Enticed by the well produced trailer, and hype about it in the YA world, I knew I had to purchase a copy of The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer. You might have seen my post "The Unbecoming of Me" a while back. If not, check it out - it includes the trailer and ominous letter from the beginning of the book.
Mara Dyer believes life can’t 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 strangely unharmed.
She doesn’t believe that after everything she’s been through, she can fall in love.
My feelings towards The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer are somewhat divided: certain aspects indulged my flare for young adult drama, whereas other aspects left me feeling a bit muddled.
The premise of Mara Dyer separates it from the others in the current market, pitching a psychological thriller with an apparently wicked romance. It depicts teenager Mara Dyer's descent into a PTSD induced psychosis / she is losing her marbles.
The novel continuously raises questions of what is real, and what is not; putting you in the same position as the protagonist. However, I found the self-doubting approach that was used to be confusing at times. Maybe I was just distracted? Tired? Whatever the cause, it was odd for me to be slightly at sea during some points. On a similar tone, I found the time span of the novel to be interesting. While reading, I didn't feel a sense of time, it seemed as if the whole thing was taking place in a suspended reality; maybe because of Mara's delusions, or perhaps the isolation of the characters [Noah & Mara] in their own little bubble.
While mentioning characters, there are two things which I must address in bullet points; clichés, and a certain Mr. Noah Shaw.
1. Clichés: I read a review at "Rhapsody in Books Weblog" and a part of the review just stuck with me. It makes complete sense, so thus I will quote it:
"You’ve got some “Blair Witch Project,” some “I Know What You Did Last Summer,” some standard scary tropes like “creepy locale,” “foreshadowing event,” “freaky doll” and “shocking secret villain” along with the usual teen triangle tropes like “hot sexy guy,” “insouciant girl,” “mean jealous girl,” “crazy jealous guy, and “repressed adolescent passion.” Taken together and mashed up with a few more oddball trope…"
2. Noah: There has been such talk about Noah, almost every review that I read has at least a mention of him - he seems to be as vital to the plot as Mara. [Maybe it should be called 'The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer & Noah Shaw'?] There has been love him or hate him reactions. Mr Shaw seems to be viewed as either a swoony bad boy, a clichéd tool, annoying, or just extremely desirable. I find myself sitting on the fence: unable to decide what I think of him. I think that is the point though, he has different facets to his personality, and it is up to Mara to discover what truly lurks beneath. [Please forgive the use of 'what lurks beneath'!]
This is Hodkin's debut, and is clearly the first part in a series. If you have not yet read 'The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer', I suggest you wait a while. To quote from the website:
"Mara's story begins with The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer and continues in the sequel, The Evolution of Mara Dyer. The third book in the trilogy, The Retribution of Mara Dyer, will be out in Fall 2013."
I suggest this because of the major cliffhanger at the end of book 1, and the questions that are raised and are not answered [apparently] until book 2 [and for some, most likely book 3].
Overall, I enjoyed 'The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer'. It was a quick read, keeping me hooked - even though it was 452 pages! - and intrigued to see where it would go.
I can't wait to read book 2, and I would recommend it for females aged 13+. If you have any questions or thoughts, please comment below!
P.S. You can read chapter 1 here
P.P.S. Here are some other reviews: