There's just enough doubt laid out in this book...is Mara Dyer actually crazy? Or is she really seeing the boy she thinks she killed when an abandoned asylum collapsed? I went back and forth at times--I so wanted to believe there was nothing wrong with Mara, yet she seems unstable at times. And that's just one part of this sequel that had me gripped as I wove my way through the darkness.
The second book in Michelle Hodkin's series which began with The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer picks up almost immediately after Mara's breakdown in the first; Mara is convinced she has seen Jude, the boy who she believes died in the collapse. Mara's receiving treatment for her "breakdown", and that includes going to Horizons, a sort of day camp that will work on her issues. Still at her side is her boyfriend, Noah; both he and Mara seem to have some sort of superpower but neither knows why. Much of this book is spent in their attempts to discover the reasons behind what they can do. It's harder for them in this second book, with Mara's parents (and Noah) determined not to leave her alone for any time at all, and the creepiness factor is upped substantially: Jude somehow invades Mara's bedroom while she is sleeping, leaving her scary messages and moving things around. Delicious and intriguing: How is he getting in? And why won't anyone believe Mara when she says he's still alive?
The mystery is revealed only a bit at a time, and it includes flashbacks to a time long ago, somewhere in India; it is definitely becoming apparent that whatever is going on, it's genetic. But even when we get an answer, it seems as though there's another one in its place. Hodkin is a master of making the reader doubt what's going on; even her characters show distrust and skepticism. I love Mara's voice; she's definitely a teen, first and foremost, but it's easy to see how lost she feels.
My biggest issues with this book aren't too overwhelming, but they did bother me as I read. First is pacing; at times I felt I was spinning my wheels, waiting to move forward, then at others, it was whiplash as events flew by. I also am still on the fence about the relationship between Mara and Noah; I want to feel the depth and the tension, but somehow, it's just eluding me. I want them to be together, but I need some sparks, not just random outbursts of "I need you!" followed by distance.
The Evolution of Mara Dyer is filled with interesting characters and a highly atmospheric creepiness that keeps the pages turning. It's a long read (around 500 pages) but it's a fairly quick one. I'm definitely invested and can't wait for the third in the series to see how all is revealed.