Second Look: THE UNBECOMING OF MARA DYER by Michelle Hodkin

The Story: Mara Dyer was an average teenager until her best friend, boyfriend, and frenemy were killed when the old sanitarium they were exploring collapsed. Mara survived without a scratch, and now struggles with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Her family relocates to South Florida, where they hope to get a fresh start. At her new school, she encounters the usual: the awesome kid you want to be your BFF, the smug cheerleader-type and her cronies who you just want to bitch slap, and the painfully charming douchebag that every girl hates herself for liking. All goes according to plan, until Mara starts seeing visions of her dead friends and seeing things that don’t really happen. Mara doesn’t think she can get any crazier until, in an aggravated state, she envisions people dying horrible deaths and then finds their bodies. Can she really kill people with her mind? Or is she so crazy that she can’t differentiate her hallucinations from reality?

The Low Down: I will not lie… this is a hard review to write. I finished Mara Dyer two weeks ago and it has taken me this long to sort out what I think of this book.

Let me just say, I think every girl should have their own Noah, even if only for the witty banter those types of guys provide (yes, Noah is the aforementioned charming douchebag… ladies, we’ve all had at least one in our lives, haven’t we?)

Now, getting to the nitty gritty: I have mixed feeling about this book. Truthfully, I was so hooked I could not stop reading it. Once I got started, I think I only stopped to eat and take bathroom breaks. Every page hooked me in… the dialogue between characters is brilliant, Mara’s confusion and fear is palpable, and the suspense is carried exceptionally well through the length of the book (and at 460+ pages, that’s saying something).

So, now that you’ve heard me rave about it’s awesomeness, I’m sure you’re wondering what I didn’t like about it. My biggest gripe is the lack of realism in some of the situations Mara finds herself in. Several instances popped up in which I felt average daily situations were too extreme to be believed (such as unjust meetings with school principals and overprotective parents letting their potentially psychotic kid go unsupervised just because her older bro says it’s ok). There also is a lot of complexity to the story arc. Like, A LOT. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but there are almost too many elements for one story. However, it is necessary in shaping the rest of the series, so I can give that a pass.

The Bottom Line: The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer reminded me a bit of swiss cheese: it has some holes, but still leaves you wanting more (I know, I know. Its an incredibly corny metaphor, but it’s late and I’ve been trying to put this review into words for two weeks… give me a break). All in all, it is an addicting read with a few minor flaws that I’m willing to overlook. The intriguing storyline, budding romance, and incredible cliffhanger ending will leave readers (including this one) hungry for the sequel.

OFFICIAL RATING: 7/10


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