May 1, 2015

Review: The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin

Thinking something does not make it true. Wanting something does not make it real.

The Book Rest - YA Book Review - The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle HodkinTitle: The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer
Author: Michelle Hodkin
Genre: Paranormal YA
Rating: A-
Recommended For: Fans of dark YA
Source: Library copy

One-sentence review: This is by far one of the most bizarre books I've ever read and the only book that I've ever been on the fence about for so long without being able to put the book down.

TBR It: Goodreads
Buy It: Amazon

This book is crazy. I had heard about it for so long and had so many assumptions about it even though the synopsis is so cryptic. Almost everyone I know who has read it raves about it, so I finally found the time to begin this series. And now, I don't even know what to say!

Michelle Hodkin's bizarre YA series starts with a letter from Mara Dyer. She explains that she doesn't even know her name, so she's selecting this one and telling her story. And what a story she tells: Mara wakes up in the hospital after a terribly tragic accident in which 3 of her friends (including her boyfriend) are killed in a building collapse. Somehow Mara survives with almost no harm done to her except for what appears to be a nasty case of PTSD. Despite moving out of state to escape the location of the tragedy, Mara sees the ghosts of her friends. She also has strange experiences with other people around her dying. And she knows that if she tells her mom, who happens to be a mental health professional herself, she'll have Mara committed. At her new school Mara catches the eye of the school's gorgeous rebel and tries her best to keep her cool so he doesn't see her crazy. But there's only so much Mara can handle and things only continue growing more insane.

The question I found myself asking throughout most of this book is, "What is the genre?!" Is this a paranormal book? Is it fantasy? Is Mara truly suffering from PTSD making this contemporary YA? I have never felt so confused throughout so much of a book and yet not considered quitting, which goes to show how well written this novel truly is. Even though I was dying to know if Mara's visions were in her mind or actually happening, it made this book so exciting to not know. Which is why, of course, I'm not telling you.

Despite all the crazy happenings in Mara's life that led me to believe this book was either paranormal or she was truly crazy, there was also a very teen-romance phase between Mara and Noah, the generally boring bad boy trope. While I despise the bad-boy-falls-for-nobody-girl-for-no-good-reason thing, Hodkin makes this work somehow. And at the conclusion of the book you'll be happy you trusted her. Again, I can't explain myself without spoiling the reading experience, but trust me that it truly is an experience.

It's both impressive and unnerving how often this book fades into different things. From a book about extreme PTSD to a cliche contemporary romance and then feeling like a totally different book altogether, this is one of the weirdest good books I've read. It's unknown if we can trust Mara as a narrator throughout this entire book. She's all but diagnosed clinically insane and yet I had to keep reading. Similarly, Noah can't necessarily be relied upon to be an honest character either. I just hope that the end of this series is worth all of the acts of faith the push me to keep reading.

I am still confused about the letter at the beginning of the book and hope it also has a good pay out. If Mara Dyer doesn't know who she is but she's telling her story, why does she reference so many people who could corroborate her story, like her family members? I can't see why that letter was left in place, even if it was gimmicky, without some greater purpose. I really look forward to this series clicking together the way the final quarter of this book did. It's amazing how much clarity a small portion of a book can give!

1 comment:

  1. I read the series last year and it was NOT what I was expecting either, but I loved it because it was so unlike anything I had read before. You're absolutely right about how it's hard to determine what genre to place it in, and after finishing the trilogy I feel like I still have more questions than answers!

    -Cristina @ Girl in the Pages


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