The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer (Mara Dyer, #1) by Michelle Hodkin


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The Story: 

“You could start a fire with the heat between you two.”
“You’re mistaking bitter animosity for heartfelt affection.”

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.

My Thoughts:

★★★ 3/5 stars.

I should’ve known this book wasn’t for me when I read the back cover, but I read it anyway.

I read The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer before Halloween in order for me to get myself in the spooky mood. I must admit it did have some creepy parts, but I was left mostly unsatisfied. In my opinion, it wasn’t creepy enough. At least, that’s the image and tone that it perpetuated on the back cover, super creepy and psychological thriller, but I didn’t feel that 100%. Maybe 60%, because again there were weird, dark scenes that I reveled in, but the rest was not.
This also raises the issue of suspense-a common and almost essential literary device in horror books. I didn’t detect much use of suspense. In other words, there wasn’t a build of creepiness. The plot went like this. Everything is relatively fine; relatively fine (considering); still fine; ok, something weird just happened; back to fine to everything is chaotically crazy, what happened? Namely, the suspense wasn’t entirely there or it was not stressed enough in the scenes that it seemed trivial when it occurred.

Another big point that left me frustrated while reading this book was the romance. It fell into the cliche trap. Girl sees the first boy and practically falls for him weeks later. I understand that they’re teenagers; people at this age can fall for each other rather quickly, but then they started to talk about forever (practically). Now, I have an issue with this image. The relationship has problems; these two people aren’t perfect, so I think Hodkin should also emphasize this. And yet, Noah, in the end, was misunderstood because of blah and blah. Everything just seemed too perfect and too fast for them. This doesn’t mirror reality, and I think the author needs to realize this, as well.

I’m not an expert on this part, by any means, but I feel like I need to say something. In regards to the author’s perceptions of mental illness, I was rather in the middle. I think Mara acted realistically as a 16-year-old who is thought to “troubled.”She desperately tries to compensate what she feels likes are her signs of illness, by pretending that she is completely put together or at least emotionally stable. Yet, I think the representation of the mother in this theme was awful. It literally seemed to me that her mom was ready to lock up Mara, and Mara said this as much. Her mother turned out to somehow be a small antagonist. She didn’t seem to think of Mara at all, but of herself. I hope for all the mothers out there who are reading this book don’t absorb Mara’s mother’s habits like this. She was totally unsupportive and, honestly, hurting her child.

I feel like a grouchy old woman while writing this, but there were good points too! It was a very quick and addicting read. Yes, I said. Usually, these kinds of books are addicting. The plot is so easy to sink into, even if you don’t argue with everything that the author is doing. I think I might have appreciated this book in my earlier teen years. My exposure to a wide range of books has left me somewhat as a snob, and I can’t justify YA cliches anymore; they are not for me, but they are for someone.

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