The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer
By Michelle Hodkin
Mara Dyer doesn’t think life can get any stranger than waking up in a hospital with no memory of how she got there.
She believes there must be more to the accident she can’t remember that killed her friends and left her mysteriously unharmed.
She doesn’t believe that after everything she’s been through, she can fall in love.
My Thoughts: This book caught my attention from the very first sentence. It was easy to connect with Mara (or whatever her name really is) from the start. In the beginning Mara is just your average teenager, afraid of losing her best friend to the new girl in town, crushing on new girl’s brother, and doing her best to go along with what her friends want her to do. Then new girl, Claire, pulls out the ouija board, so you know that some crazy Captain Howdy poo is about to go down.
Okay, raise your hand and give yourself a point if you got the Exorcist reference.
Anyway the spooky spirits running the board let Mara’s bff know that Mara will be responsible for her death. Cut to some months later and Mara is the only survivor of some accident that killed her best friend, third wheel Claire and Mara’s boyfriend- Claire’s brother. Mara starts off with no memory of the accident.
Mara’s family moves to Florida in hopes of a new start, and a last ditched attempt to keep Mara out of the nut house since she’s been seeing things and having freak outs since the accident. Just a quick word on the Dyer family- they were one of my favorite parts of the book. Not the parents so much, but Mara’s older and younger brothers are pretty awesome. Daniel, despite being on the fast track to Ivy League, does his best to look out for Mara and to help run interference with Mama Bear Dyer, and her little brother is pretty cool, and both brothers take an immediate liking to Noah (more on him later). Overall the Dyer family is pretty normal, although a bit more closer and loving than you see in most YA books.
So, Mara is either being haunted by the ghosts of her friends, seeing visions of death, killing people with her mind, or losing her mind. Or perhaps all of these things at once. We don’t know as the reader, and Mara certainly doesn’t know. She’s busy trying to keep her mom from putting her in a mental hospital. Frankly, if I were going through what Mara goes through, I’d welcome a stay somewhere nice, clean and quiet. Think of all the reading I could get done in a mental health facility! Weirdly, Mara does not seem to think of that, but it could be because she’s all artsy, and not much of a book worm. The point is, Mara has a lot on her plate, but then dishy Noah shows up and complicates some already complicated shiz.
Noah, sigh. Noah is British and attractive (I guess, in that underfed emo way that seems so popular in YA- please, teen girls like muscles too- Team Jacob, remember? Although, I’m Team Edward, the sparkly one was much more muscled in the books and didn’t need spray on abs like a certain actor I could name but won’t), and comes complete with a bad boy reputation. But of course, there’s more to Noah than the rumors, and there’s something about Mara that attracts him despite the fact that he usually goes through girls like so many dirty gym socks. Just joking, everyone knows boys just re-use the same smelly socks over and over again until they disintegrate.
Once Noah is in her orbit, Mara’s world goes from slightly nuts to crazy town. And it turns out that Noah might know more about what’s going on with Mara than she does. And that is why this book is so long. I read this book as part of an ARC tour and I was literally reading the last 20 pages outside the post office, slurping down my Starbucks. There is a lot going on in this book, and it should be no surprise to you that there’s more books to come. Some of the questions raised in the beginning of the book are partially answered, but there’s still a lot of What? What! questions left at the end. Normally this frustrates me. Every chapter seemed to bring new crazy questions to table. There are a lot of plots- the mean queen at school who lusts after Noah and targets Mara and her one new friend at school, Mr. Dyer’s murder case, the mysterious deaths of people who just coincidentally got Mara angry, the fact that she keeps seeing her dead friends in mirrors and just around town (seriously what is it about mirrors and horror stories? Why are they so scary? I don’t know, but I can’t look in the bathroom mirror until the lights are on), mysterious Noah, and the possibility that Mara is losing her mind, all of this and more in just the first book! It’s enough to drive me crazy!
But it didn’t, possibly because I really enjoyed the story and the characters. The writing was pretty good, although because I read the ARC I did notice a few mistakes which I’m sure are worked out in the official release. I want to know more about Mara Dyer and, yes, even the cliched anti-hero, Noah (who besides the sexy British accent and slut puppy reputation is also extremely wealthy. Feel free to roll your eyes and fall in love with him anyway, because he’s secretly sweet and a good foil to Mara). I was expecting a more complete first novel, because I really thought it was a stand alone book. I really have to stop assuming that, especially in YA books. But while some YA series feel like just one simple idea painfully stretched over three or more books, The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer is bursting with plot that will easily fill up more books. It reminds me of why I like series in the first place- more time to spend with the characters.
I realize this review is a bit all over the place, but there is a lot to take in, and it’s not just the simple “girl survives accident, girl thinks she’s crazy, girl meets good bad-boy” story. The ending leaves you with quite a cliff hanger, and it’d definitely going to make you want to keep reading. Here’s hoping Michelle Hodkin’s a fast writer!
The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer gets a Midnight Book Rating of:
It’s not perfect, but it’s a page turner despite it’s hefty size!
*I read this book through Around The World ARC tours, but all opinions, snark and wit are my own and were not influenced by receiving (briefly at least since it’s a tour and the point is to send it on to the next blogger) a copy of the book.