Blythe's Reviews > The Evolution of Mara Dyer

The Evolution of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin
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Have you ever seen the movie The Strangers? If so, do you remember that one scene where the woman was in the foreground of her house, panicking, and in the background you see one of the white-masked strangers inside her house, watching her? Such a simple and subtle scene, that was. There was no music, no big bang to draw your attention to the stranger - nothing. Just complete and utter silence, aside from the sound of the woman taking short, panicked breaths. The subtlety of that one particular scene, and the fact that if I weren't expecting a big bang as per usual in horror movies and looking in the background for the big shocker, I would have probably missed the stranger standing there, watching her, made that scene more terrifying to me than it would have been if there had been the big bang and the loud music drawing my attention to the background.

My whole point for describing that one particular scene in this review was to make a point that for me, subtlety in horror is more scary and effective than anything else. At times, when watching horror movies, in your face scenes with incredibly loud music do entertain me, and, at times, scare me (most notably in the movie Insidious), but usually, for a scene to linger with me and make me lose sleep, the scene has to be subtle - so subtle that I could miss it. Just like that scene in The Strangers.

And that is where I feel The Evolution of Mara Dyer took one large misstep concerning its creepy elements. There are, of course, other faults in the novel, such as the fact that I found it to be way too long drawn out in the second half and that it ends in yet another cop-out of a cliffhanger to stretch out the series when everything could have easily been resolved in this book, but I think the 'in-your-face' creepy scenes may have been the most prominent and effective detraction to my enjoyment in The Evolution of Mara Dyer. In my pre-review, I wrote that the creepy scenes in this book were like someone was banging pots and pans while screaming at me to look at something - with no subtlety whatsoever. (I'll attach my pre-review below this review, for those who are curious to read it.)

Clearly Hodkin's intention with these scenes were to freak readers out and to have them lose sleep, and it probably will freak many readers out as some of the scenes are genuinely creepy. There were times when reading this that I was a bit freaked out, but the scene(s) that freaked me out won't linger, and that's really what I'm looking for in horror - for scenes to linger with me. Of course, this is a personal issue for me with this book, and if subtlety - or lack thereof - in scenes intended to be creepy don't make a difference to you, then this will not be a problem for you. However, if you are the type of reader and movie-watcher that I am, where subtlety actually matters then I'd look elsewhere for your ideal Halloween read.

That isn't to say you should skip reading this entirely, though, because I'd definitely recommend it to quite a few people. If you, like me, were in love with the plot of The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer but were less than enthused by romance completely overthrowing the plot, you will be relieved to know that The Evolution of Mara Dyer is much more plot-focused and less romantically involved than its predecessor. While I did think that there may have been too much plot, to the point where things got completely out of control and crazy, I found it to be entertaining nonetheless. Unfortunately, there are also a few negative similarities between Evolution and Unbecoming, such as the fact that both are way too long drawn out to the point of frustration, having the reader (ie: me) wondering when the book will come to an end, and more importantly hoping it will finally come to an end.

And while I did thoroughly enjoy - maybe even love - the first half of The Evolution of Mara Dyer, I found that it lost its way in the second half, leading up to a disappointing finale ending with, you guessed it, another huge cliffhanger. But this time, unlike the first, I don't have much hope for the Mara Dyer series anymore. The cliffhanger at the end of The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer left me with a feeling hope that the series would eventually become awesome over time, and more importantly it made me care for what would happen next. But the difference this time is that I don't care, and I think that is the biggest thing I can say about my enjoyment in this series thus far: that I just don't care anymore.


I probably won't be reviewing this, because I've already tried and it frustrated the hell out of me, but what you need to know was that this book, like its review which remains unwritten, frustrated the living hell out of me. I enjoyed the ride throughout the first half, finding it to be creepy and mysterious, but as I hit the fifty percent mark I found myself soon bored by the cliche happenings that were just trying too hard. For things to be creepy to me, they must be subtle, and not "WHOA - LOOK OVER THERE! SOMETHING CREEPY'S HAPPENING! NO, SERIOUSLY, LOOK OVER THERE. YOU'RE GOING TO MISS THIS. GOD DAMMIT LOOK OVER THERE SOMETHING'S HAPPENING! *bangs pots and pans* LOOOOOOOK!". And that, my friends, is what The Evolution of Mara Dyer's creepy elements felt like to me. They were trying too hard to get my attention and to freak me out, and I think it goes without saying that it did not. Some of the happenings were interesting, but there were just so many of them that each time something new happened I found myself rolling my eyes. And, similarly to its predecessor, The Evolution of Mara Dyer overstayed its welcome, which is probably the main reason I was so frustrated by it. The first half was fun to read, but the second half, to me, was so boring and repetitive and never-ending that I found myself skimming pages. And all of the "creepy" happenings led up to an incredibly anticlimactic finale that, once again, ends in a pretty sizable cliffhanger.

But the thing is, I don't really care anymore. The cliffhanger at the end of The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer had me caring about what would happen next, even if I didn't like the entire novel. The ending of The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer made me have hope that the series would get better and more plot-related. And while I can say that The Evolution of Mara Dyer is an overall stronger companion to Unbecoming, I just can't bring myself to care anymore. I know a lot of my friends will really enjoy this, and some already have, but it frustrated me with its repetitiveness, its overly long drawn out stay, and its shoddy attempt at adding another installment with a cop-out cliffhanger when everything could have been resolved in this book, or even the first. But the difference is this time I won't be suckered into reading the next installment.

First half: 4.5 stars
Second half: 2 stars
Final verdict: A very unsure 3 stars (don't go by my rating, go by my review, it's more accurate)

(view spoiler)
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Reading Progress

10/23/2012 ""
14.0% "Ah, Noah. I see you're still a douche.

I'm ready for you." 5 comments
18.0% "This is already worlds better than its predecessor."
32.0% "Someone should really tell Michelle Hodkin that saying 'he unwrapped me with his mouth' isn't exactly the best visual."
32.0% "Our mouths were fluent in the language of each other and we moved with one mind and shared the same breath.

That is quite possibly the corniest description of a kiss I've ever read. Please, no more kissing." 11 comments
86.0% "When will this book end?" 5 comments
100.0% "*sigh* I have to say, while I did enjoy this, I am happy that this is over. That was way too long drawn out."

Comments (showing 1-17 of 17) (17 new)

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message 1: by Zoë (new)

Zoë but you didn't like the first book it seemed?

Blythe I liked it a little, but not too much. But the way the first book ended, I reeeeally want to read this book.

message 3: by Zoë (new)

Zoë OH one of those kinds of endings. Maybe I'll have to wait to try book 1 till book 2 is out. It wasn't on my TBR list anytime soon anyway.

Blythe That's what I would do. The ending's a pretty huge cliffhanger.

message 5: by Annie (new) - added it

Annie i just requested it on edelweiss too! fingers crossed :)

Giselle You lie! You will totally read the next one! Just watch!

Blythe Giselle wrote: "You lie! You will totally read the next one! Just watch!"

Maybeeeeee. If I get an ARC then I'll probably read it, but I definitely won't be as excited for it as I was for this.

message 8: by Michael (new)

Michael I liked your comparison to The Stranger scene. Just your description has me creeped out!

You said: but I think the 'in-your-face' creepy scenes may have been the most prominent and effective element to my enjoyment

Maybe you mean "detraction" and not "element"? I almost thought you were saying you enjoyed it, but I can see that is not what you were saying.

Blythe Michael wrote: "I liked your comparison to The Stranger scene. Just your description has me creeped out!

You said: but I think the 'in-your-face' creepy scenes may have been the most prominent and effective elem..."

It's a very creepy scene! I lost sleep because of it for days after watching the movie. And thanks! Just made that correction - I didn't catch that.

message 10: by Tracey (new)

Tracey i didn't even like the first book enough to read this one :(

Blythe Tracey wrote: "i didn't even like the first book enough to read this one :("

I didn't like the first book very much, either, but the cliffhanger made me care quite a lot about what would happen next. This cliffhanger only angered me.

message 12: by Wendy Darling (new)

Wendy Darling Okay, this is an awesome review! I totally relate to the whole subtlety-in-horror thing, although like you, I occasionally like the more in-your-face stuff, too.

I really disliked the first book, but you say this one's creepy? Hm! Call me crazy, but morbid curiosity may compel me to pick it up just to see what's going on. (Even though I know it would frustrate me, hah.) Nothing in the first book seemed to indicate that was the direction this series was headed towards.

Blythe Thanks, Wendy! in-your-face stuff tends to be more effective for me in movies than books.

And it's sort of creepy - more freaky than anything, with weird happenings, birds falling from the sky, dolls, etc. If those sound like things that creep you out, I'd give this a shot. The first half was fun to read, but after the second half it got old and boring. But yeah, this series is definitely heading towards a more plot-focused direction than romance-focused, as evidenced by this book and probably the third. I just don't care enough to continue on in this trilogy, unfortunately.

message 14: by Tori (new) - rated it 5 stars

Tori You really think Noah's not dead? :o

message 15: by Blythe (last edited Aug 11, 2013 05:12PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Blythe Tori wrote: "You really think Noah's not dead? :o"

Absolutely. There is no way he will not be alive by the end of the third book. The whole "killing off the love interest" trope has been done countless times before in YA, and they always end up alive. I have no faith whatsoever that Michelle Hodkin will stray from this awful trope, as she certainly hasn't with the first two novels in this series.

Roxanne Gan Remember the part where Jude asked Mara to raise Claire from the dead? Well, I think that there would be a character introduced in the next installment that actually can resurrect a person. But I'm sure not enthusiastic about reviving Noah...

message 17: by Blythe (last edited Aug 12, 2013 09:39AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Blythe Based on the title of the third book, what I personally believe will happen is that (view spoiler) I pretty sure I won't be reading the third book, though, so I'll have to have a friend tell me what happens.

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