Mara Dyer Series Review & Literary Discussion


Hey guys, I’m Trina and today I have a series
review over the Mara Dyer trilogy by Michelle Hodkin. The first book in the series is The
Unbecoming of Mara Dyer. The second book is The Evolution of Mara Dyer. And the third
and final book is The Retribution of Mara Dyer. I’m going to start out with a summary
and my non-spoilery thoughts on the series and then I’m going to move into some things
about the third book that I want to be able to discuss, which of course would spoil the
third book. So if you’ve read it, stick around for the last part. And I will give you ample
warning for when the spoilers will begin. I went into the first book not really having
any idea what the series was about. I knew that Mara had been in an accident and couldn’t
remember what had happened but some of her friends had died. That was all I knew. But
the synopsis that I think is commonly known is that Mara is recovering her memories from
this accident and she’s seeing her friends that supposedly died in that accident. So
the question of the series is: Is Mara suffering from a mental disorder that’s causing her
to hallucinate, or… is something paranormal going on here? There’s a lot more to it, and
that is a really good question. Is Mara crazy, or is something paranormal going on here?
That’s the main basis of the series. So with that said, I believe the general consensus
of most people that have read the entire series is that they really love the first two book
and that confusion, but they didn’t like the third book and how it answered that question.
However, I am completely opposite. I did not like the first two books and how they presented
that question. I loved the third book and how it wrapped it up! I’ll start out by saying
I flew through all of these books. There’s definitely that edge of curiosity. Just morbid
curiosity. I’ve got to keep reading, I’ve got to find out how this ends. What on earth
is going on here? And it’s not a huge time commitment so that’s why I flew through them
even though I said I didn’t really love the first two books. Now, my problems with the
first two books are that… oh man, it’s way, way instalove-y. I did not like that at all.
Now, you can say, and I did see this at first, Mara and Noah start out kind of really not
liking each other and I did appreciate that. At least it wasn’t that they’re in love from
the moment they meet. But as soon as they acknowledge their feelings for each other
it was like ‘I will die without you. I cannot go on without you.’ Too fast. Slow it down, guys! Mara’s internal narration felt very, very angsty. She just stopped functioning
when Noah was not around and I didn’t like that about the first two books. Everything
Mara did was so wrapped up in him and what was going on with him too, and that kind of
prevented us from getting answers about her. So that’s what I didn’t like. I didn’t like
how boy-centric it was. How wrapped up in that love story it was. What I did like about
book 3 though is that Mara has several scenes away from Noah. And we are actually introduced
to a female character and Mara is spending most of her time with her female friend and
a male friend and you get to see Mara for who she is as an individual. I did enjoy that.
I got to know her better, she processed things in a more clear-headed way because Noah wasn’t
around. She did still think about Noah, but it just wasn’t as annoying as it was before.
It felt like in book 3 the author got to a point where she was like alright, I really
gotta get down to business now and start answering all these questions that I’ve brought up.
Everything books 1 and 2 did were ‘I’m gonna just keep confusing the reader and bring up
all these questions and never answering anything just to draw it out and get them to read the
next book!’ But book 3 I really felt like there was a change in the writing style. It
was very much more straightforward. There is a big difference in the themes of the third
book. I kind of feel like the themes here were kind of literary genius. They were a
little bit more than what I would ever expect from a YA novel. I really think that the author
had a great idea here. I think a big reason why a lot of people don’t like the third book
is because those first two books set an expectation and then the third book was like ‘Nope! I’m
going on a much more serious route.’ And the first two books – if you liked them and you
wanted more of that, that’s why the third book could be a flop. Honestly I felt like
book 3, the structure of it and what the author was trying to do, was like a 5 star, well
rounded book and idea, but it was hindered by the foundation that books 1 and 2 built
for it. I’m going to start telling you why. And this is the spoiler part, so if you haven’t
read book 3 and you don’t want to know anything about it… go away. Come back later when
you’ve read it, or don’t come back because I know we all forget to come back to things.
Spoilers. Spoilers. Here they come, spoilers! So in book 3, and this is actually near the
end of book 3 so it’s a total spoiler for the whole series, we find out that the stuff
behind Mara and Noah and their “paranormal” powers that they seem to be having – where
Mara can cause death with her mind and Noah can heal with his mind – we actually find
out that they aren’t superpowered humans, it’s not like a league of mutants, and it’s
not hallucinations, but that they are the embodiment of literary archetypes. I loved
this idea. That’s not a mainstream, popular idea but I LOVED it! It really sold it for
me because I really felt like Michelle Hodkin was like ‘what did I learn about literature
in my college or high school courses when we were talking about archetypes of The Hero,
The Shadow, The Trickster, and The Mentor. What would these archetypes look like in modern
fiction?’ And then she like took it to an extreme version like ‘well what kind of a
super power would this archetype have?’ Well, a Hero, he sets everything right so he would
heal. He could heal, he could bring about great good and change. That’s what Noah does.
And The Shadow, or The Antagonist, is kind of his opposite. The Shadow is basically wreaking
havoc, is the problem, therefore it could be death or pain. That’s what Mara does. We
even see archetypes within Jamie who definitely embodies The Trickster archetype where The
Trickster very classically is a character that is there to kind of trick the Hero of
the story into thinking something else is true that’s not. And Jamie doesn’t necessarily
do this with Noah, who is the Hero of this story, but Jamie’s power is that he can change
somebody’s mind. He can suggest something to them and then they will do it. And then
The Mentor archetype in this book is the professor, or… (snaps) forgot his name, dang it. It’s
been a while since I read these because I’ve been sick and I don’t remember the guy’s name
but he was the professor. He’s basically the “old guy”, the mentor character, the Dumbledore,
the Gandalf. The one that’s older, who’s been around. Who knows what’s going on and can
train the new people. Well what kind of a power would The Mentor archetype have? What
about prophecy? Visions. The professor in this story could see the future and could
see how things were going to play out. I just felt like these super powers that were assigned
to the archetypes were so perfectly done, they were really fitting when you think of
the classic literary archetypes. I really loved it and how she explored this and I really
thought that it made sense and it came together well. Even her mythology behind it came together
well. Every generation – these archetypes are classical figures, so they live a long
time, and whenever they pass on, someone else in their bloodline is going to start manifesting
these things and usually it’s going to manifest when you’re a teenager because it’s set off
by hormones and that’s why it had to be a YA story. And then, if these archetypes were
real in the real world and they did have these powers, how would the rest of the world react
to that? If a person really had a super power in real life we would probably put them into
a mental institution, which is exactly what happens with Mara and her friends in this
story. I felt like everything that Michelle Hodkin did in her books, she had a reason
for it and I really thought that it was very well thought out. So, that’s why I personally
loved the third book. I really am glad that I finished out the series because I thought
it was strong, but I definitely see how it may not be the most popular thing because
this really isn’t a mainstream idea. Usually we’re used to more like X-Men things. Yeah,
these characters in Mara Dyer did have powers, but they weren’t sensationalized and pop culture
type of powers. It was a very literary idea that just is a little bit more unique. There’s
nothing wrong with it, there’s nothing wrong with people not liking it, or liking it, or
whatever, it just is different. But I feel like that idea might have suited an adult
audience better, but people who like to read literary fiction are not going to sit through
these first two books, so that’s kind of where I think the weakness of this series is – having
this amazing idea, but kind of being hidden behind this angsty, confusing part of the
first two books. So those are my thoughts on Mara Dyer. I know a lot of people really
didn’t like the third book. If you stuck around this long, I would love to discuss this further
with you down in the comments. Let me know if you liked it, if you didn’t like it. If
you could point out any more archetypes in the story, because the one that I was really
confused about was Stella and how she fit into it. Her power was that she could read
the minds of people but I wasn’t able to find an archetype that she really fit in, so if
you know, I really want to know that. Thank you so much for watching and I will see you
in the comments. Bye! (outro music)

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