The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin
PROS:mara has serious attiude, inexplicable happenings, unreliable narrator done well
Who is Mara Dyer? What is wrong with her, exactly? Good questions. I just read the captivating, magnetic The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer, and I still can’t truly answer them. You’d think that would make me angry, or feel like I was cheated. Instead, I’m riveted, and am seriously considering a re-read (despite my looming TBR [...]
Mara woke up in a hospital with no memory of how her best friend, her frenemy, and her boyfriend died. They were exploring an old mental institution late at night, and it caved in on them, leaving only one survivor, Mara, and zero evidence of why or how it happened.
Mara and her family relocate to Miami to give her a fresh start. But a physical fresh start might not be enough, when it’s Mara’s mind that seems damaged beyond repair……
Top 5 Reasons to read Mara “Unbecome”
1. Murky Mara
Mara Dyer is one of the most unreliable narrators I’ve ever read. She sees things she shouldn’t be seeing, like her dead boyfriend. Chalking it up to PTSD would be fine, if it weren’t for the NEW dead people. Half the time she’s hallucinating, and the other half, she’s seeing real murder victims, but she can’t remember what happened. Inexplicable deaths seem to follow her around like macabre lost puppies. Is she just in the wrong place at the wrong time? Did she have something to do with the deaths? She doesn’t really know for sure. She loses time.
2. Badass Patch Cipriano-like love interest w/Brit appeal
Noah Shaw has all the elements of a swoon-worthy YA hero: gorgeous, smart, snarky, rich, BRITISH. I’m a sucker for an accent, what can I say? A cross between Patch from Hush, Hush and Will from The Infernal Devices, he seems at first to be a playboy who would do Mara more harm than good, but he suddenly becomes very interested in taking care of her, in helping her figure out what’s wrong with her, and in, oh, you know, making out. Does he sound TOO perfect? Well he’s not. See #3.
It’s not just Dexter who adds to the mysterious death count in this sweltering city. Now there’s a new complicated antihero in town, and you’d better not piss her off. Miami is kind of the perfect backdrop to this story (and not just because it’s Dexter’s stomping grounds). It’s sticky and hot, and Mara, coming from Rhode Island, is in a protracted state of discomfort, which doesn’t help with her PTSD episodes. There is a scene with alligators that would be laughable if it weren’t so creepy crawly. But WHAT the heck were they thinking? I wouldn’t traverse a 1 inch puddle in South Florida for fear of reptilian retaliation–yet Noah, who has lived in Miami long enough to develop a healthy fear of the almighty gator, just swims into a river until he can’t touch? Noah, you may be British, hot, and you may ace your SAT’s and classes, but you’re headed for a Darwin award, my friend. The iconic Calle Ocho is the scene of some tentative flirting and then some ominous “let’s solve the Mara problem” voodoo mumbo jumbo. Miami totally brings the creepy crazy in this book.
4. Paranormal Activity
The story opens with Mara and her friends sitting around a Oujia board, asking how her best friend Rachel will die. The answer, “MARA,” absolutely sets you up to expect paranormal shenanigans. And the overall tone gave me the same heebie jeebies that the movie Paranormal Activity did. That movie also features “lost time” (during which the semi-possessed to possessed MC rocks for hours in the middle of the night, and walks outside her house without realizing it), so I was absolutely expecting some sort of demonic possession plot. I’m still not entirely sure WHAT is happening, but it is definitely paranormal, utterly freaky, and based on that whopper of an ending, MUCH more complicated than I originally thought.
5. Supportive family of the decade
Mara’s big brother Daniel is an Ivy-league bound super genius, who tries to protect Mara, but also encourages her to be more social in her new school. Her little brother Joseph is adorable and precocious. Her psychiatrist mother helicopters her, offering up therapy and meds as a solution, and her lawyer father almost quits a case over her. Mara’s family does everything they can to help her move past this tragedy; including a move all the way down the Eastern seaboard for a change of scenery, with little to no complaint, which can’t be easy.
Mara Dyer is haunting and mysterious, and I DEFINITELY wouldn’t want to run in to her in darkened Miami alley, but I can’t wait to read about her in the sequel!
Check out the badass trailer, which gives off the dark, dangerous vibes of one of those Girl With The Dragon Tattoo trailers. (Mara DOES rock the dangerous-yet-vulnerable Lisbeth vibe, somewhat, so it makes sense).