The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer was simultaneously one of the most addicting and confusing YA books I've ever read. I had so many theories for what the hell was actually going on with 'Mara' when I read that book and not one of them came even close to being right. After reading that first book I thought for sure that there was some crazy kind of paranormal activity going on. After all, it all started with a Ouija Board. Anyway, I was wrong. As the books went on, it became clear that was up with Mara was more scientific and/or genetic than paranormal. I have to admit that my interest waned a little as my paranormal hopes began to fade. But, there was Noah. And, I'm going to insert some Twilight references here, but bear with me: Noah is to the Mara Dyer series what Edward is to Twilight. He's Michelle Hodkin's trump card. He's got that hair for one thing. Oh, and remember that sparky dialogue between Noah and Mara in book one. It was EVERYTHING. I have all the quotes saved and I read them over and over. Why then did Hodkin pull a New Moon and lose Noah from this book? I'll never figure that out.
And, Okay, so Noah is not actually dead. I mean, you knew that already, right? But he is largely absent from this book. And this book misses him. Let's just say that Noah maybe brings out the best in Mara, and she is damn scary without him. Mara went to the dark side in this book, and she ain't coming back.
Animal lovers: Some upsetting scenes involving horses, be warned.
The book was, for me, not as compelling as the previous books in the series, but that's maybe because my recall of the previous books isn't great right now. It's been a while since I've read them - three years since I read the first book, I think. And that's never good. So while this book was a pretty good read, I felt like it needed something more. Or maybe just more Noah.
It's a 3.5 for me for The Retribution of Mara Dyer, with an overall 4 Star rating for the series.
Ever since I read Gone Girl a couple years back I've been meaning to read Gillian Flynn's other books and I finally got around to it this Christmas. If I had to sum up Sharp Objects in one word it would be: SICK. Seriously, this book turned my stomach a couple of times with it's themes of murder and self-harm, and its very descriptive inclusion of abattoirs. The parts about those poor pigs were the hardest for me to read, FYI. If I wasn't already vegetarian, I'd probably be considering it after reading this book.
Anyway, I loved Gone Girl, and even though I thought this book was all kinds of sick and twisted and stomach-churning, I pretty much loved it too. I am hooked on Gillian Flynn's writing and her twisty tales and I'm all ready to delve into Dark Places pretty soon.
Sharp Objects deals with the murder of two pre-teen girls in a shady small town where everyone has their secrets - and what sick secrets they are. Chilling. Scary. And chilling. And sick.
Before I start talking about this, I should point out that it's not YA. I'm saying that, because until I reached Part II of Paper Chains, I was pretty sure it was YA/NA and that the characters Hannah and India were in their late teens, or at a push, very early twenties. I don't know why I convinced myself before reading that this was YA (the synopsis or the cover maybe) but when I started reading, I was very sure it was YA and that's because the characters - mainly Hannah - read like teenagers to me.
Hannah is a self-loathing Australian who has run away from home and now lives a solitary existence in London. That is until she runs into free-spirited India who is back-packing her way around the world. India also has her secrets; a secret love, for one, who she is sending love letters to via a series of travelling strangers, but she has a bigger secret too. For me, India's secret was obvious from the start, and so it lacked the emotional impact it might have otherwise had on me. Hannah's secret was less obvious - it didn't even occur to me because, well, I thought Hannah was a lot younger than she actually turned out to be.
I had my gripes with this one: the ending was rushed for me, but the storytelling is compelling, and the lead-up to all the 'reveals' is pretty good. It's maybe one I would have had more fun reading this in the summer rather than in the middle of winter. That's just me.
Read it if you like well-written chick-lit with a warm heart (and a suckerpunch!)
My first 2015 read!
I'll be writing up a full review for The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins very soon, but just to say that if you like thrillers, and, dare I say it, if you liked Gone Girl, then you'll want to add this one to your 2015 reading list. The Girl on the Train is an astutely written, intensely gripping page-turner, and it deserves to be a big hit for debut author Hawkins. It's already a big hit with a few bloggers I know, and the movie rights have been snapped up too!
Full review to come soon.