The Retribution of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin

“An angel sat on one shoulder, a devil on the other. Both of them wore my face.”

It’s been such a long time since I’ve completed a trilogy. Today I finished the last book to the Mara Dyer Series. It’s not my favorite series, but it was an entertaining at some parts and frustrating at other parts. I read all three books on my kindle, but I would not buy the physical books as beautiful as the covers may be. Many of the booktubers I follow loved the series, but I really tried my best and I did find it a tad overrated. I’d like to apologize in advanced, since this review will have spoilers, so you have been warned! Let’s get on with the review!

Goodreads synopsis:

Mara Dyer wants to believe there’s more to the lies she’s been told.

There is.

She doesn’t stop to think about where her quest for the truth might lead.

She should.

She never had to imagine how far she would go for vengeance.

She will now.

Loyalties are betrayed, guilt and innocence tangle, and fate and chance collide in this shocking conclusion to Mara Dyer’s story.

Retribution has arrived.

  • What I liked:

    – This book was gruesome and Mara was like an assassin!!!
    – Mara, Jaime, and Stella breaking out of Horizons together
    – That whole road trip to New York
    – Dr. Kells having the mutation G1821, but she was not an active carrier.
    – Daniel finally believing Mara. It was one of the best moments when Daniel realized that his sister was not crazy the whole time.
    – Finding all that evidence of Dr. Kells experiments. I liked how Jaime, Daniel, Mara, and Stella all teamed up
    – Learning about how many boys Dr. Kells had to kill in order to get results. Jude was the only one to have survived the tests while others died.
    – I thought Jude was dying in the beginning of the book, did not expect him to show up again near the end. He really made the book interesting.
    – Reunion with Noah
    – Chapters with Noah’s perspective
    – Mara and Noah finally being with each other, despite what anyone said
    – I love Jamie and Daniel; they are my favorite characters in the whole series.

    What I disliked:

    – No epic fight between Mara and David Shaw
    – David Shaw just disappeared as quickly as he appeared in the books.
    – The pregnancy test
    – Some parts were slow.
    – Why did Stella have to go? Why?
    – Noah appeared way to late in the book.
    – Dr. Kells died to soon, it would have been cool if she had escaped Horizons and then battled Mara later on in the book.
    – Mara’s “death”, though I like Mara and Noah as a couple, I would have loved the book much more if Mara had died. It was really sad when Mara chose death in order to save the ones she loved. It was such a heartbreaking scene, and I thought that was going to be the end of the story. I feel that she would have died as a hero if she stayed dead, while Noah would have continued to live on.
    – I wish the epilogue took place years later instead of a couple days later

Final Thoughts: I have mixed feelings about the series. I loathed the first book, the second book was the best, and the final book was a bit exciting, but definitely better than the first book. I was more excited to read about her grandma and how the past and present sort of merged together. Mara was much more violent in this book, but she had to do what she had to do. She tried to get rid of her villains, but she did not have to rely on her power. I was not expecting Mara to become physically violent, which was a bit alarming. She was not the same girl from the second book. During the whole journey to New York, I thought Mara was becoming mentally unstable since she was weak and she would listen to her reflection. When Mara decided to cut her stomach, I seriously thought she was ill, but it was revealed that two small drugs were stuck in her stomach thus making her feel weak and stopping her from using her power. For the climax, I thought there was going to be a huge fight near the end of the book when Noah’s father, David Shaw finally made an appearance. It was revealed that David was the one responsible for hiring Dr. Kells and funding her experimentations. I was not that surprised to know he was the one behind everything, I had a feeling since the second book that he had to be the bigger villain. I really did enjoy seeing the flashbacks of Mara’s grandmother. Again, I did have a feeling that Abel Lukumi was the professor and the grandfather of Mara. I do like his power, which I believe is immortality. After the whole Mara “dies” and Noah “dies” scene, I really wanted to finished the book and not in a good way. It took me a while to get to the end of the book, but I finished. I liked the last sentence of the book: “My name is not Mara Dyer, but my lawyer told me I had to choose something”.

Final Rating: ★★★☆☆ 😶

Dreams of Joy by Lisa See: Book Review

“As she spoke, I wanted to cry, because sometimes it’s just so damn hard to be a mother. We have to wait and wait and wait for our children to open their hearts to us. And if that doesn’t work, we have to bide our time and look for the moment of weakness when we can sneak back into their lives and they will see us and remember us for the people who love them unconditionally.”

Lisa See is one of my favorite author’s and every time I see she has a new book published, I have to buy it. I know that Dreams of Joy came out a while ago, but I finally managed to read it. I read Shanghai Girls and I was left with wanting more because of the tragic ending. I am glad to have read the sequel and it did not disappoint. The novel is told in two perspectives Pearl (protagonist of Shanghai Girls) and Joy, her daughter. May I say, that I enjoyed this novel so much. Let’s get on with the review!

Characters: I found Joy to be very annoying in the beginning of the novel, she was a young adult who was ignorant of what was really happening in China during Mao’s rule. It felt as if she were brainwashed into believing that communism was for the greater good. She was very immature and stubborn with her mother and her biological father in the novel, but she redeems herself when she becomes a wife. Joy’s struggles as an outsider in a small village was so heartbreaking. She tried her best to fit in with the villagers, but she was more American than Chinese. She believed that she had friends in Green Dragon Village, but villagers couldn’t be trusted. I love how she realizes that communism was not as great as she imagined it to be. She suffered many cruelties from her husband and his family, but continues to be brave and face any danger in order to survive. I loved how much she changes in the novel. Pearl, I loved her in Shanghai Girls, and she changed as well. I was heartbroken that she lost Sam (he died in the previous book) and Joy in China. Pearl stays strong and never loses hope of bringing Joy back to America. I was glad that she and her sister May reconciled for the better at the end of the novel. The character that I hated had to be Tao. I liked Joy’s relationship with him at the beginning of the novel, but I have to agree that they were rushing their relationship. I thought Joy was going to be happy, but she ends up miserable. Tao is ambitious and does whatever it takes to make himself important. I don’t believe that he loved Joy, but was using her because of her connections with her father, Z.G. (he’s an important artist with many connections in the government). Lastly, I was glad to see that Z.G. had a bigger role in this novel than the first novel. I loved him more in Dreams of Joy than I did in Shanghai Girls. He does what he must to survive in communist China.

Plot: Joy suffers from an identity crisis after realizing that her relatives have been lying to her for nineteen years. Joy is shocked beyond belief after finding out that Pearl is not really her mother. Influenced by the social group she joined at her university, she views communism as the best form of government. Though she has high expectations of communism, she slowly discovers that communism is not what she expected the more she stays in China. Pearl, her adoptive mother, does whatever she must to retrieve her daughter. As I’ve mentioned the story is told in alternating perspectives.

Sad Moments: There are many sad moments in this novel. Vern dies and May finally realizes how her sister Pearl feels about being a widow. Reunion with Cook in Shanghai. I did cry when Joy was declined a divorce and her close friend Kumei betrays her. I don’t want to spoil it too much but seriously, this novel has many sad events.

Awww Moments: My favorite one has to be Joy naming her daughter Samantha after her father Sam. It really made me happy. The second one would have to be Pearl finding love in Shanghai and letting go of her feelings for Z.G.

This novel did inspire me to learn more about Mao’s regime in China. Lisa See wrote about the Great Leap Forward and how destructive that plan was for the nation. I can’t wait to start her newest novel China Dolls. Would I recommend this book? Heck yes! I feel that Lisa See takes her time to research what she wants to write about. This is a great book and so is Shanghai Girls. My rating is a 4 out of 5. 😀