Wrap up – Mara Dyer Trilogy by Michelle Hodkin

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I read this collection spread out over just under four years! I think because the middle book disappointed me after the stellar impression from the debut, I was reluctant to pick up ‘The Retribution of Mara Dyer’ for a while after its release.

And a friendly warning: this is a wrap-up, so it discusses many elements with the plot, so avoid reading if you don’t like *spoilers!*

I was blow away with the debut. Hodkin’s writing is eloquent and haunting and I loved the analytical introspection of the protagonist. Plus the paranormal mystery storyline mixed in with a bit of thriller kept me engaged. A rich tapestry of characters that you don’t get a lot of in YA had me singing its praises to anyone who’d listen. And then the sequel “The Evolution of Mara Dyer’ put a big spanner in the works. The narrative moved away from the paranormal mystery/thriller, to that of a contemporary dealing with mental illness. We still get all the supernatural elements, but find ourselves embroiled in something that floundered about. Mara was not sure of anything –and as a result, I had no clue where the story was going. The pacing slowed right down because we were dealing circle shares and lengthy introductions to new cast members in the Sanatorium. I missed the tone of the debut and consequently was not too eager to pick of ‘The Retribution of Mara Dyer’ when it was released.

After reading many rave reviews for the conclusion for this trilogy, I finally got around to reading it and my faith was just about fully restored. Though the genre was approaching more sci-fi than paranormal. Experiments for developing abilities – and mental illness the cost of acquiring such abilities is a fantastic concept. I was a touch underwhelmed about this explanation. The hint of past lives and ghosts from the first novel is what had interested me in this series initially.

This series is the first that I have read in YA with a darker tone to it, and I really can’t hype Hodkin’s writing enough. She is a sheer genius with her turn of phrase. What started out as feeling like a paranormal thriller, morphed into a gothic romance. So it was a bit of a rocky road with this trilogy, but definitely gets two thumbs up from me.

Of course we can continue in this universe with the latest releases of The Shaw Confessions, of which I am keen to collect and read. ‘The Becoming of Noah Shaw,’ ‘The Reckoning of Noah Shaw,’ and a third yet untitled volume to be published in 2019. Let’s hope it continues with the timeline and does not suffer the middle book slump.

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For individual reviews click on the links below:

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer’https://strokingfire.wordpress.com/2014/08/26/book-review-the-unbecoming-of-mara-dyer/

The Evolution of Mara Dyer’ https://strokingfire.wordpress.com/2014/10/08/book-review-the-evolution-of-mara-dyer/

The Retribution of Mara Dyer’ – https://strokingfire.wordpress.com/2017/07/19/book-review-the-retribution-of-mara-dyer-by-michelle-hodkin/

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© Casey Carlisle 2018. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Book Review – ‘The Retribution of Mara Dyer’ by Michelle Hodkin

Haunting.

The Retribution of Mara Dyer Book Review Pic 01 by Casey CarlisleGenre: YA, Paranormal,

No. of pages: 470

From Goodreads:

Mara Dyer wants to believe there’s more to the lies she’s been told.

There is.

She doesn’t stop to think about where her quest for the truth might lead.

She should.

She never had to imagine how far she would go for vengeance.

She will now.

Loyalties are betrayed, guilt and innocence tangle, and fate and chance collide in this shocking conclusion to Mara Dyer’s story.

Retribution has arrived.

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After a very long spate of novels where after the first 100 pages or so, I was still struggling to get into the book. ‘The Retribution of Mara Dyer’ broke that slump. It jumps right into the action and had me trying to puzzle things out, gripping me with every page. I had put off reading this last book of the trilogy for so long because of the difficulty I had getting into ‘The Evolution of Mara Dyer,’ but we get answers very quickly, and it puts the all the series of events up this this point into a new perspective straight away. Someone should had slapped me upside the head earlier on and forced me to get into this final book sooner…

With such a dark, captivating and complex tone, I was truly enraptured.

Our protagonist Mara is definitely a troubled teen – the way she handles the darkness, the things she does left me uneasy. It was compelling reading, but I don’t fully understand how the people around her can dismiss the gravity of what she has done (and what she is capable of) so easily. It’s the one issue I have with this book – zero repercussions for crime, murder and violence. All aspects of the mystery surrounding Mara Dyer are solved. And she is no longer the victim as I thought of her in book one, but an anti-hero. I really enjoyed her journey, but also found it disturbing.

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Noah as lovely as he is, as gorgeous as the love between Mara and him is, is whipped. The romantic in me finds it endearing. But the realistic side of me wonders if he’s not being stupid… but that’s the thing with love isn’t it? It makes you do silly things. To have the gorgeous relationship blossoming between these two characters amongst so much tragedy is juxtaposing. A gothic romance.

At times the narrative felt a little long winded, but it did not detract from the excitement of the story. I was constantly wondering how the hell they were going to get out of the mess they were in. My mind was doing a lot of scrambling to work out what was going on. So any of my predictions flew out the window very early on.

With a great writing style, it comes off as lyrical and full of shadows. But also manages to give answers and real technical information to tie up the trilogy without spoiling the mystical feel of the novel. It was a brilliant end to the series. May I say cute even. Which is weird given the dark aspects to the story.

Highly recommend this trilogy, though I did struggle with the middle book. Recently hearing that The Shaw Confessions is getting added to this universe, with ‘The Becoming of Noah Shaw’ due for release on November 7th this year, I’m getting really excited. I may be making little squeaky noises, and jumping up and down…

Overall feeling: Blew me away, like a pile of ash.

The Retribution of Mara Dyer Book Review Pic 02 by Casey Carlisle

The Retribution of Mara Dyer Book Review Pic 03 by Casey Carlisle

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© Casey Carlisle 2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Film vs Novel – A Walk to Remember

Shades of bullying and ostracism are outshined by love, faith and identity.

 Film vs Novel A Walk to Remember by Casey Carlisle Pic 01

A Walk to Remember Pic 06 by Casey CarlilseWhile I loved the story of A Walk to Remember, and found it truly touching, my experience with the book was somewhat lacking in comparison to my enjoyment of the film.

I felt the tone of the book it was a little too preachy and Landon’s final decision felt like it was motivated more out of duty than love. Where as in the film, each character was developed so much better. Nuisances and extra parts to the modernized storyline had it feeling much more realistic. The religious aspect had been dialled down, which really let the romance shine. Additionally, I appreciated in the movie how they allowed Jamie to enjoy the climax of the story a little before the ending, it really let the emotion resonate with the viewer – where in the novel the story simply stopped.

I adore Nicholas Spark’s stories, however his narrative style does not match the subject matter. I refer to the writing of Beautiful Creatures or Mara Dyer, where the language is practically melodic. Spark’s felt dry in comparison, and the repetition of the phrases ‘by the way’ and ‘hits you right between the eyes’ ended up giving me a headache.

The movie explored Landon and Jamie’s story so much more. There wasn’t such a clichéd ending either. Where I completely broke down in tears in the film, the book barely had me emoting. I remember when first reading A Walk to Remember over fifteen years ago I couldn’t think of a better piece of literature, but today having a more experienced pallet, it did not stand up to my raves. It may sound like I don’t like the book, when in fact I did – a great light read for an afternoon… I just wish it packed the punch that the movie did.

A Walk to Remember Pic 04 by Casey Carlilse

The title is tied in brilliantly within the novel, and there is a completely different interpretation for the film. Additionally, our main characters Landon and Jamie are different versions. Where Landon is more of an everyday guy in the novel, his screen counterpart (played by Shane West) is a smart-ass rebel. The latter serviced the character arc with much more dramatic flair. Jamie on the other hand was a goody-two-shoes that could do no wrong, that everybody loved for the book, yet in the film Mandy Moor played her as an understated, quite soul with an unwavering heart and unconditional kindness. Again the latter felt more realistic and fragile and was easier to identify with.

I feel like the Landon of the film was driven by his feelings to do more for Jamie – like checking off her bucket list, not afraid of rolling up his sleeves and doing some hard work to get there. In the book that impact was lost – there was maybe a couple of grand gestures leaving the story feeling rushed.

The bullying and teasing dealt with in the book was minor in comparison to that of the movie. Landon really struggles with it in the film, and lashes out, where the reaction in the book felt a little over dramatized. So too, did the reactions to Jamie’s news on the printed page… I much prefer the reveal in the film.

I’d recommend either, the book is soulful and touching; but the film crawls under your skin to squeeze your heart…

So a resounding win for the movie in my opinion!

A Walk to Remember Pic 03 by Casey Carlilse

Critique Casey by Casey Carlisle

© Casey Carlisle 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Book Review – The Evolution of Mara Dyer

the evolution of mara dyerFrom 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.

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After falling in love with the first in the series, ‘The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer’ I could not wait to jump into this novel. Michelle Hodkin has such a melodic turn of phrase, interwoven with sharp satire. Half the time I’m marveling at her writing, and the other half at the story.

I expected this sequel to surpass the debut novel, however, the first ten chapters dragged a little for me, until the pace began to quicken to stop me from frequent lapses in reading. This really surprised me – I found it a little longwinded in sections and was constantly finding my attention turn to the laundry, or washing the dishes. After the halfway mark though, I completed it in a day. I’m putting my distraction down to Mara’s drawn out experiences in the psychiatric facility, (don’t worry this is not a spoiler) there was too much internal monologue and not enough action.

There is still the mystery that continues throughout – some parts are solved, some aren’t. And I am still eager to read the third installment. The retribution of Mara Dyer.’

The Evolution of Mara Dyer Book Review Pic 1 by Casey CarlisleI could not predict the course of Mara’s journey, Michelle manages to keep enough out of sight that you don’t know what the hell is going on until it is upon you.

For me, Mara felt a bit too whiny in this edition, and Noah, a little too polished at times – I loved that quote about him being beautifully broken, and wanted my adorably damaged Noah back.

Where some of the characters from the first novel took a back seat and a plethora of new characters were introduced, I didn’t connect as easily with the new cast.

I also felt the protagonist was given too much power – and that’s all I’m going to say to avoid spoiler territory. Who knows, maybe things will be uncovered it the following novel to lend credible explanation.

Overall, this novel was still an enchanting read, filled with dark mystery. Departing from the realism present in ‘The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer’ added to the frustration with many questions by the end of the book…

The Evolution of Mara Dyer Book Review Pic 2  by Casey Carlisle

   Critique Casey by Casey Carlisle

© Casey Carlisle 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Once more with feeling…

Afflicted with writers’ brain…. more commonly known as an overactive imagination.

Once More With Feeling by Casey Carlisle

Like the Emmy Award winning episode of ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ giving the musical treatment to a genre that you don’t typically associate bursting out in song with – amongst beheading demons and avoiding the pointy end of wooden stakes. I was wondering what some of my favourite books would be like if re-vamped with show tunes.

Once More With Feeling by Casey Carlisle

Twilight, The Mortal Instruments, The Hunger Games, Divergent, even some of the contemporaries; The Fault in Our Stars,  Flat Out Love, Mara Dyer, and well, Will Grayson sort of already was… there are so many scenes where bursting out into song would appear camp, or just wrong. I was chortling to myself while in the waiting room to visit the dentist.

Trying to avoid the stares from others seating nearby at my spontaneous outbursts of laughter I couldn’t help picturing other real life situations, like say your at the Gynaecologists and the doctor breaks into song…

 

images (2)It pains me to say

I wish my news was nice

        But in fact my dear…

You have an infestation of pubic lice!images (2)

 

Or even better you are out walking your dog and he decides to take a crap… and a duet ensues!

images (2)I need to poo

This is so embarrassing

        Look at me poo

        Here comes a cute boy jogging

        ….. poo ….

        Not so entertaining

        Morbid and disgusting

        Vulnerable and compromising

         I really should get moving

        But my dogs’ bowls are evacuating

         Thoroughly disturbing

        Do something distracting

        The cute boy is smiling

         It’s squishy and it’s smelling

        There’s no way of telling

         If that boy thinks I’m amusing

        With my dog who is pooping

         Why o why is this happening

        The cute boy is passing

        I FINISHED MY POOOOOOOO!    … Oh, a bee!

        That’s relieving…

images (2)We’re leaving!

 

I could go on and on… I was in that waiting room for an hour – do you know how many situations you can dream up in that time?

Keep laughing, keep writing…

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© Casey Carlisle 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

 

 

 

 

Book Review – The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer Book Review by Casey CarlisleFrom Goodreads:

Mara Dyer believes life can’t get any stranger than waking up in a hospital with no memory of how she got there. It can. 
She believes there must be more to the accident she can’t remember that killed her friends and left her strangely unharmed. There is.
She doesn’t believe that after everything she’s been through, she can fall in love. She’s wrong.

Firstly, the style of Michelle Hodkin was phenomenal. I am so envious of her turn of phase – she is imaginative and eloquent, and this was by far the most outstanding quality. The supernatural, or paranormal theme that plays out in this book is subtle, it doesn’t fall into a fantasy world, which added legitimacy and realism to the narration.

Mara’s internal dialogue is enrapturing; her struggles with overanalysing her surrounds and overlapping visions and flashbacks give it a touch of a psychological thriller. Michelle Hodkin has written a refreshing take within the YA genre that left me wanting more. The story itself is more about an inner journey, as outwardly there is no epic quest, rather a revisitation of past dramas intermingled with a current one.

I normally detest flashbacks – they are so overdone, but this storytelling tool was used in ‘The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer’ to show you facts eluding to what is happening to Mara and let the reader draw their own conclusions.

The character of Mara is easy to relate to, her confusion, fear and a strong feeling of being out of place or lost shines through as she tentatively tries to connect with those around her. I managed to guess what was going on early in the piece, but was surprised with unexpected twists at the end.

source:  Pinterest - Gabriel Briefs

source: Pinterest – Gabriel Briefs

Daniel and Joseph, (Mara’s younger and older siblings) are equal parts adorable and annoying; you really feel a sense of family here and how the band together to deal with their parents. It is the type of dynamic and camaraderie that you see in many families.

Your typical scruffy but gorgeous guy – Noah – makes the perfect match for Mara and I liked his never-say-die attitude from the get-go. He provides the rock that Mara needs to work through her issues. If you like obstinate boys who always grab your attention with witty banter, then you’ll love Noah.

Besides the well rounded characters and amazing writing style I can’t say too much more without posting spoilers, so I’ll end it here. I highly recommend this for your collection, it is a great change of pace from you typical paranormal themed book. For people not overly into this genre, Hodkin’s book would be a good intro.

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© Casey Carlisle 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.