Michelle Hodkin The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer
464 pp. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers 2011
Interest: 2011 Debut Author
Source: ARC received from publisher
Release Date: September 27, 2011
Summary (From Goodreads):
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.
This debut has received a ton of hype in the past few months and it completely lives up to the hype. I absolutely devoured this story; I couldn’t put it down. I stayed up late and read until my eyes were so heavy I had to close them, then woke up early enough to pick it right back up and finish it (thank goodness for the weekends!). Michelle Hodkin is most certainly an author to watch because she not only weaves an engrossing tale, but she incorporates the perfect mix of mystery, snark, romance and humor–extra emphasis on mystery.
Michelle Hodkin hooks us with an eerie letter from our main character, Mara Dyer, only Mara says “My name is not Mara Dyer, but my lawyer told me I had to choose something. A pseudonym.” The letter goes on to mention murders and warning us so we’re not next. Talk about grabbing our attention, right?! The thing is, now that I’m done reading this book, I’m wondering what her name really is because everyone calls her Mara. This is part of what I love most about The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer–the mystery. I know readers are calling this paranormal, but I’d rather call it magical realism or something. There are some strange things happening to and around Mara, many of which we don’t fully understand until the end or are still left wondering about until the next book. Normally I prefer an ending that leaves the book feeling like it could be a stand alone, even in a series, but this ending worked for me. Was I confused and did I want answers immediately? Yes. But the ending kept me thinking for days. I let one of my students borrow my ARC so I could discuss it with someone. An ending like that is worth the mystery and me eagerly waiting for the second book, even though the first hasn’t even officially released.
I’m a big fan of the characters in The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer. Mara Dyer isn’t a reliable narrator, but she’s snarky, mysterious and just as confused as I was. I love that I, as a reader, am on the same page as Mara when it comes to the confusion over everything. She doesn’t remember much of the accident when her friends died and she lived. She and her family move to Florida to get away from everything which is when life gets a little weird for Mara. This is also when she meets Noah, who I adore. Oddly enough, some of the strange events happen whenever Noah is around. There’s something unique between these two that I can’t wait to learn more about in the second book. At first I didn’t think I was going to like Noah because he came off as the typical bad boy. That’s not the case. Just like Mara, there are some complex layers to Noah’s character that make him stand out from the rest of the paranormal genre love interests.
Unfortunately, it’s almost impossible to write a review for The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer without giving away major plot points. There are scenes with dogs, alligators, a gun, and a guy named Jude I want to talk about. But if I do, you’d be mad at me because I’d give away all the good parts, or at least some of them. This is a book that needs you to suspend your disbelief, and if you can then you’re sure to enjoy it. I flat out love it. I don’t say this very often, but I would re-read this debut because it’s that good and I want the answers to my questions. I definitely recommend getting yourself a copy, and make sure a friend reads it as well so you can try to work out the details and mystery to Mara’s story.