EXCLUSIVE: Something Is Very Wrong In This Excerpt From 'The Retribution of Mara Dyer'

First came the unbecoming; then, the evolution. Now, it's time for Retribution.

Michelle Hodkin's "Mara Dyer" trilogy has everything we love in a YA read: a heroine with strange and terrible gifts, a swoon-worthy romantic interest, a burgeoning body count, and a blood-spattered trail of secrets that leads... well, to the end, whatever that might be. In a book this twisty, all we know for sure is that something horrifying is about to go down.

But today, you can get a hint as to where it all ends for Mara. We've got an exclusive reveal of Chapter 2 of the final book in the series, "The Retribution of Mara Dyer."

Here's the cryptic, creepy summary from the book jacket:

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.

Are you excited? Are you prepared? Then read on, for our exclusive sneak peek at a chapter from "The Retribution of Mara Dyer."

CHAPTER 2

THE FIRST FACE I SAW WHEN I OPENED MY EYES WAS my own.

The wall in front of the iron bed was mirrored. So were the walls to my right and left—there were five mirrors, or six maybe. I smelled nothing, heard nothing, saw nothing but me.

During the past several months, I hadn’t spent much time looking in mirrors, for reasons. Now that I was forced to, I couldn’t quite believe that the girl I was seeing was me. My dark, thick hair was parted in the middle, and it hung limp and dull over thin shoulders. My lips were almost the same color as my skin—that is to say, white. There were angles to my face that I’d never noticed before. Or maybe they hadn’t existed before. I was looking at a ghost, a shell, a stranger. If my parents saw me, they would never know who I was.

But they never did see me. That was part of the problem. That was why I was here.

“Yeah, we look like shit,” said a voice.

Said my voice.

But I hadn’t spoken. My lips hadn’t moved.

I bolted upright, looking at my infinite reflections. They stared back, looking panicked and wary at once.

“Up here.”

The voice was above me. I craned my neck—the ceiling was mirrored too. I saw my reflection in it, but this one, this reflection, was smiling at me. Even though I wasn’t smiling.

So. I’d finally lost it.

“Not yet,” my reflection said, looking amused. “But you’re close.”

“What—what is this?” A hallucination?

“Not a hallucination,” my reflection said. “Guess again.”

I dropped my gaze for a moment, glancing around the room. Every other reflection turned when I did. God, I hoped I was dreaming.

I looked back up at the reflection above me. The girl in the mirror—me, I guess—tilted her head slightly to the left. “Not quite. You’re in that kind-of-unconscious-kind-of-not space. Which should make you feel better about your sanity.”

Marginally.

“Also, you should know that there are sensors monitoring our pulse and heartbeat, so it would be better for both of us if you’d lie back down.”

I swung my head, looking for the monitors, but didn’t see any. I listened to the girl anyway.

“Thanks,” she said. “That Wayne guy comes in and examines us whenever our heart rate spikes, and he really creeps us out.”

I shook my head, the papery pillowcase crinkling with the movement. “Don’t say ‘us.’ That creeps me out.”

“Sorry, but it is us. I’m you,” my reflection said, arching an eyebrow. “I’m not exactly your biggest fan either, you know.”

I’ve had weird dreams. I’ve had weird hallucinations. But weird didn’t even begin to touch this, whatever this was. “So, what are you? My . . . my subconscious or something?”

“You can’t talk to your subconscious. That’s stupid. It’s more like—I’m the part of you that’s aware even when you don’t know you’re aware. She’s been giving us a lot of drugs—a lot of drugs—and it’s dulled our—sorry, your—awareness in some ways and heightened it in others.”

“‘She’ being . . . ?”

“Dr. Kells.”

The machine beside me beeped loudly as my heart rate spiked. I closed my eyes, and an image of Dr. Kells rose in the blackness, looming above me, so close that I could see tiny cracks in her thick layers of lipstick. I opened my eyes to make her go away, and saw myself instead.

“How long have I been here?” I asked out loud.

“Thirteen days,” the girl in the mirror answered.

Thirteen days. That was how long I’d been a prisoner in my own body, answering questions I didn’t want to answer and doing things I didn’t want to do. Every thought and memory was fuzzy, as if they were smothered in cotton; me, locked in what looked like a child’s bedroom, drawing picture after picture of what used to be my face. Me, extending my arm obediently while Wayne, Kells’s assistant in therapeutic torture, drew my blood. And me, the first day I woke up here, held captive by drugs and forced to listen to words that would change my life.

“You’ve been a participant in a blind study, Mara.”

An experiment.

“The reason you’ve been selected for this study is because you have a condition.”

Because I’m different.

“Your condition has caused pain to the people you love.”

I’ve killed them.

“We tried very hard to save all of your friends. . . . We just couldn’t get to Noah Shaw.”

But I did not kill Noah. I could not have killed him.

“Where are they?” I asked my reflection. She seemed confused, then looked at the mirror on my right. Just a normal mirror, I thought, but then the glass went dark.

An image of a girl, or something that had once been a girl, materialized out of the blackness. She was kneeling on carpet, her black hair falling over her bare shoulders as she leaned over something I couldn’t see. Her skin glowed bronze, and shadows flickered over her face. She was blurred and indistinct, as if someone had spilled a glass of water over a painting of her and the colors had started to run. And then the girl lifted her chin and looked directly at me.

It was Rachel.

“It’s just a game, Mara.” Her voice was scratchy. Distorted. When she opened her mouth again, the only sound that came out was static. Her smile was just a smear of white.

“What’s wrong with her?” I whispered, looking at Rachel’s flickering image in the glass.

“Nothing’s wrong with her. I mean, aside from the fact that she’s dead. But there is something wrong with your memory of her. That’s what you’re seeing—your memory.”

“Why does she look like—” I didn’t even know how to describe it. “Like that?”

“The flickering? I think it’s the candles. The three of us lit them before taking out the Ouija board. Don’t tell me you’ve forgotten that?”

“No, I mean she’s—she’s—distorted.” Rachel’s arms moved in front of her, but her hands were dipped in shadow and I couldn’t see what she was doing. Then she lifted one of them to her nose. Her arm ended at her wrist.

The girl in the mirror shrugged. “I don’t know. Not all of your memories are like this. Look left.”

I did, expecting the new mirror I was staring at to go dark too. It didn’t—not at first. I watched my reflection as the ends of my hair bled from dark brown to red, until it was red to the roots. My face filled out and rounded, and the eyes that stared back at me from the glass were Claire’s.

Claire sat up, and her image split off, separated from mine. She walked out of the white surgical gown I wore, and black threads wove around her pale, freckled body, until she was clothed in the dark jeans and puffy coat she’d been wearing the night we went to the asylum. The bright light in the mirrored room flickered and went out. Roots cracked the concrete floor beneath my bed. They grew into trees that scratched the sky.

Claire looked over her shoulder at me. “Oh my God. She’s freaking out already.”

When Claire spoke, her voice was normal. She wasn’t blurry, and she didn’t flicker or warp. She was whole.

“I don’t know what it means either,” the reflection above me said. “Jude is the same.”

My mouth went dry at the sound of his name. I glanced up and followed her gaze to the mirrored wall to my right; Jude appeared in it. I saw him standing in the center of a manicured Zen garden, with huddled, hunched people arranged around him like rocks. Jamie and Stella were among them. He held Stella by her shining black hair. I could see the veins in his hands, the pores in his skin. Every feature, every detail of him was clear. Sharp. I felt a flare of rage.

“Don’t,” my reflection said. “You’ll wake us up.”

“So what?” I said. “I don’t want to see this.” I never wanted to see him again. But when I looked again, there was a different image of him in the mirror. He was pushed against a bare white wall, a hand gripping his throat. The hand belonged to me.

I looked back up at the ceiling and the girl in it. I didn’t want to remember Horizons, or what had happened to me since. I looked down at my wrists, at my ankles. No restraints. “Just tell me how to get out.”

“They don’t need restraints to keep us chained up,” she said. “The drugs do that for them. They make us compliant. Willing. But they’re changing us too, I think. I don’t know how yet, but it has to mean something, that your memory of Rachel is broken but your memories of Claire and Jude aren’t.”

“What about my brothers? My parents?” And Noah, I thought but didn’t say.

As I spoke, images of each of them filled the mirrors around me. Joseph was wearing a suit with a pocket square, rolling his eyes at someone. Daniel was laughing in his car, making a face at me from behind the wheel. The image of my mother showed her sitting on her bed, laptop on her lap, her face drawn and worried. My father was sitting up in his hospital bed, eating a contraband slice of pizza. And Noah—

Noah’s eyes were closed, but he was breathing. Sleeping. One of his hands was curled in a loose fist by his face, and his T-shirt, the one with the holes in it, was twisted, exposing a sliver of skin above his boxers. This was how he looked the morning after I told him what was wrong with me. After we figured out what was wrong with us.

I couldn’t stop looking at them--the people I loved, laughing and talking and living behind silvered panes of glass. But as I did, I realized something wasn’t right. I looked closely at Noah. He was sleeping, not moving, which made it easier for me to finally see. His edges were faded. Blurred. I glanced back at the images of my parents, my brothers. Their edges were soft too.

“We’re losing them, I think,” the girl said. “I don’t know why, but I think Kells does, and I think she’s doing it on purpose.”

I was only half-listening. I couldn’t stop staring at the mirrors.

“I’m never going to see them again, am I.” It wasn’t a question.

“My sources say no.”

“You know,” I said to her, “you’re kind of an asshole.”

“Well, that would explain why we’re so popular. Speaking of, Jamie and Stella are here too. In case you were curious.”

“Have you seen them?”

She shook her head. “But Wayne mentioned ‘Roth’ once, and ‘Benicia’ twice, to Kells. And he talked about them in the present tense.”

I swelled with relief. My throat tightened and ached and I felt like I might cry, but no tears came. “What about Noah?” I blurted out the question before I could think about whether I really wanted the answer.

The girl knew. “Kells mentioned him once.”

But my question had gone unanswered. And now I had to know. “Tell me what she said.”

“She said—” The girl didn’t finish her sentence. Something hissed and clicked behind me, and she went still.

“What?” I asked. “What did she say?”

She didn’t answer. When she spoke again, her voice shook. “They’re here,” the girl said, and then she was gone.

*

"The Retribution of Mara Dyer" will be on shelves November 4.