Title: The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer
Author: Michelle Hodkin
Publication Date: September 27, 2011
Publisher: Simon and Schuster Children’s Publishing
Summary: 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.
I’ve been putting this one off for years, this shining example of a sappy teen romance hidden behind a pretty cover and the promise of paranormal mystery. I mean, just look at how awesome and kind of spooky that cover is. It holds so much promise of a good, creepy, mysterious book about a girl that’s lost and trying to find herself, all while being plagued by visions of her dead friends. Unfortunately, a majority of what we get is swoony insta-love between Mara and smoking hot British sex bomb Noah Shaw.
Mara was an okay character. She is obviously messed up, constantly seeing her dead friends, losing chunks of time, potentially killing people, you know, everyday girl problems. That and her obsession, and I mean obsession, with Noah. My problem was that I just found her kind of floppy. Like a dead fish. I felt like she is the kind of girl that sighs a lot and just says “okay” in a semi depressed voice any time someone asks her to do something. Now obviously I have no idea what waking up with no memory and my friends dead feels like, so maybe I’m being harsh. But she was so back and forth on everything. She is just a quiet artsy girl with no friends, then suddenly she is standing up to the bully teacher and kids are applauding for her as she leaves the class. One second she was strong and wanting to find out what happened, the next she was downing anti-psychotic pills like there was no tomorrow. She was going to ignore Noah Shaw and he was so annoying, then suddenly she changes her mind and is all over him. Flop, flop, flop, she just went back and forth. And on top of that, I absolutely HATED her at the end. I’m trying to avoid spoilers here but she just completely loses all reason and makes the most idiotic decision of all time and I never wanted to punch someone in the face so bad.
The other thing about Mara, when I read that her mom was Indian, I was excited, thinking there was going to be some interesting diversity in this book. But conveniently enough, she got her father’s pale skin tone and the most we hear about her mother’s different culture is that she cooks curry for dinner one night and Mara goes digging through her mom’s closest for a sari for a costume party she is going to. And doesn’t even end up wearing it. What a disappointment.
Noah Shaw was exactly what you would expect him to be. Super hawt, supposedly slept with every girl in the school, but suddenly along comes Mara to bring out the big protective softy in him. He smokes (yuck!) but it’s okay because he looks super sexy when he does it, he is super rich with daddy issues, super arrogant and self confident, a mega genius, constantly makes snarky comments with his smoldering British accent, and he beats people up for being mean to Mara. Everyone’s dream guy, right? But I have to admit, he honestly wasn’t all bad. At no point was he really giving Mara the cold shoulder or flirting with other girls, or hey, he actually wasn’t trying to kill her. Luckily, he managed to avoid those cliches. And even though I hated the fact that he was just another bullshit YA love interest, I couldn’t help but admit that he had a certain charm I usually don’t get from characters like him. I’ve been up all night ponder just what it is about Noah Shaw that was better than the rest, and I honestly couldn’t tell you.
There of course has to be a super mean, ultra bitchy popular chick, spat forth from the depths of hell itself, with the sole purpose to humiliate Mara and ruin her life, all while trying to do the dirty with Noah. I am beyond sick and tired of this annoying stereotype being thrust into books like these. I honestly don’t believe that there are apparently hundreds of girls roaming around that treat the new kids like absolute shit and make it their personal goal to give them hell, all within the first few seconds of meeting them. I have never in my life encountered a person like this. I mean, if the antagonist did something to warrant hatred, I could maybe roll with that. But when the mean girl is just absolutely horrible, before they even learn the person’s name, it makes no sense to me. I don’t understand the need to throw in a character like this, but it constantly ruins books for me. One top of it, in this book there was a psycho teacher that was out to get Mara too, for absolutely no reason.
When it comes to the plot line, there is of course, a lot of time dedicated to the romance. The mystery surrounding Mara and the night her friends died is actually interesting, it just didn’t get much time to shine in the book. Also, there were some really fast paced, kind of random parts thrown in that you read, don’t quite understand, read again, then scratch your head in a confused way, trying to figure out what just happened. For those of you that have read this, I’m talking about the kidnapping part and the voodoo priest part. The big secret about Mara is pretty predictable, the mystery with Noah was very convenient and… wait, wait, WAIT… Speaking of convenient, holy shit, (slight spoiler ahead) I had to call bullshit on one massive thing. So Mara’s family decides to move after the accident, for a change of scenery to help Mara cope. So they just move to some random place in Florida and on Mara’s first day of school, she runs into Noah who looks at her like he knows her. Because he heard her voice once in his head and they are mysterious connected, of course. BUT HOLD ON. Would someone care to explain to me, how magically, out of all the places to move, her parents pick the very city that Noah lives, and conveniently enough, Mara’s mom is a snob so they have to go to some private school. Where Noah just so happens to also be. NO WAY. That is not even semi-believable.
I’ve spent a lot of time ranting about the bad, but now there isn’t much good for me to say.The writing style wasn’t bad, and I laughed a few times during this book. I know a lot of people have problems with guys like Noah making pervy and snarky jokes or comments all the time, but I find them funny. Most of my friends are guys, and I promise you, that’s how they actually are. Plus I have a huge soft spot for Jace from The Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare, which if you’ve read those, you know he is the king of snark. So I’m not even ashamed to admit that I did find Noah’s inappropriate comments amusing at times. Mara’s brothers were okay through the book, until I realized that they were both weird robots and accepting of everything, never questioning a single thing. So actually, I guess they weren’t necessarily a good aspect of the book. It was still a quick, easy, light read, it just had nothing to help it stand out from every other YA romance book out there. At least there wasn’t a love triangle.