Noah, Noah, Noah. My heart breaks for you! 💔
Some weren’t anxious for this trilogy to come out. They wanted to stick with the happy ending they received with The Retribution of Mara Dyer and that’s okay. But I fell in love with Noah Shaw and really wanted to get inside his head. Learn more about him, how he thinks, how he really feels for Mara. In a sense, this book didn’t disappoint. I’ll explain more in a moment. First, let me introduce you…
Everyone thinks seventeen-year-old Noah Shaw has the world on a string.
Mara Dyer is the only one he trusts with his secrets and his future.
And both are scared that uncovering the truth about themselves will force them apart.
In keeping with the super vague book descriptions that the Mara Dyer trilogy had, you can see that this one doesn’t give much away either. That’s great but I also (personally) didn’t feel like they adequately fit the books they represented either. The only part that I can confidently say pertains to this story is that secrets are revealed and their damage may be irreparable.
A Warning: Spoilers ahead if you haven’t read the Mara Dyer trilogy.
“The first time I heard her, I never wanted to listen to anyone else.”
Ms. Hodkin, is nothing if not consistent. Noah’s story picks up right where the Mara story ends. No preamble or “reminder” section. So don’t think you can read this as a standalone trilogy. It is a full extension of those first 3 books. Speaking of, here’s my review of ‘The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer’ & ‘The Evolution of Mara Dyer’ by Michelle Hodkin.
I gave Unbecoming 4 stars and Evolution 4.5 stars. The Retribution of Mara Dyer also earned 4 stars from me but I finished it when I was on a blog hiatus so I don’t have a related review post. I may go back and fill one in. Not sure yet. Would you be interested in reading it if I did? Anyway, back to Noah…
“I waged my heart on you and lost, again and again and again, but still I would do it. I could never bet on anyone else.”
I actually really enjoyed this new edition to the saga and I’m excited to see where it goes. The Mara Dyer series left some strings loose and I think Ms. Hodkin is going to try and tie them up here. For example, how involved was Noah’s dad with everything? Where did all this begin and how far back do these abilities go? Who is ‘The Professor’? How exactly are Noah and Mara fated to be… As joined opposites working in unity for peace or battling enemies causing chaos like the Hero and Villain stories?
Like I said, the book opens more or less where Retribution leaves off. Mara has accompanied Noah to England for his father’s funeral and to help settle his father’s estate. It’s here that things begin happening – the suicide of “Gifted” person – and the joining of another member to their group – Goose, Noah’s childhood friend. Figuring the suicide was a ‘one off’, they travel back to New York and learn that it wasn’t. The suicides of many people like them have been becoming more frequent. Some it seems, were not voluntary. Noah is plagued with being in their minds when they die and can’t accept that even though they look like suicide, they’re actually murder. These people are pleading not to die even as the hang themselves or step in front of a subway train. It doesn’t make sense.
“This is what people who have never wanted to die don’t understand: the worst thing for those of us who do is feeling like we have to live when we don’t want to. That we have to be when we don’t want to, exist where we don’t want to. What we want is nothingness, numbness, because that has to be better than the life of quiet desperation we’re living. Mara’s hand is in my hair as I lean my head back against the cracked leather seat, eyes closed, mind ruminating. The others…they weren’t missing what I’m missing, is the thing. They didn’t exist because they had no other choice. They didn’t see the world through a lens in which every scene contains a door marked exit, a door I’m forever unable to open. They lived because they wanted to. Until the end, when something, or someone, made them stop wanting. And I need to find out what.”
While trying to solve this mystery, new characters join our old cast. Goose, as I mentioned, turns out to be an amplifier. Leo, who I didn’t care for at all, can project images into other’s minds. Sophie, Daniel’s girlfriend, has even been hiding a secret from everyone this whole time. Turns out, our happy little troop was really just sitting on a hidden bomb that has been waiting to explode.
Back to Noah and Mara though. They’re still the two constellations we know and love, constantly circling each other, unable to leave the other’s gravitational pull. But we’re also beginning to see the cracks. Mara got really comfortable being on her own, without Noah. She’s off doing her own thing more often and we don’t see the regret for her actions like we did in Unbecoming or even Evolution. She still the same but she’s also accepted the dark side of herself. She feels no shame anymore. Jaime and Stella try to tell Noah but he has a really hard time accepting it. Stella even blames Mara for the deaths; insinuating that it’s really Mara in everyone’s head, pushing them to kill themselves.
“She’s a rock I want to break myself against.”
That’s really what this first book in the trilogy is about… Noah finally seeing Mara as everyone else does and it breaks him. He still loves her but he doesn’t know if he can be with who she has become. The secrets and their choices become a seemingly insurmountable obstacle. It killed me but at the same time, Michelle has a way of sharing a story that makes senses. I don’t know that any of us would’ve made different choices than them. From Mara or Noah’s perspective, given we were in their position, what happens is logical. I’m still honestly rooting for them but at this point, I can’t see how he can save her from herself. Not now that she doesn’t want to be saved. I mean…
“Everything Stella said…” I let the sentence trail off, thinking of her in the hospital, alone. “I defended you.”
“I never asked you to defend me,” she says. “Not to anyone.”
“You asked me to help you. You asked me to fix you, for fuck’s sake!”
“That’s true, I did, once. And you told me I wasn’t broken.”
As if this isn’t all of it, Ms. Hodkin leaves us with a Hell of a twist at the end. The person waiting for Noah after Mara left? 😲 Oh, this opens up a whole new can of questions and implications! I’d need a whole notebook to list them all.
In the end, I gave this one 4 stars on my Goodreads page. I want to give it 4.5 but you know how Goodreads is with halfsies. 😑 The half star off is only because the pacing got a little weird towards the end and I struggled a bit. Other than that, I highly recommend if you loved the Mara Dyer series! ❤
Trigger Warnings for Self Harm, Suicide, Drinking, and Depression.