Monday, May 12, 2014

Book review: THE UNBECOMING OF MARA DYER by Michelle Hodkin

If you’re looking for a psychological story where you can’t differentiate reality from imaginations, THE UNBECOMING OF MARA DYER is for you. Mara is the only one of her group of friends who survives a building collapse, and now she suffers from PTSD. Even after relocating to a new town, Mara still has hallucinations. As these hallucinations start becoming more violent, Mara struggles to tell them apart from reality. Her therapist says they are often brought on by stress, and between her lawyer father’s new high profile murder trial and the school’s playboy taking a strange interest in Mara, she’s got plenty of stress in her life. Mara starts to have doubts about everything. Is she really crazy? Or are these hallucinations actually real?

This is one of those books you just need to experience. Don’t go in with too much knowledge about the plot…it’s better to learn things along with Mara. I like Mara as a narrator. I think she could use a bit more development as a character (most of her characterization revolves around the tragedy and how she copes with it), but there are two more books in the series, so hopefully we’ll get more development later. Several of the scenes at the school were typical YA new-girl-struggles-to-adjust-and-is-hated-by-the-popular-girl-and-catches-the-attention-of-said-popular-girl’s-ex.

I guess this is as good a time as any to talk about Noah Shaw. Most readers seem to either adore him or absolutely hate him. I’m indifferent to him at this point. At the beginning of the book, he was cast as the school’s player, the guy who sleeps with every girl but dates none of them, and I was on board with that. But then Mara comes to town and he takes a particular interest in her, and we realize he maybe doesn’t deserve his reputation. It was nice to see how he acts around Mara, but I’m still not sure what to make of his character. I’d been hoping for a bit more of a bad boy. I’m interested to see how his character develops as the series continues as well.

Moving on, I loved all the psychological stuff happening here. Before I read it, I was unsure, afraid I’d be confused the entire time about what’s real and what’s imagined. For the most part, though, you could tell the difference and so could Mara. But when Mara is seriously confused, so are you, and I loved that. I don’t want to spoil anything, so that’s all I’ll say, but it’s a wild ride for sure! Michelle Hodkin has done a great job pulling me into this story, and I’m itching to get my hands on the sequel, THE EVOLUTION OF MARA DYER. The final book, THE RETRIBUTION OF MARA DYER, comes out later this year.

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