Book Review: The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer

Book Review: The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin

16-year-old Mara wakes up in a hospital to some truly horrifying news: She was injured when an abandoned building collapsed with her and three friends trapped inside. Even worse, Mara is the only survivor, yet she has no memory of what happened or why they were there.

Suffering from flashbacks and hallucinations and diagnosed with PTSD, Mara begs her parents to relocate some place new and let her start fresh — a new town and a new school where the daily reminders of her loss won’t confront her everywhere she turns. The family packs up and moves from Rhode Island to Florida, but the trauma for Mara isn’t over.

Mara continues to see things that aren’t there and to have occasional lapses in time that she can’t account for. On top of that, her new private school is not exactly welcoming, and Mara manages to alienate a typical mean girl on her very first day. On the bright side, stunningly attractive Noah seems drawn to Mara, and despite her misgivings, the two eventually develop a strange yet strong connection.

As Mara and Noah’s tension-filled chemistry grows, so too does the mystery. Why can’t Mara remembers some of her actions? Why does she see faces of her dead friends in mirrors? Why do people around her keep ending up dead?

This being the first book in a trilogy, of course there are no quick answers. Unbecoming ends with some insights and revelations, but no major mysteries solved. Clearly, Mara and Noah are involved with forces and powers they don’t understand, and clearly, there are dangers waiting for them in the next installment.

I found this young adult novel addictingly readable, and managed to gobble it all up in the space of 24 hours. The writing is adept and flowing, with snappy dialogue that seems true and authentic for its teen protagonists. Mara is an immensely sympathetic lead character; the reader feels her pain, her confusion, and her sorrow, as well as her more pedestrian worries about fitting into a new school, trying to make friends, and fretting about GPAs and college acceptance letters.

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer sets out an intriguing set of mysteries, with dynamic characters and relationships, and leaves everything swirling around with enough suspense that I can’t wait to read the next book. Which, luckily for me, won’t be a terribly long wait: The Evolution of Mara Dyer will be released October 23, 2012.

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