Book review: The Retribution of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin

The final and mind-bendingly twisty conclusion to a series that proved to be unpredictable right from the start.

The Retribution of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin (first published in 2014 by Simon Pulse, an imprint of Simon & Schuster)
Disclaimer:  A Shortened version of this review first appeared on 

Please note: As this is the conclusion to a trilogy, this review may contain spoilers for The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer (book one) and The Evolution of Mara Dyer (book two).

Let me start off by saying that I really loved this trilogy. It’s not every day that you find a trilogy where you barely find any fault with all the books in the series, and for me, The Mara Dyer collection is pretty close to perfection.

When I first started reading the series, I was initially under the impression that I was simply reading a suspense novel with a paranormal focus of the vampire/werewolf affliction kind.

What I encountered instead was a book series that really didn’t want to fit into any genre per se, but one which, if I was hard-pressed to describe, could probably be categorised as a contemporary suspense novel, with medical and paranormal overtones.

If you’re interested in books that explore genetics and ethics in the medical research industry, paired with an added dose of horror for good measure, then this trilogy will be right up your alley. 

Throw in an unreliable narrator, a dual-narrative structure weaving between past and present AND a mastermind manipulator and you have the recipe for a book that makes for the stuff of urban legends.

With this book being the conclusion to the trilogy, we find that things take a darker turn.  Mara and her friends are trapped in the medical centre which was meant to help her and others like her. Instead, what was supposed to be a rehabilitation centre quickly becomes a place in which she and her friends have to fight their way out of in order to escape.

As they run for their lives, it quickly becomes apparent that the madness they’ve just escaped is only the beginning of the hell they’re about to face. And with Mara already struggling with her inner demons, it’s not long before the group start wondering if the real danger isn’t Mara herself.

Fast-paced, gritty and gory, The Retribution of Mara Dyer had me enthralled from the get-go.

It’s a book that plays with voice and messes with your emotions. It’s a read that will having you playing conspiracy  theorist and one that will make you question everything you know about the human mind, genetic anomalies and that fine line between genius and insanity.

Mara has proven that she’s a character whose story, thoughts and reactions, constantly lead you down paths less travelled. Here you have a girl who has been through so much and gone beyond the realms of what any sane human should have to endure.

She’s come undone, but it’s the fact that she’s in the state that she’s left in that galvanises her into action. And it’s this that makes for such compelling storytelling. 

Michelle isn’t afraid of pushing her characters to the edge of the abyss in order to see just what they’re made of. With Mara, she takes things to a deep and dark level that I’m only just beginning to see more of in YA.

I knew things would even more twisted than before, but I certainly wasn’t expecting it to go into such detail.  Not that I’m complaining or anything.

I loved seeing how her relationships with her close friends and loved ones remained so strong throughout the book. 

We unfortunately don’t get to see much of Noah in the first half of the book, but when he enters the scene, boy, does he make an entrance. I certainly adored the relationship between the two of them and couldn’t help but feel for them given all of the opposition these two had to endure.

However, ultimately, this book isn’t about romantic relationships (yay for the very smexy moments between Noah and Mara), although it does include it.

No, The Retribution of Mara Dyer is a book that explores human nature in all of its complexities. It’s a battle of wits, control and a desire to play puppet master in the game of survival of the fittest, or in this case, the genetically enhanced.


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