Title: The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer (Mara Dyer #1)
Author: Michelle Hodkin
Published: March, 2012 by Simon Pulse
Thanks: Simon & Schuster, AU
Purchase: The Book Depository
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…
I went into this book with an open mind. I really tried to like it, but there were just so many obstacles that kept getting in my way. With clichés all over the place, it became increasingly clear what kind of book I was in store for. Mara is another one of those characters that thinks she’s pretty smart, but isn’t. Her internal dialogue grated on me early on. Listening to her rationalise her choices to herself, all I could think was, ‘this guy is a douche, you know he’s a douche, you’ve said so yourself. Oh, Mara, why?’
There is, of course, a plot—a mystery surrounding her friends’ deaths—but the book doesn’t tend to focus on them for very long. The bulk of the 400+ page count is devoted to Mara’s snarky/flirtatious back-and-forth with her Mr Wonderful, Noah—the douche with a ‘lilting British accent’. Be prepared to roll your eyes. He treats her like crap, she recognises that he treats her like crap, and has done so to a long line of girls before her, but she throws care to the wind at every possible point of reasoning her brain conjures up. The romance had to be the worst part of the book for me—and I like romance. It was the characters—I didn’t like either of them. Noah was full of himself and a little creepy at times, and Mara, she was just too stupid for her own good.
I think at a certain point while reading this, something clicked in me. Everything that annoyed me about Mara, and the book, it all became humorous. I’d get a kick out of finding the next ridiculous thing she’d get up to or say. There were moments when she’d throw out a big word to sound smart, then a sentence or two later she’d say something completely crude. At one point, she actually used ‘twas’ in a sentence and I just laughed.
As the plot started to become more important in last hundred pages, I found I really didn’t care whether or not the characters got a happy ending. Mara had done so many things that annoyed me, so I was actually enjoying the moments where she got put in her place by her apparent best friend (who refers to himself as her ‘token black Jewish bi friend’.) I was thinking things were going to improve at that point, but he must have pissed Mara off because he was promptly written out of the story in favour of more McDouche time.
I’m sure this book has its fans—I’m just not one of them. I’m not sure if I’ve outgrown this high school angst stuff or what. I was a big Gossip Girl fan back in the day, so it’s possible I would have eaten this up a few years back, but as for now, I just couldn’t find anything likeable about these characters. Give me a copy of Fangirl over this any day.
If you enjoyed Hush, Hush or Fallen, you’re probably going to find something similar in this. It’s got a heavy level of angst and girls falling for bad boys.