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The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer (The Mara Dyer Trilogy) Hardcover – September 27, 2011
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"Haunting and dreamlike, the intrigue and romance of Mara Dyer will inescapably draw you in." --Cassandra Clare, author of the New York Times bestselling Mortal Instruments series
"The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer strikes a rare balance of darkly funny, deliciously creepy and genuinely thoughtful. One minute I was laughing out loud, and the next, I was so scared I wanted to turn on all the lights and hide under the covers. Michelle Hodkin’s talent and range are obvious, from her chilling descriptions to romantic scenes that almost crackled on the page. I’ve never read anything quite like it."--Veronica Roth, New York Times bestselling author of Divergent
"A clever, captivating thriller, The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer is perfect for those (like me) who like their heroes dark, their heroines dangerous, and their romances seriously twisted."
--Kirsten Miller, New York Times bestselling author of The Eternal Ones
"WOW. Michelle Hodkin's debut will keep you guessing until the last page--and long after."
--Beth Revis, New York Times bestselling author of Across the Unviverse
"As spooky and twisty as it is lyrical and beautiful, The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer grabbed me and wouldn't let go. Read this one with the lights on." --Rachel Hawkins, New York Times bestselling author of Demonglass
About the Author
Michelle Hodkin grew up in South Florida, went to college in New York, and studied law in Michigan. When she isn't writing, she can usually be found prying strange objects from the jaws of one of her three pets. The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer is her first novel. You can visit her online at michellehodkin.com.
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This book was really promising, and I had the highest of expectations. Alas, they were not met.
I am actually disappointed that I didn’t love this book, but other than the creep factor, which was very well done, it was hard for me to connect with the characters and the story was a tad confusing.
This book has more of a contemporary feel with some added paranormal elements, than a paranormal thriller. It’s the story of a girl who survived an awful accident and is now trying to put her life back together. She worries about school, grades, college resumes and boys, but her life is more complicated than any normal girl because of the paranormal sightings she’s having. She can see her dead friends everywhere, and can also see a person’s death before it happens. Sounds really cool, huh?
I would love if the story would’ve simply focused on the horrible things that were happening to Mara and trying to decipher what was going on. I loved that part, and the visions and trying to remember. Very well done! But there were some crazy subplots that deviated the attention to not so important things happening. Like Noah Shaw.
The only thing I like about that boy is his amazing library. He is a presumptuous jerk who thinks he is the biggest thing ever. I couldn’t get pass the fact he was the ultimate playboy and never really offered a reasonable explanation for his behaviour, so it was hard for me to understand why Mara liked him. He was supposedly charming, but I just couldn’t trust this guy.
There is also a confusing subplot involving a kidnapper, which didn’t bother me much but was somewhat confusing. It’s supposed to be there to give us some information, but that subplot was never tied up. Maybe we get to learn a bit more about it in the next books.
I did appreciate that Mara’s family was so close and caring. They showed the true signs of a committed and supporting family. I loved that her mum was so worried (she certainly had reasons to), and that her brothers were so sympathizing with her cause.
Overall, the main plot of this story was very good, and it definitely got me engaged with the story enough that I want to keep on reading this series. But the different subplots that surround the main plot were confusing and distracting, which lessened my enjoyment of this book.
Seriously, doesn’t that sound awesome? Couple that hook with the stunning cover, and it’s clear why people would want to read this book. So I picked up a copy when the Kindle edition was on sale—as first parts of a series are often sold at a discounted price—and finally got around to reading it.
There really is a lot to enjoy in this book. The set-up is fantastic. Her hallucinations—or whatever they may be—are definitely chilling. Some of the other weird things that happen around her add to the mystery. But not everything else worked for me. Let’s itemize here, doing the best I can to avoid spoilers.
After she’s released from the hospital, her family packs up and moves from Rhode Island to Florida. Maybe a new change of scene will help with Mara’s PTSD and help jog her memories. Conveniently, her father’s a successful defense lawyer and gets a job in Miami defending an unsavory character who committed some pretty high-profile crime. This was the first thing that bothered me because it just happened, seemingly without any fuss from the rest of Mara’s family, particularly her two brothers, one of which is a senior in high school.
What bothers me more about this relocation is that it makes Mara the new girl at school—and not just any school, but a private school filled with snotty, rich one-dimensional characters who all seem to despise her. Well, almost all of them, with the exception of Jamie, the black, bisexual, Jewish boy who befriends her. Though Mara’s mother is of Indian descent, talk about wrapping up most of the book’s diversity into one character. Even worse, is that Jamie is removed from the story and never heard from again.
Then there’s Noah Shaw, the perfect, British, perfect, rich, perfect, handsome, perfect, smart, cocky, perfect man-whore who sets his sights on Mara, much to the chagrin of many of the other girls that he’s slept with and dumped at this school. A little too much perfection renders him somewhat unbelievable. Of course, Mara alternates between hating him and being interested in him. Ultimately, the reason he’s so adamant about dating her is revealed, and within the world of the story, it actually makes a lot of sense. But there’s a lot of wheel-spinning in their relationship, and after a big reveal near the end, there’s a little too much will-they/won’t-they stay together questioning.
I’ve mentioned there’s a big reveal; it’s when Mara fully remembers what happened at the asylum. It’s kinda dark, I didn’t see it coming, and I absolutely loved it. It connects really nicely with the memories that are teased out along the way and with some of the other gruesome occurrences that Mara encounters. It also connects very well with why Noah’s so obsessed with her. There’s a subplot regarding her family and her father’s client that also gets connected into this with some success. The unexpected resolution of all this shows Mara’s growth as a character, but it leads into a whopper of a cliffhanger with a final line that made my jaw drop.
I’ll probably read part two, The Evolution of Mara Dyer, eventually, but I don’t feel like I need or want to read it right away.
There’s some great suspense and chills at times in this book, and its underlying mystery has an amazing resolution, enough to earn about 4.5 stars. However, there’s a lack of fully believable characters, particularly Noah. Even Mara waffles and wavers between character types. Their relationship is less romantic and fluctuates between creepy and illogical. These flaws are unbecoming in the 2.5-star range. So I’m going with an average and giving The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer THREE AND A HALF STARS.