Wednesday, 1 August 2012

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin

Title: The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer
Author: Michelle Hodkin
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Released: March 1st 2012
Pages: 452 (Paperback)
Buy: Amazon

Mara Dyer doesn’t think life can get any stranger. She wakes from a coma in hospital with no memory of how she got there or of the bizarre accident that caused the deaths of her best friends and her boyfriend, yet left her mysteriously unharmed. The doctors suggest that starting over in a new city, a new school, would be good for her and just to let the memories gradually come back on their own.

But Mara’s new start is anything but comforting. She sees the faces of her dead friends everywhere, and when she suddenly begins to see other people’s deaths right before they happen, Mara wonders whether she’s going crazy! And if dealing with all this wasn’t enough, Noah Shaw, the most beautiful boy she has ever seen can’t seem to leave her alone… but as her life unravels around her, Mara can’t help but wonder if Noah has another agenda altogether…

So I've seen this novel around quite a bit, and I've heard really good things about it, so when my school librarian came to Waterstones to pick out some books for the new school year, I persuaded her to get this one - and I was allowed to take it out for the summer. And I have to say, I'm so glad she got it - because this book was pretty great.

The story follows Mara Dyer, your average teenager - until an old lunatic asylum collapses on her, her boyfriend, and two of her friends. So from then on, she keeps seeing her dead friend's everywhere she goes, and keeps having visions of what happened the night in the asylum, even though she can't remember. The plot twists around her new life in Florida, and how she struggles to keep out of a mental hospital herself, whilst still trying to figure out what the heck of going on. The language used and the descriptions were brilliant, and it really set the scene, so it was more like the reader is watching the events unfold rather than simply reading about them. The plot was thick, and it was obvious that Hodkin had thought it through beforehand and knew where it was eventually going to end after the first installment. I only found a few continuity mistakes, such as repetition and the character's losing a bit of their beginning personalities - so for a debut novel, it was pretty brilliant.

I also loved the characters. It was easy to love Mara - yes, she did cry, but it wasn't that hard to understand why - and although she did make a few gullible mistakes, it was super annoying. I also liked the fact that Hodkin didn't go into detail about explaining what Mara looked like, and go on about how she is 'average' when really she is obviously the most gorgeous character in the book - it really annoys me when that happens. Hodkin portrayed Mara as your normal teenage girl, and so it was easy to like and relate to her, despite the differing circumstances. I also adored Noah - Hodkin has a major talent for creating hot character's. From her descriptions, I could almost see him in my mind's eye, and I found that I really enjoyed the chapters of Noah and Mara's dancing around each other - it was packed to the brim with tension, and it was difficult not to love their coupling.

However, I was disappointed with a few things, which is why I'm not giving it a full five stars. Mostly, it is to do with Noah - although I thought he was brilliant, towards the end, his beginning arrogant and cocky personality dwindled - he became quite sensative, and loving and kind, and he just wasn't like that to begin with. I wanted that continuation, and although I wouldn't have minded him slowly becoming this sensetive guy, it just happened too quickly for me. I was also annoyed at how the plot seemed so carefully thought out, yet halfway through my mind was reeling - I honestly had no clue what was going on. And although I'm trying to avoid spoilers, I didn't know who was killed, or who was the kidnapper, or what was real and what was just Mara's imagination. It got very confusing, which I'm sure was the point, but it was a bit over the top so that I just couldn't follow it. But those were the books only downfalls.

Altogether, I really enjoyed this novel, and whilst some parts I didn't particularly agree with and would have liked to see some things done differently, it was a really good, easy read, with an addictive plotline and great characters. Roll on The Evolution of Mara Dyer!
Rating: 4/5

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