Tuesday, January 19, 2016

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer Review

Author: Michelle Hodkin
Series: The Mara Dyer Series
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication Date: October 23, 2012
Genre: YA Suspense
Pages: 456

I truly resisted The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin for a long time. I usually never want to read books that are over-hyped and this series, especially the first book was extremely over-hyped. I saw it all over BookTube and Booklr and everyone was positively reviewing it on Goodreads. But I still held off until a few weeks ago when the beauty of the cover finally got me at the library. And I have to say that while I did find a lot of problems with the story, that I did enjoy reading the book. I mean it was fun, it was suspenseful. Was there any character growth? No. Was there insta-love? Sure. Was the mystery climactic? Meh. But that still didn't stop the story from being an engaging and immersing read, and I think that comes down to Mara herself. Being inside this girl's head is extremely creepy and if this story had been written in third person I don't think this book would have any redeeming qualities.

So if you are unaware, this series follows a teenage girl named Mara who was the only survivor of a building collapse that killed her three friends. After she wakes up in the hospital, she has no memory of what happened that night. Her parents agree to move to Florida from their North Eastern home town because Mara feels so guilty and depressed. Her father is a lawyer and takes on a high profile murder case while Mara and her brothers starts classes in a swanky prep school. Mara doesn't make many friends but catches the eye of the coolest guy in school named Noah. Then weird things start happening to Mara that she can't quite explain; are they real or are they visions? Mara can't really decide.

The parts that I really enjoyed in this novel were Mara's visions. It was incredibly interesting to be in Mara's head and trying to figure out what was going on. It was spooky and thrilling to not know how reliable Mara's story really was. Her unreliability kept me turning the pages looking for answers. I also enjoyed getting to know Noah's backstory even though he seemed a little Manic Pixie Dream Guy throughout much of the beginning. But by the end his character had grown some and he seemed on a much more level playing field with Mara.

Now the parts I had problems with do not negate the fact that I read this super fast and was completely enthralled in the story. But I had a lot of problems with the plot, as there seemed not to be one. I mean there was so much going on but nothing that really screamed main story line. Was it Mara's past she's remembering? Was it Mara's new scary abilities? Was it Mara and Noah's relationship development? Was it the court case her father was working on? I certainly couldn't figure it out. The climax of this story had absolutely nothing to do with the majority of the story. I was so confused and ultimately disappointed. Yes, the ending had a great cliffhanger, but the ending was so disjointed that I was extremely unsatisfied. I absolutely hate that YA authors treat series and trilogies like one long story that gets cut off in random places for the next book rather than creating a satisfying ending for each book. There needs to be a story line that is wrapped up in every book, like The Hunger Games, wraps up at the end of the first game. We know it's going to continue but the story ends in a logical place. If The Hunger Games ended like this book, it would have cut off when Katniss gives Peeta the berries and they decide to eat them together. But we didn't find out the conclusion until the second book. It makes no sense. YA authors take note, stop it!

The other problem I had with this story was the overuse of YA tropes. Mara was the dark, clumsy, not-very-attractive-but-the-hottest-guy-wants-me character. Noah was the ManicPixieDreamGuy that was there to show Mara a new way of living. Jamie was the random ethnic character that didn't seem very ethnic. Anna was the random mean girl.... I'm sure you get the point. I did enjoy Mara's little brother, he was interesting compared to rest of the commonplace characters.

Would I recommend this book or series? Like I said, it wasn't horrible and some of it was very thrilling. But I would say, if it interests you then you should read all the books together back to back. I do not plan to finish the series because I didn't read them together but I would give this first book 3 out of 5 unicorns.

Get book 1 here!
Get the whole trilogy here!

 See you soon with another review!