The Evolution of Mara Dyer (Mara Dyer #2) by Michelle Hodkin

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?

evolution

After the cliff hanger of an ending in ‘The Unbecoming of Mara  Dyer’, I immediately put the sequel on hold.   This action is extremely rare for me, as I prefer stand-alone titles and try to avoid committing to series.  I’m so glad this book did not disappoint.  It picks up right where the previous book left off and takes readers on one crazy, thrill ride.  Fans that enjoyed the creepiness in book one have plenty to look forward to, including: one freaky handmade doll, dead crows, and a mental hospital.   I must admit that I didn’t fully ‘get’ what was happening at all times (including the flashbacks to India), yet I was still completely engrossed in this psychological tale.  Hodkin had my attention from page one as I attempted to formulate theories on Mara’s situation.  Just when I thought I had it all figured out… BAM.  Major twists (or shall I say allies) I never saw coming!

In comparison of the two books, I’m glad that Hodkin downplayed the romance element.  I didn’t completely hate Noah in this one.  Yet, I still think he was way over protective and Mara relied on him too much.  I also wish their abilities were tested just a tad more. At this point, they are still unsure of what and who they are.

I did find some parts a little drawn out and lengthy (the book is over 500 pages!), which makes me question whether a third book in the series was truly necessary.  I guess there is only one way to find out…. The Retribution of Mara Dyer will be released Fall 2013.

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Starring Jules (as herself) by Beth Ain

Jules doesn’t want to ruin THE OPPORTUNITY OF A LIFETIME, and she’s willing to turn to anyone for help–even her know-it-all ex-best friend! If only that lovely new girl in class would turn out to be the new best friend of her dreams, maybe, just maybe, Jules will be ready for her close-up

starring

To be released March 2013

First, big thanks to Scholastic for the ARC of this hilarious easy chapter book. Best suited for children ages 7-10, this book has wide appeal.  Jules is one unique kid with a huge dislike of the color orange. Her mother calls her ‘wacky’ and her ex best friend describes her as ‘the anti-lip-gloss-queen-of –the-worms’.  I simply adored the character of Jules, especially her love of writing lists.  Some of her list titles include: ‘things I would change about my room’, and ‘things to do before I turn eight’.  Sigh… I wish my lists still looked like that!

The interesting chapter titles hint to readers what’s in store for Jules.  My favourite chapter title is ‘Take Six: Promising Playdates, Spaghetti with Peanut Butter and Other distractions’.  Her lists, actions and worries are all very realistic for a girl her age.  Although readers may not be able to relate to her wish for stardom, they will understand her friendship struggles.

The black and white drawings throughout were a fun addition.  Since this was an ARC, only a couple were included but look for more images in the published version.  Lastly, as a librarian, I applaud Ain for introducing readers to new vocabulary. Jules learns the meaning of argyle, pizzazz, snazzy, and improvise.  The learning of new words was done in a natural way and I’m sure kids will positively respond to this way of learning (like Fancy Nancy).

CHA-CHA-CHA (because it’s always a good idea).

Review- Every day by David Levithan

Every day a different body. Every day a different life. Every day in love with the same girl.

There’s never any warning about where it will be or who it will be. A has made peace with that, even established guidelines by which to live: Never get too attached. Avoid being noticed. Do not interfere.

It’s all fine until the morning that A wakes up in the body of Justin and meets Justin’s girlfriend, Rhiannon. From that moment, the rules by which A has been living no longer apply. Because finally A has found someone he wants to be with—day in, day out, day after day.

 

every day

Every Day is a wonderful story about love, and acceptance.  Over the course of the novel, I really began to feel for A.  I felt sorry for the way A wasn’t able to connect and grow with other individuals or experience family and love (until Rhiannon that is).  The book is written so that every chapter details the different physical body A inhabits.  Readers journey along with A as he/she transforms into different body sizes, genders, and orientations.

Although the concept of being trapped in another’s body has been done, this book felt fresh.  I enjoyed the glimpse into other people’s lives and respected that A chose to never really muddle or intrude in the lives of the bodies he inhabited.  Kudos to Levithan for making me like a character that existed without a physical body, gender, or sexual preference.  Despite not identifying with key factors, I still pictured A as male. So for the remainder of the review, I will refer to A as he.  Did anyone else picture A as male?

At times, I felt like Leviathan was coming on a bit strongly in his effort to demonstrate his own viewpoint (gender roles/sexuality as a societal construct).  For example, A mentions that he wanted to call out Rhiannon on being more attracted to him when in a male’s body.   I don’t think that is fair.  Sure, it’s the person inside that really matters, but you can’t help if you’re only physically attracted to men. It just felt judgemental in a book that is supposed to be about tolerance and understanding.

Overall, I really enjoyed this page turner of a book.  The ending was heartbreaking, but true to A’s character. Although we all have full and ‘blank days’, this book reminds us to not take our love and relationships for granted.

Review: The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin

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I simply cannot begin this review without mentioning the beautiful cover.  It is one of my recent favourites. While I try not to choose my books by beautiful covers, I find myself visually swayed every time.  After the cover, I immediately read the synopsis. In this case, the synopsis didn’t give too much away (see below). However, I think it was just enough dark and creepy to persuade me to pick it up.

Synopsis:

Mara Dyer doesn’t think life can 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 mysteriously unharmed.
There is.
She doesn’t believe that after everything she’s been through, she can fall in love.
She’s wrong.

Oooohh creepy! It gets even more fantastic with the handwritten note by ‘Mara’ in which she refers to murders and the use of a pseudonym for protection.   The eerie darkness is continued throughout storyline and plot. The plot itself had A LOT going on, including kidnapping, murder(s), alligators, hallucinations, and a dog rescue.  I really enjoyed piecing the puzzle together along with Mara.  However, one aspect I didn’t enjoy was the romance piece.  I’m sure many readers were swooning over the bad boy Noah, but I just couldn’t like someone accused of ‘using and discarding girls like condoms’.   Yuck.

The ending had me as confused as Mara.  HUH? HOW?  This allowed Hodkin to end with a very huge cliff hanger moment and clearly readers will want to pick up book two ‘The Evolution of Mara Dyer ‘immediately.

 

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