Friday, November 21, 2014

The Retribution of Mara Dyer

The Retribution of Mara Dyer
by Michelle Hodkin

Genre:  Young Adult
Published:  11/4/14 by Simon and Schuster
Pages:  480
Format:  ebook

My rating:
4 out of 5 stars

I have been waiting (for the past three years!) to give my final rating for these books until I could read the final book. I truly enjoyed the first two books in the Mara Dyer series,b ut I didn't even write reviews for them.  I felt like the answers provided in the final book would help me to know just how much I liked (or possibly disliked?) these books. 

The Retribution of Mara Dyer was the series finale. It was not perfect, and I have a few major complaints (to be discussed below). Yet despite my complaints, I still really liked the series as a whole. I would give this book 4 stars, and I would rate the series as a whole at 4+ stars.

This series is about Mara Dyer, who has suffered through a serious accident and is experiencing hallucinations and other strange things.  She moves to new town, meets the mysterious Noah Shaw, and they both discover that they have unusual gifts/powers that they don't fully understand but which result in dangerous consequences and new enemies.

The Retribution begins with Mara locked up and drugged. With the help of some friends (and an enemy), she escapes and begins her quest to find answers, vengeance and Noah Shaw. The book is full of action and violence and murder! Hodkin did not shy away from anything in this book, and it is very fast paced. I feel like Hodkin's pacing through this entire series has been perfect. Unlike many trilogies full of "filler" pages where nothing seems to happen, this story just keeps moving and moving. Never a boring moment.

After the first two books, I had a lot of unanswered questions. I'm sure there was a lot of pressure on Michelle Hodkin to provide a final story that answers all of those questions. I haven't sat down to think through every single question I had from the first two books, but my initial thought is that she did a really great job of answering most all of the questions I had and wrapping up any plot holes. I'm not sure if all of the answers provided in this final book make complete sense, but I am willing to suspend my belief for a book like this. She definitely tried to give a complete explanation for what was happening, and I am grateful for that.

Now for my complaints. A few of these are kind of spoilerish, so I am going to give a warning now. Don't read the rest unless you have finished the book or are willing to have some plot points spoiled for you....

Let's be honest about why we all loved the first two books so much. The answer: Noah Shaw. Noah's character and his relationship with Mara are a huge part of the appeal of this story. Yet, Noah remains MIA for the first two thirds of this book. On the one hand, this worked well to create suspense for me. I was frantically reading and turning pages, wondering when in the world will Noah show up? On the other hand, I missed him. Considering that this was our last chance to learn more about him, I was disappointed that he was absent for so long. When I think about the plot and the changes that take place in Mara's character, I understand why Noah had to be absent for the sake of the story. But for the sake of the reader, I think we needed more of him in this story.

Speaking of the changes in Mara, I personally didn't like the transformation that she underwent in this book. I am not a big fan of the idea of revenge in the first place, and I didn't like that Mara turned into such a vengeful person. When these changes first started happening to her, she wanted to stop them. In this book, she embraced them. While I understand how this fits in with the story, I didn't personally love it, and I wish she would have tried to keep fighting against the changes that were happening to her rather than being so willing to accept them. I am a bit fearful of what she would do if this story were to continue.

When Noah and Mara are finally reunited, they are different people and their relationship is different. It didn't feel the same as it did in the first two books, and I think this is purposeful on the part of the author. After all that has happened and all they have learned, their relationship won't ever be the same. I found this to be bittersweet. I did like the idea of how Noah's purpose was to slay the dragon and yet instead he fell in love with it. There is something beautifully tragic about that idea. It's sad to think of what could happen to their relationship in the future. I like how Hodkin left things open ended for Noah and Mara. I don't think this story was ever meant to have a happily ever after ending. But, I would also love to learn a little more about what happens to Noah and Mara, and whether or not she does eventually "love him to ruins." Perhaps a fourth book???

I really loved the last few pages of the epilogue. It summarized how I have felt about the series and its genre throughout all three books, and I loved how it cleverly tied back to the first book. This finale didn't quite end exactly as I would have chosen, but despite my personal preferences, I do have a great appreciation for the story as a whole. This was a crazy, fun, unpredictable series of books, and I enjoyed reading through Mara Dyer's journey.

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