The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer was one I really wanted to knock off my 2014 Goals list (which I really need to get cracking on), so when it lowered quite a bit in price (only $1.99), I snagged it. The concept of it was a bit unclear based on the description, but it sounded interesting enough to try it out.
Author: Michelle Hodkin
Publication Date: September 27, 2011
Mara Dyer is a 17 year old girl who wakes up in a hospital to discover she is the only survivor of a building collapse that took the lives of her two closest friends and boyfriend. She has no memory of the events leading up to the collapse, including how she came to be there. She experiences severe PTSD after her release from the hospital due to her feelings of survivor’s guilt, prompting her and her family to pack up and move to Florida for a fresh start. Once there, she begins to see that she has what appear to be some very disturbing abilities. After she meets Noah, the popular British classmate with a reputation for breaking hearts, she realizes that he may be the only one who can help her understand her new powers. With him, she sets out to discover what she can do, and whether she can use those powers for good or if they have a more sinister purpose.
What I Liked:
1. The different twist on paranormal was done really well. There was no way (for me) to really guess what was fueling Mara’s powers and how Noah was connected to them, and once more came to light it indicated a really great story would be continued in the next two books.
2. The love between Noah and Mara wasn’t immediate. It took a little while for them to actually get together, although he pushed it from the start. Mara, while definitely attracted to Noah, held him off because of his reputation and her past, which at least indicated some level of common sense on her part. She didn’t automatically assume he was “different” with her.
3. The minor things. I liked that the books Mara was into weren’t the old-school classics, like in so many other books. She’s caught reading Lolita, which, while not exactly a new release, it’s also not centuries old. Also, Hodkin pulls off the sibling aspect well. Usually protagonists are only children, or have siblings that are relatively absent. Daniel and Joseph were very present in the book and were integral to the story, giving Mara a home life that consisted more than absent or clueless parents. The sporadic references to Harry Potter and LOTR were also a plus.
4. The language was pretty typical for teenagers. Sexual innuendoes, raunchy jokes, etc. were included in the dialogue, which made the characters a bit more believable. I know not all teenagers have potty-mouths, and foul language does not a good book make, but when you walk down the hall in a high school, you’ll hear plenty of things that could hardly be considered intellectual conversation.
What I Didn’t Like:
1. The typical YA romance formula was followed. Mara shows up on her first day of school dressed like a bum, gets into it with the prettiest girl in school, becomes BFFs with a friendly nice guy, embarrassed herself, and makes googly eyes with the hottest guy in school. Who also happens to be British. Not to mention the “warm current” she feels when their hands brush. Come on now.
2. Ok, Mom, super smart lady that you are. Your daughter has been prescribed antipsychotics and you feel the best time for her to take her first pill is as she’s walking out the door for a date? With a boy you just met? I’m gonna go ahead and say that’s probably not the best idea.
3. The whole missing-brother thing was really random. I’m still not entirely sure of the purpose of it. I thought it would be the climax to the book, and even that would’ve been odd because there was still so much unknown about Mara. I get that the author was trying to reveal something about Mara and Noah (kind of), but there wasn’t really enough foreshadowing to indicate that something big would be revealed.
4. Once Mara discovered what her powers allowed her to do, she didn’t really attempt to control them. She knew that she could if she really wanted to, but she let her emotions get in the way of learning to use or control them to keep herself from falling apart. That cast her in a pretty negative light in my eyes.
All in all this was an enjoyable book. The surprising cliffhanger at the end has me really itching to read the second book, so I’ll likely have that one up for review soon, too.
Now, on to check a few more books off of my goals list!