The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer

by Michelle Hodkin

Psychological Thriller YA

Published 9/27/11 by Simon & Schuster

Mara Dyer doesn’t think life can get any stranger than waking up in a hospital with no memory of how she got there.

It can.

She believes there must be more to the accident she can’t remember that killed her friends and left her mysteriously unharmed.

There is.

She doesn’t believe that after everything she’s been through, she can fall in love.

She’s wrong.

Review:

You know how you read some books because blogs have been buzzing like CRAZY about them? The hype has built them up so far in your mind that you expect them to absolutely BLOW YOUR  MIND. And then you read them and things don’t quite add up. They’re nothing like what the reviews said and you don’t understand. They got all of these positive reviews, how could they fall so short?

Listen to me when I tell you that The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer is not one of those books. Because it did blow my mind. And then some.

Mara Dyer is a psychological thriller in that the protagonist, Mara experiences frequent hallucinations and symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Sometimes the hallucinations are gory, which was creeptastic (it’s a word because I say so).

Since the story is told from a 1st person point of view, as a reader, you’re never really sure what is real and what is not real. The use of an unreliable narrator was a total mind-warp. And you know? I liked it. A lot.

Then there are the characters. A problem that I often have in novels is that the protagonist is friends with people who don’t seem to deserve their friendship. Or the familial relations either fall flat or don’t matter to me. But the relationships in this book are different.

Mara has a complicated relationship with her mother. They try to connect with each other but have difficulty after Mara’s experiences. And Mara’s brothers, Daniel and Joseph obviously care about her but also have the sense of humor that seems to be coded into the DNA of the Dyer children.

And the only friend Mara makes upon moving from is Jamie, who is a genius but outcast from the rest of Croyden, the school she’s started at since moving to Miami. Hodkin said at her launch party that Jamie is probably her favorite character outside Mara and I completely understand why. Jamie is a genius, and hilarious, and yes, probably a little bit crazy, but that’s part of his charm.

And Noah. Oh, Noah. You know, I really really wanted to hate Noah. He’s a cocky arrogant asshole who usually treats girls like crap from what we know about him. But I couldn’t because dammit… he was sexy. Like really sexy. And when we see his vulnerable side? Yeah. I couldn’t help liking the d-bag.

Another minor problem I had with this novel was the sexual obstacle that Noah and Mara encounter when we’re nearly at the end of the book. I didn’t see it as an important plot device. It reminded me a various series that I am not a fan of. And there’s almost an insta-love/meant to be angle, but Hodkin manages not to be a cliche with her unique voice.

Speaking of the voice: Mara. I want to be this girl’s best friend in some ways. She’s hilarious at times. And she knows what nom de plume means in high school. Yeah, I could have been best friends with her. You spend the book empathizing with her, worried for her. She’s trying to get over some pretty terrible stuff and she’s not sure if she’s crazy, just has PTSD, or if these things are actually happening.

This review is beginning to get a bit rambly, so I’m going to sum up: I love this book. Go. Buy. It.

Rating: 4.5/5. I adored this book and while I did like Noah, I couldn’t get over how much I wanted to hate him. And the obstacle at the end did really irritate me. Still, great book.