as memories through Mara and seem to provide insight into whether or not Mara’s abilities are hereditary, which would contradict Noah’s belief that their abilities are acquired randomly.

I generally tire of books that center on characters becoming institutionalized. There’s something about the idea of the reliability and effectiveness of mental health institutions and professionals being manipulated and played around with in fiction that sort of scares me. But I knew where this story was headed and I am still as hooked as I was during book 1.

The paranormal aspects of this book are expanding way beyond just Mara and Noah which is fascinating but also kind of disappointing because I was really into the whole “you and me against everyone else” theme. It’s now becoming “you and me…and oh yeah this guy…oh wait, her too.” Is everyone going to have some sort of creepy ability now? I sure hope not.

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Verdict: The Evolution… is definitely as much a page-turner as its predecessor with some serious twists that will give you whiplash. Questions from the first book seem to be answered with even more questions, ensuring the author that readers will be begging for the third book (including me, for sure). If book 1 didn’t teach you already: trust no one!

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