Author: Michelle Hodkin (author website)
Release Date: Feb. 1st Release by Simon & Schuster Australia
Age Group: Young Adult
Genre: Not telling ;) Let's say Mystery
I’m in shock. The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer has nearly left me with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Is Post Unbreafreakinglievable Book Disorder a thing? Well. Mara Dyer is a rare beastie indeed. Twisty, dark and haunting, Michelle Hodkin’s remarkable debut left me guessing from the very beginning, to the very end, and long, long past that.
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’m not joking about the state Mara Dyer left me in. Shock is the only word for it. Or perhaps a quivering ball of nerves. I wish you could have seen my face as I read the final chapter of the book. A tap-dancing tortoise bursting into my living room to the tune of Hey Ya! could not have elicited as strong a response. Hauntingly reminiscent of a teenage Shutter Island, Mara Dyer has garnered a lot of gushing reviews. It deserves them all.
MaraWe join Mara as she wakes in a hospital room. She doesn’t know where, how or why, and so, from the very beginning, we’re thrown in the deep end along with her. Mara’s friends are dead in an accident she doesn’t remember, but miraculously survived. Her world’s turned upside down, and she’s now suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). To pre-empt her psychologist mother having her put in a residential care program, Mara herself suggests they move. A fresh start. Move from the memories and shocking events. And so, before we know it, we find ourselves in Florida along with Mara.
Mara is... sick. Truly. Suffering the effects of her PTSD, she experiences waking dreams and hallucinations. She’s haunted by the memories—or perhaps ghosts—of her dead friends. As the book blurs from dreams to reality and back again, the narrative flows so smoothly, you’re given the sense of hallucinating right along with her. Mara is unravelling, and struggling, and there’s this eerie feeling of menace—of being watched—hanging over her throughout the book. My oh my is she a splendid protagonist though. Intelligent and wry, the book sparkles with Mara’s wit and humour, despite it’s incredibly heavy subject and increasingly dark tone. Despite Mara’s emotional and psychological fragility, she’s brave, stoic, and desperately trying to play with the cards she’s been dealt. She’s compelling, and her, well, unbecoming is fascinating and frightening.
Nearest and DearestAs you’d hope with a book named after her, Mara is extraordinary. Layered, nuanced, unpredictable, but always believable. I loved this. But one of the brightest lights in the story are Mara’s friends and family. From Mara’s lone new friend at high school, Jamie, to her mother, amazing older brother (I WANT Daniel as my older brother!) and adorable and hilarious younger brother, Joseph, there is a cast of supportive, well rounded characters in this book. And they ground it. Whether endearing or contemptible school bullies, I was engaged, I cared.
Noah. Effing. Shaw.You’ve no doubt heard about Noah Shaw at this point. Perhaps even warned.
Mara was, and it didn’t help. It didn’t work for me, either.
Gorgeous. British. Badboy.The chemistry between Noah and Mara is electric, and the teasing and banter between the two is delicious. But this is not the dreaded insta-love. There is an instant flirtation, yes, but that’s it. As Noah carefully insinuates himself in to Mara’s life, and the two get to know each other, we watch another part of Mara unravel... but in a good way. Oh Noah was a delight. Layered, cheeky, reckless, beautiful, and just as broken as Mara in his own way, Noah has secrets of his own—just as big as Mara’s. And that’s... pretty huge.
A Riddle Wrapped in a Mystery Inside an EnigmaOh my word Mara Dyer kept me guessing to the last page. Every time I thought I’d figured a mystery out or gathered a clue, it blew up or slipped away. Masterfully crafted and impossible to pin down, the mystery is far larger than one book, or, it would seem, one broken girl. As Hodkin carefully offers ephemeral clues and small scraps of information, she deliberately muddies the waters. For every question answered, she creates several more bigger, trickier, even more terrifying. The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer is clearly the first in a series, and I’m unbelievably excited and terrified to see where this goes. There is a bigger game being played in Mara Dyer... and I still have no idea what it is.
The Verdict:Gathering my scattered thoughts enough to create a meaningful sentence renders this the hardest review I’ve ever had to write. It left me speechless. Guys, that doesn’t happen often. Getting better and better as it goes along, it’s a slow build from strange to stranger to ‘OH MY GOD WHAT’S GOING AND HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO LIVE OR BREATH OR FUNCTION WITHOUT MOREMOREMORE RIGHT NOW.’ The mystery within its pages had me guessing and grasping at straws, and the ending—well, the entirety—has left me in shock. I raced through its pages with my heart racing, and its haunting me now it’s over. Confusing, disturbing, dark and twisted, The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer is extraordinary. It should come with a warning: This book will mess with your mind.
Books in This Series
- The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer (February 2012)
- The Evolution of Mara Dyer (slated for 2012/2013 release)