Saturday, October 29, 2011

Review: The Unbecoming Of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin


The Unbecoming Of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin

Series: Mara Dyer (#1)
Pages: 452
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Published: September 27th, 2011
IBSN: 9781442421769

Mara Dyer doesn't think life can get any stranger than waking up in a hospital with no memory of how she got there.  It can.

She believes there must be more to the accident she can't remember that killed her friends and left her mysteriously unharmed.

There is.

She doesn't believe that after everything she's been through, she can fall in love.

She's wrong.

Mara Dyer wakes up in a hospital, curiously unhurt, with no memory of what put her there. Slowly memories return to her, of freak accident in an abandoned building that killed her friends, but not her. Eventually she begins to wonder, what role did I play in it?

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer opens with a prologue set after the plot of the book, basically in which Mara tells us that her story is a confession and a warning. "This is what I remember", she begins with. But the majority of what she remembers isn't important to the mysterious paranormal plot, but her relationship with Noah. I was hanging out for the point where he becomes important, but the hundreds of pages about him felt like a waste by the end.

Much about the writing got on my nerves, particularly the dialogue. The characters spoke with language unnaturally sophisticated for teenagers, and narrated in regular style. It would have been smoother if the 'big words' were saved for narration rather than speech. Also, I was getting the impression constantly that Mara was saying contrived things specifically to segue to some apparently clever remark from Noah. It was as though Noah had things Hodkin wanted him to say, and Mara's purpose in the conversation was the work around that.

On Mara and Noah, their romance, apart from being mostly inconsequential, was irritating. Mara turned to mush whenever he was around and let herself be walked all over. All of her interactions with him were "despite herself", and her whole fascination with him was founded on his good looks.

The whole mysterious paranormal aspect was predictable after not too far in, and the eerie atmosphere wasn't maintained. Only certain moments had an appropriately dark tone. It was clear where Mara was freaked out, but the writing didn't extend to us feeling freaked out as well.

The Unbecoming Of Mara Dyer was mostly disappointing, with it not living up to the hype it received for apparently great mystery and romance. But now that the scene's been set, maybe the sequel will be better, and maybe have a major plot.

I give The Unbecoming Of Mara Dyer a 2 out of 5.