Tuesday, September 25, 2012
The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin
Release Date: September 27, 2011
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing
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.
She’s wrong.(courtesy of Goodreads)
The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer is one of those books that sweeps you away. It is not a perfect book, but while you're reading it, you are enveloped in the story and the characters. The book is confusing in the way that you just have to keep reading to figure out what's going on. I suppose "compelling" would be the more complimentary term.
Mara is suffering from amnesia after a horrible accident that killed her best friend and several other people. Her family moved to Miami in hopes of starting a new life. The reader is just as confused as Mara is about the "accident." We learn bits and pieces of that night over the course of the book until it all makes terrifying sense.
Our heroine Mara is immediately relatable. Looking back, however, her character is as disturbing as it is likable. She disarms us with her snarky, dark humor and her fierce love for her brothers and eventually Noah. Yet she also has quite an anger problem and can be ruled by jealousy. Sometimes, her humor, while good for lightening the tension, almost felt inappropriate given the serious plot elements. Nevertheless, her voice quickly sucked me in and I rooted for her throughout the entire book. I love her inner strength and desperately want her to be able to rise above the many challenges that will be thrown at her in this series.
And then there's Noah... Sexy, arrogant, rich, strong, smart, witty, protective, devoted, romantic. Is he realistic? Not in the least. But I only loved him more for it. Their relationship isn't insta-love, but it somehow felt that way to me, because there was something that drew them to each other. I did have to roll my eyes at the overplayed trope of supposed player who has never really let his guard down until he meets this incredible girl. But the eye-rolling had to wait until I finished wiping the Noah drool from my mouth.
I love the twistiness of the plot. Paranormal romance is probably the genre that best fits this novel, but it is just as much a psychological thriller. We know from the moment the book begins that there are a lot of freaky things going on, but it just gets more and more disturbing. Every character is playing a dangerous role. I love how Michelle was able to make inconsequential plot elements seem like part of something much larger. The book tossed me in around in fierce winds. Unlike many books, I don't have any idea where this series is going to go. However, there's a fine line between disturbing crazy and silly crazy. In a few instances, the book started to veer into soap opera dramatics. But for the most part, the book felt believable no matter how freaky the story line.
The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer does not entirely hold up to close scrutiny when looking back at the book. However, it is a story meant to sheer haunted house thriller pleasure. While you're reading it, you'll be glued to your pages by twists and turns and equally by the hot romance. I definitely recommend this book.