Series Review: The Mara Dyer Trilogy by Michelle Hodkin

I had been meaning to read the Mara Dyer trilogy forever! I had heard so many things about the series, how crazy it was, and how it messes with your head so I was incredibly excited to finally start! I even avoided an event at my local bookstore when Michelle Hodkin was in town because I hadn’t read the books yet and I didn’t want to encounter any spoilers.

We read THE UNBECOMING OF MARA DYER together for our On the Same Page read in January and I knew I wanted to binge-read these series to A) finally complete it and B) because I had hoped I just couldn’t put it down!

Each book is reviewed individually and then I have some overall feelings on the series, all spoiler-free!

Series Review: The Mara Dyer Trilogy by Michelle HodkinTitle: The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer (Mara Dyer #1) by Michelle Hodkin
Publishing Info: September 27, 2011 by Simon & Schuster
Source: Audible
Genres: Young Adult, Mystery/Thriller, Paranormal
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: January 7, 2016
Related Posts: The Evolution of Mara Dyer

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.

I was SUPER excited to finally start this series! THE UNBECOMING OF MARA DYER kicked off with a bang (maybe quite literally) and really hits the ground running! I was immediately intrigued and was hoping for some super twisty things to happen!

The middle of the book dragged for me just a little bit. When books kick off with such a big start and then the pacing slows, I tend to have trouble staying hooked unless more crazy and/or twisty things continue to happen. There was a lot of necessary set-up of Mara’s new life in Florida and how she meets Noah Shaw/comes to fall for him but there were so many THINGS I couldn’t wait to find out that it did slow down for me just a tad!

There was SO much hype about how much this book/series messes with readers’ heads that I just really wanted so much more of that throughout the book. There were a lot of things that happened but there was very little explanation in this book. I knew (well, hoped) that it would be explained in later books but I do get frustrated when more questions appear than answers. I feel like in order to keep readers hooked, you need them to feel like they got something and aren’t left feeling so confused or in the dark. It’s also more exciting to actually get some answers and then be able to ponder what that means for the rest of the series!

The ending did get super twisty and I totally raced to finish the book! Thank goodness I already knew I was binge-reading the series because I would have had to after that ending!

Series Review: The Mara Dyer Trilogy by Michelle HodkinTitle: The Evolution of Mara Dyer (Mara Dyer #2) by Michelle Hodkin
Publishing Info: October 23, 2012 by Simon & Schuster
Source: Audible
Genres: Young Adult, Mystery/Thriller, Paranormal
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: January 17, 2016
Related Posts: The Evolution of Mara Dyer

The truth about Mara Dyer's dangerous and mysterious abilities continues to unravel in the New York Times bestselling sequel to the thrilling The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer. 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?

WELL, EVOLUTION certain amped up the mind games quite a bit! Of course you always want to believe the protagonist (Mara) but it’s a case of, is this really an unreliable narrator or is she actually experiencing the truth and no one believes her? It was so much fun to really play around with those ideas and never quite know what was going on! Things started to get absolutely bananas towards the end and I was literally shivering and shouting and afraid of things that go bump in the night because I was getting so freaked out (in a good way).

I really felt like things picked up throughout EVOLUTION and carried on with a steady pace. The reader finds out a lot more of what is happening to Mara and a little bit more as to why. This was definitely my favorite book of the series but things got super twisty and I was totally riveted from about the middle of the book until the end!

I was actually a little bit disappointed by the ending, though. I’m not sure if I had hoped for more mystery? There are some answers to whether we trust Mara or throw her into the loony bin and I wasn’t a huge fan of how the answers played out. I think it felt a bit strange, maybe a bit too hard to believe? Which is saying a lot considering what we’ve learned about what Mara can do and I’ve fully accepted that!

I also was a bit disappointed that more questions got added and there were STILL things I had no answers for. I always hope that book two answers some to most of the questions set up in book one and I was left wondering what the hell is going on with some of these things.

Series Review: The Mara Dyer Trilogy by Michelle HodkinTitle: The Retribution of Mara Dyer (Mara Dyer #3) by Michelle Hodkin
Publishing Info: November 4, 2014 by Simon & Schuster
Source: Audible
Genres: Young Adult, Mystery/Thriller, Paranormal
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: January 22, 2016
Related Posts: The Evolution of Mara Dyer

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.

RETRIBUTION was a very weird case for me in that the entire book was actually a bit lacking for me but the ending was so clever and very fun! It actually left me on a good note with the series which was nice because I was kind of frustrated with the overall feel of this book, especially as a series conclusion. It sort of felt like it should have been the “sophomore slump” you so often see in trilogies except this happened in the last book instead. Very strange!

RETRIBUTION was the least mysterious/suspenseful for me. There was a lot of action and some straight up “I can’t believe he/she just did that” moments but it felt more like shock value than actual suspense. I was totally bummed that I didn’t have as many “omg” or “wtf” moments as I had in the first two books. Book two was just out of control with crazy moments and RETRIBUTION kind of took a turn…

There was a lot going on in this book but things started to feel way more far-fetched. I mean, we’re dealing with possible paranormal, possible sci-fi, possible mind-messing, but things started to really stray here, I think. Without spoiling anything, I will note that there seemed to be a major character shift which really threw me off. There are new characters who gain more spotlight and other characters who end up moving to the back-burner or are completely (physically) absent for large chunks of the book. It kind of screwed up the dynamic for me and just plain felt odd to do in the last book when relationships are solidifying and answers are finally happening.

I was also not impressed with the new settings and scenery change. Again, it felt like the “sophomore slump” since that so often happens to me in book two even though this was the last book in the trilogy. I just really didn’t like the turn the book took and I felt like an inordinate amount of time was spent in this new setting with this new concept. I really felt like things could have been wrapped up quicker — or just differently all together — and the story could have continued with more suspense or crazy answers.

When it comes down to it, RETRIBUTION did provide a lot of big questions for me. My issue was that I wasn’t a big fan of how those answers came to be. I did like what the answers were but I wished things had played out a little differently to get there. Some scenes felt unnecessary and overdone when something simpler could have happened. It was paranormal, it was science, and yet it was neither. I was sadly not super impressed with the conclusion to the series but I was left on a high note with the very ending of the book itself. I wished parts in the beginning of RETRIBUTION had been more condensed and maybe played out a little differently. Overall, the series was fun but felt a little too dramatic to me when it could have been more suspenseful. The suspense and mystery was absolutely GREAT but I wanted so much more of it in the last book.

SERIES THOUGHTS

Mara Dyer was a lot of fun and really did keep me on the edge of my seat! I’m glad I ended up reading all of these back-to-back-to-back because I would have lost a lot of details if I had waited. The second book was definitely the most thrilling and twisty for me and I really wish the third book had continued on that pace. It was definitely a bit crazy but it also started to become a bit too wild for me in the sense that I wasn’t quite believing it anymore. I kind of felt like Michelle Hodkin was trying to combine too many things all into one series. There are some series (The Raven Cycle comes to mind) where the books blur the lines between genres and you don’t end up falling into any one specific category. I feel like that’s what Mara Dyer should have been for me and it almost was, but things started to fall apart once the answers started coming into play. The answers to the mysteries did resolve things but I wasn’t a big fan of how we got there.

The romance was definitely a lot of fun and I loved the balance between Mara and Noah! They played off of each other nicely and their opposition really made them a good pair! I wasn’t wholly sold on the romance the way some readers are. There was definitely chemistry there and I don’t know if it was because I was listening to the audiobook but I could have used a bit more development of the feelings before the whole falling in love thing. BUT I do get it in the long run!

I absolutely loved the humor in these books. Lots of sarcasm, quips, banter, and jokes based on pop culture. I love how every day humor really brings characters alive and Michelle Hodkin did an amazing job with that! Although I wasn’t totally satisfied with some of the plot developments, I think Michelle Hodkin does an amazing job at character development. I feel like I got a really good sense of who everyone was and Michelle Hodkin really let each personality shine!

Overall, I was hoping for a bit more suspense and mind-messing! Each book definitely had its moments but it didn’t quite seem consistent throughout the series. I also really enjoyed how thing wrapped up but I wasn’t a big fan of how book three got there. It was a solid series, though, and I definitely want to pick up the Noah POV that’s coming out in 2017! I actually feel like I have the potential to enjoy it more than this one… I’m pretty excited for it!

Have you read the Mara Dyer trilogy? Which book was your favorite? Are you planning to read the Noah POV in 2017!?

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Addiction Rating
Read them!

I did enjoy this series as a whole. The great thing was that once I was done with one book, I immediately wanted the next — thank goodness I started this series after they were all out!! I wasn’t totally impressed but I did like the ease of reading and how quickly I was sucked in. I definitely enjoyed this world and want more!

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BOOKS LIKE THE MARA DYER TRILOGY

(Click the cover to see my review!)

POSSESS     UNSPOKEN

7 thoughts on “Series Review: The Mara Dyer Trilogy by Michelle Hodkin

  1. Lefty @ The Left-Handed Book Lover

    Hmmm…I read the first book in the series years ago, when it first came out. I remember thinking it was okay, nothing all that special, but I also remember ALL THE HYPE. I’ve seen some reviews around lately that really make me want to reconsider reading it and finish the series. The fact that the second one is your favorite really piques my interest. I’m sorry that the last one was a bit disappointing, but I’m glad you enjoyed the series as a whole. Great reviews!

  2. Cristina @ Girl in the Pages

    Glad you had an overall good experience with this series, even if you had issues with the last book. I was the same way, I LOVED the first two (especially the second…it terrified me in the best way!) but I was really let down by the execution of the third, as it felt like an awkward genre switch from paranormal to…sci-fi? I also felt, like you, that there were some plot elements that got messy when being “explained.” Overall though I know this a series I will one day reread, as it has such a unique vibe!

  3. Jadena

    I read the Unbecoming and the Evolution at the end of 2011 and I picked up the Retribution as soon as humanly possible (I had to wait FOREVER for it to come out ). I absolutely love this series and I definitely see your issues with it. As much as I enjoyed the Retribution, in some ways it was lacking… There almost needed to be a fourth book because of the direction it took. I recently finished the audio version of the Unbecoming today, and to me the chemistry wasn’t as great in this format. I am glad that you liked it overall!

  4. Kay @ It's a Book Life

    I love this series and wish I would have read them right after another. The long wait in-between books made me forget a lot! I just loved the unreliable narrator and the ship in these books. 😀

  5. Olivia Roach

    Hmm… I have this series on my TBR but lately I have been hearing more and more mixed things. In general the series seems to pass the good mark but there are bits that drag a little or just are a bit disappointing. I think I will read it anyway because there are always things like that with books and coming across perfect ones are rare :3

  6. Jacklin Updegraft

    It’s so funny because I just did the same and binge read this series. I read the first one (which I found at Target for 4 bucks HARDCOVER) and the ending was so good I just knew I had to finish it. But by the time the third one had come out I hadn’t read any of them and then I read reviews that the ending wasn’t that great and people were really disappointed. Anyways I loved the first one and the second one. The second one was so good and creepy and I stayed up till like 4 to finish it. But I felt the same way about the third one. It was just lacking that same creepy vibe. It was more a crazy killer vibe. It was still good and I liked that it ended the way it did, but I thought it could have been a bit better. Especially because 1&2 were so good.

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