Review: The Evolution of Mara Dyer

The Evolution of Mara Dyer
Michelle Hodkin
Series: Mara Dyer, #2
Release Date: October 23rd, 2012
Publisher: Simon & Schuster 
Number of Pages: 544
Source: Bought
Rating: 3 of 5 stars 

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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?
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 element 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 the 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


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