Mara Dyer would tell you what happened to her that night in the abandoned asylum. That night when she lost three of her friends in a horrible accident that left her mind scarred and her confidence shaken. She’d tell you, if that night weren’t completely wiped from her memory. Picking up and moving to Florida to escape the past, Mara’s hallucinations and nightmares continue to escalate. At the same time, she is growing closer to a boy she didn’t think that she could fall in love with, a boy who can help her find the truth within herself; the truth of what happened that night.
There’s a lot to say about The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer. The book starts out rather promising, and I found myself delightfully spooked by Mara’s paranormal events and haunting hallucinations. Those alone made the book stand out against other YA books of its kind. I also love the creepiness factor. Mara’s periods of hallucinations and flashback dreams to “that night,” give The Unbecoming a haunting feel that helps put the reader in Mara’s shoes, and really emphasizes her PTSD. Sadly though, these fade over time as Noah Shaw, Mara’s love interest, becomes the primary focus of Mara’s life.
Noah is are downright unrealistic. He is popular, hot, has gotten with every girl in school (but wouldn’t DARE try to have sex with Mara), is hot, filthy rich, is hot, and lives in a mansion that is compared to the Taj Mahal. But wait, he lost his mother when he was little and is neglected by his father. That gives him some humanity to his godliness, right? Wrong, because he speaks French and Spanish, is hot, has a British accent, is hot, gets perfect grades, but doesn’t need to take notes in class or bring his books because he has “a good memory.” Did I mention he’s hot, or as Mara’s describes, “inhumanly beautiful”? Get Edward Cullen on the phone, because someone may have out-perfected him.
Hodkin’s work is peppered with some gems of lines that made me chuckle, and a few that made me shiver, but is average overall. She does get an A+ for a Trogdor reference, though (don’t ask). Still, I wanted to finish the book as soon as possible, and not in a good way.
The ending is perhaps the most disappointing moment of the novel. There is very little build-up, or climax, and anything that contributes to the ending scenes is lost amongst the four hundred and fifty pages of this book. Had the ending been a bit more urgent and put-together, and the story itself more concise, it would have been perfect. It definitely opens up the opportunity for a sequel, though.
In all fairness, fans of steamy (abstinent) romance, paranormal activities, and the occasional sassy line will undoubtedly rave about this book (and they have). However, if you are as tired of the “normal girl falls for steamy boy in a paranormal setting” dog-and-pony show that much of YA literature has become, you might want to pass this one up.