Sunday, 12 February 2012

somebody, please help me! i think ma-mara's gone cra-zay...

book review for the unbecoming of mara dyer by michelle hodkins

mara dyer doesn't think life can get any stranger than waking up in hospital with no memory of how she got there.
 it can.

she believes there must be more to the accident she can't remember that killed her friends and left her mysteriously unharmed.
 there is.

she doesn't believe that after everything she's been through, she can fall in love.
 she's wrong.    

*taken from inside the cover jacket. 

Mara Dyer. Man I was dying to get my hands on this book. I’m not sure if it was all the things I had heard about it, or the massively split opinions, but it was one I couldn't wait to read. Every review I read made it clear that you would finish reading the book and either love the shiz out of it, or want to burn the entire thing. I kinda wanted to know which of these two camps I fit into and, of course, I wanted to see (for once) what the fuss was all about.

Would I clutch this book to me and never let it go? Would I swoon like crazy over Noah? Would I fling it across the room with frustration at the characters’ complete and utter stereotypical behaviour? Would I be sucked into the novel and have to fight blood-dripping monsters to get back out again? (Yeah, the answer to that one is no, BTDUBS).

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer
by Michelle Hodkins didn’t come with a back blurb. It did come with quotes from some pretty awesome authors about the book’s awesomeness. The first one being Veronica Roth. As soon as I read that I plunged right on in.

my review:

At face value: Can’t help but notice the whole ‘floating in the water thing’ is becoming a trend in young adult novels lately… Even so, this is beautifully done.

Immediate reaction: Brain numb. Punch in the face. What the heck just happened?

High Five: Until I was about ¾ of the way through, this book was so in for a high five. Then the last ¼ happened. So I give it a four.

Favourite Quote: So many good ones. But I chose this mostly because the others gave too much away and also because this happens within the first 35 pages! Hodkins doesn’t waste time!

"The girl in the mirror smiled. But she wasn’t me.
It was Claire. Her red hair spilled over my shoulder where my brown hair should have been. Then her reflection bent, sinister in the glass. The room tilted, pitching me to the side. I bit my tongue, then braced my hands on the counter. When I looked up at the mirror, it was once again my face that stared back."

Now, straight up, this book blew my fricken mind. And at the end of chapter twelve, that book was so close to my nose I had an ink stain for a week. I couldn’t put it down. I read it through dinner, I read it in the shower, and while my boy was off at work, I read it until I finished at one in the morning. It made me anxious, gave me butterflies, and at parts, scared the shit out of me – not shiz, shit. I loved every twist and turn. I loved every hallucination. I loved that at one point I realised I had no clue what was real and what wasn’t. The book made me second-guess everything Mara told me and it was UNBE-FRIGGEN-LIEVABLE!

Mara was a strong, well-developed character. She is also crazy. Hodkins writes the insanity so well you can see it in your mind, and blurs the edges of Mara’s reality so much that the things she sees become as real to her as breathing. Claire and Jude haunt her waking hours and the guilt and remorse she feels for Rachel really yanks at your heartstrings. There are also some really beautifully written passages like the Ouija board part in the beginning that is linked to again at the end. The ‘intense’ parts she ‘imagines’ (I’m trying to keep it brief here, kids) with Mabel’s owner and Ms Morales. And pretty much every part where Mara goes from the ‘real world’ into ‘crazy-town’ are so seamless you barely notice them happening.

Now let’s talk a little about Noah. I’ve heard the term ‘panty-dropping’ and ‘swoon-worthy’ applied to this playful Brit. And I get it, he’s a hotty. He’s sarcastic, and rich, and is drawn to Mara for reasons unknown. The reality is though, he brought the book down. He also told Mara, and I Quote:

" I narrowed my eyes at him. "You're evil."
In response, Noah smiled, and he raised his finger to gently tap the tip of my nose.
"And you're mine," he said, then he walked away. "

I mean, ICK! That is not hot. It's not romantic. And after the bitch drops that bomb he turns his back and ditches her.
I’m well aware there will be a bunch of YA readers bashing on my blog-o-sphere with pitchforks and other e-weapons designed solely to cause me a heck load of pain but… he seriously detracted from the 'real' plot. There was some good ol’ playful banter between the two. There was fun and cuteness and… well that’s more or less it. One scene, ONE, in the whole novel stuck with me. And that was because something really awful and horrific ‘seems’ to happen (pg. 377, hardcover edition, if you'd like to know). And then we moved on…
The parts with Noah totally took away from the parts between Mara and, well, Mara. Oh, and her brothers. They were cute.

Noah is also the reason this book only got a four. Granted, I was still willing to give it a five with Noah included but then the MAJOR SCENE happened. It was too easy. Whilst reading it, I was sucked in. A ‘certain’ character acts WAY suspiciously and I SO wanted them to be the villain. But they weren’t. And as soon as I realised they weren’t, the whole MAJOR SCENE seemed pointless.

Mara’s mum was also a massive pain in the tooshy, as was her awkward, unsympathetic dad. There were some pretty flat characters at Mara’s school that did some mean (?whatevs) stuff to her and the only friend of hers I actually gave a damn about, Jamie, is ejected so suddenly from the book I got whiplash watching him go. And then he’s never mentioned again – what? I get that Hodkins wanted to clear the way for the awesomeness that is Noah but… yeah. Not feeling it. Also, the whole supernatural thing that’s kind of thrown in at the end – WHERE THE HECKIN’ HELL DID THAT COME FROM?!

Okay, so I know it sounds like I’m ranting but that’s only because I was SERIOUSLY READY TO MARRY THIS BOOK AND RUN AWAY FOREVERZ and then the end happened. It was like eating the sweetest block of chocolate in the world and finding a hair in it. No, it was actually more like playing Russian Roulette and ACTUALLY SHOOTING YOURSELF IN THE FACE. Like adopting a totally gorgeous puppy and having said puppy EAT YOU. The point I’m getting at here; it was not pleasant.

Then there’s the letter in the front of the book. I get what it means, it’s written well and snatches your attention, but I’m still not really sure what it has to do with anything, or even where it’s supposed to fit in to this whole story…

Despite the above, I seriously recommend you read this book. I know it’s one I’ll reread again soon, now that I know what to expect. I know it’s one that will stay with me for a while and as soon as that sequel comes out, I’ll have it clutched in my pincers and I’m sure I’ll devour it just as quickly. Mara Dyer really is something that you don’t come across very often. And I love, that as a debut novelist, Michelle Hodkins took that chance.


  1. Bloody Hell, SO TRUE. I completely agree with you!! The last 1/4 of the story was like "Ok, what the hell is going on?" I didn't understand anything.

    And the major scene you're refering is the the one when she thinks she killed him? Good God, did I know what was happening in that scene. So fucking confusing. And why on earth would he die? I mean, they were kissing, why would she thinks of ways for him to die? Good, frustrating.

    And the end? OMG I was so so pissed. Really pissed. What the hell? First I tought I liked the book. The story was funny, interesting and ok. Then I was so confused, didn't know what was true and what wasn't. And then before the end I tought I understood what was all about. And when the end came I was with my jaw on the floor. WHAT?! Like I said Frustrating.

    So really, I totally understand your feelings. And I too, will read the sequel, because this story I cannot just leave behind. I am still too confused to do it. Maybe in the second one we will understand more. Or maybe not.

    Awesome review!!

  2. Thanks for commenting! I totally get why there are so many mixed feelings out there now! It's so strange that some people cannot fault this book, whilst others tear it into oblivion.

    I think I'll reread it before Shatter Me arrives, and just stop straight after MAJOR SCENE (the one with the alligators - WTF) and let my imagination finish the rest :P

  3. Oh THAT one! lol. Yes totally. It was so confusing as well!! I mean, ok, she thinks she is crazy, but Hell, there are too much coincidences - to be called coincidences. Two people died and the alligators and everything and she still thinks she isn't responsible?! What the hell? lol.

    And the scene with her dad in the end? Did you get it? Because I didn't if I am honest.

    PS. You're a writer? I am SO PROUD of you!! :) I think you shouldn't be afraid of what people think - screw them! I wish I could write stories too. But I think I'm not good at it. Well, I've honestly never tried :P So, wooow really! At least you're trying! I think it's great! :) ;) When you're done with your first book, I recommend myself to write a review about it Heather ;) :)

  4. That would be awesome! I'll get one out there some day, I'm sure. Some day way down that line.

    And the part with her dad - wha? That was confusion. But I honestly didn't mind the whole trying to convince herself that what had happened wasn't her fault. Traumatic events would bring out denial in the best of people

  5. Ooooh, what you were saying about girl-in-water? YES! I was actually thinking about this one the weekend.

    OK, what you said about Noah, I mean, HOW COULD YOU? *runs away crying*

    *runs back* ... sorry, I'm joking. Nooooo, I LOVE hearing other people's opinions, and I think it's a perfectly valid point. You know, with love interests, in particular, they're going to work for you or not... and I'll admit to following the herd with this one, and being a fan, but I SO get what you mean. No. It's NOT hot. It's chauvanistic, and thank you for highlighting it :D


    Heather, I LOVE your review. I love that you've highlighted the good, AND the bad, and I love all your points, and that loved it! Fabulous! ♥

    1. Thank you for not getting your shovel out over the whole Noah thing; that could have been an awkward end to the friendship :P

      And I fully believe every book has its good and it's bad points and if you're going to review, it's best to be objective.

      And Mara's younger brother - I could totally see him stealing my lunch money or something. That kids is just too dang smart!!


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