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.

Book Review – Hourglass

Hourglass Book Review by Casey CarlisleFrom Goodreads:

One hour to rewrite the past…
For seventeen-year-old Emerson Cole, life is about seeing what isn’t there: swooning Southern Belles; soldiers long forgotten; a haunting jazz trio that vanishes in an instant. Plagued by phantoms since her parents’ death, she just wants to be normal. She’s tried everything, but the visions keep coming back.

So when her well-meaning brother brings in a consultant from a secretive organisation called the Hourglass, Emerson’s willing to try one last cure. But meeting Michael Weaver may not only change her future, it may also change her past.

Who is this dark, mysterious, sympathetic guy, barely older than Emerson herself, who seems to believe every crazy word she says? Why does an electric charge seem to run through the room whenever he’s around? And why is he so insistent that he needs her to help prevent a death that never should’ve happened?

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I was fascinated with Hourglass from the get-go. Unfortunately I didn’t get decent chunks of time to read this in a couple of sittings like I wanted to – moving across country had me consuming sometimes single pages at a time before having to abandon it for more serious real life issues.

 

The premise is great, and with a common thread of things being revealed as not as they first seem, I was surprised and delighted many times throughout this novel. The only predictable aspect to this book was the love story – everything else came at me from left-field.

 

The narration is bang-on, not too old or young in relation to the main character, with just the right amount of naivety and swagger. Emmerson brings a delicate strength as the protagonist amongst a plethora of sporty, balls-to-the-wall types littering YA of recent times.

 

One aspect of Hourglass that did annoy me somewhat, was the typical brooding and angsty love interest of Michael – not that I don’t like these types of male leads (because I love them) – it was the motivation behind his behaviour felt a little weak (upon the reveal… but don’t worry, no spoilers here).

 

Pacing was great. At first I was concerned that there would be many long descriptions of Emmerson’s visions from the first two encounters, but thankfully, they remained brief as the story just kept getting better and better.

 

A sucker for science fiction novels grounded in real theoretical science and physics, Hourglass played with concepts in a way that didn’t feel tired or overdone. But it’s not heavy on the sci-fi part, it’s more like a love story / mystery with science fiction elements.

 

Although not really comparable to titles like The of Unbecoming Mara Dyer by Michele Hodkin and The Host by Stephenie Meyer, the storytelling elements are similar, so if you enjoyed those, I recommend picking up Hourglass.

 

The first in a series, I’m definitely aching to begin the sequel Timepiece!

Hourglass Book Review Pic 1 by Casey Carlisle
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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.

Top Ten Reads for 2014

Top Ten reads of 2014 by Casey Carlisle

Out of all the novels I’ve read (and reviewed) this year, I thought I’d list my top ten and why they tickled my chicken…

 

The Fault in Our Stars Title by Casey Carlisle

 

This book completely destroyed me. I mean messed me up. It was really beautiful… and sad. But I loved it and it is my top pick for this year. The fact I’ve had my own battle with cancer (twice) it really struck a cord within me… but I’m still waiting to meet my Augustus.

 

Anna Dressed in Blood Title by Casey Carlisle

A great mix of horror, dark humor and ghost slaying. With some witty banter and not-so-cookie-cutout characters, I was really impressed. It took me back to my Buffy the Vampire Slayer days. Can’t wait to see what the movie is going to turn out.

 

Cinder Title by Casey Carlisle

A surprising take on the classic fairy tale. Usually this type of book is not one I’d pick up, but given the science fiction twist I was curious. And then fell in love. A cyborg, Moon people, a prince and a robot bestie, what’s not to like?

 

Hyperbole and a Half Title by Casey Carlisle

I squirted tea out of my nose reading this – so fair warning, don’t eat or drink while reading Allie Brosh’s novel, you’ll laugh a lot. And loudly. I definitely got a great ab workout. I was even surprised at how much expression was conveyed in the child-like graphics accompanying her stories. Brilliant.

 

Beautiful Creatures Title by Casey Carlisle

So the movie inspired me to start reading this series, and I was not disappointed. The language itself is worth reading for, even if you aren’t interested in the story. I was in awe at the lyrical tone in the narration. The charm of the South oozes from the page really placing you in the bayou and battlefields.

 

Eleanor and Park Title by Casey Carlisle

This was my childhood – growing up in the 80’s I loved all the pop culture references and the quirks of the characters. The story is unassuming, yet packs a beautiful punch.

 

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Casey Carlisle

Mysterious. I loved how this book built up a story without delivering a punch line. The language is beautiful and builds slowly easily dragging you into Mara’s world.

 

Obsidian by Casey Carlisle

I really loved this. Although I don’t like chauvinistic characters, the love story sizzles on the page. It has elements of Roswell and I Am Number Four. A guilty pleasure that I am looking forward to continuing with the series.

 

Will Grayson, Will Grayson Title by Casey Carlisle

The first book I’d read of Green and Levithan, and enjoy the satire and metaphor embedded in the text. They manage to slowly peel back the layers of their characters to reveal someone completely different by the end. Plenty of witty banter and colourful characters.

 

Flat Out Love Title by Casey Carlisle

A pleasant romantic read with a touch of mystery solving. The main reason for loving this book is the research that went behind it – Park really knew her characters and their motivations. A prime example of character driven plot. Celeste had me rolling on the floor with her blunt one liners.

 

What books made your top ten? Tell me what your favourite read for 2014 is.

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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 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.

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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    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.