Saturday, May 26, 2012

Review: The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin

Release Date: September 27, 2011
Publisher: Simon and Schuster Children’s Publishing
Author Information: Website / Blog / Twitter / Pintrest
Genre: Paranormal, Contemporary
Available Formats: Hardcover and eBook
My Shelf: Own (Hardcover)
Other Information: Debut Author
Mara Dyer doesn't think life can get any stranger than waking up in a 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.

When a friend recommended this book to me, they informed me that I would either love or hate it. She told me there is no middle ground, no neutral territory. Well, in the end, it gives me no pleasure to say she ended up being wrong. My feelings on this book are rather ambiguous. It has taken me over 3 weeks to write this review because I could not really decipher how it made me feel. Even now I am conflicted! So let’s start breaking things down, shall we?

The great:

1. The dialogue. Oh man, I am such a fan of the dialogue. It is not the usual ‘teen speak’ that is prevalent in most YA books today. The dialogue is witty and intelligent, and it is definitely on a higher difficulty level than a majority of YA books! It was very refreshing.

2. The cover. Just look at it! It’s gorgeous! Do I need to say more??

The mediocre:

1. The paranormal plot twist. I know, I know, some people hated it. I did not mind it so much myself. Could the twist have been better executed? Of course, without a doubt. Even I was a little thrown with how quickly things seemed to change in the book/story. The story focuses almost completely on the romance, and in the last quarter of the book, the plot rears up and smacks you in the face. However, hints of this paranormal element were present throughout the book, such as Mara’s name. (Mara DYER- as if we needed a bigger clue!) So the plot twist was not overly surprising or anything, but it lacked a certain finesse that would have made it good. For me, it was just okay.

2. The side characters. They were your typical characters with the standard one-dimensional personalities. I did not care for any of them. In fact, even though I just read the book a couple of weeks ago, I cannot remember any of their names! I guess that says it all, no? They did not really add any depth to the story, nor did they detract from it, so they were just meh.

3. The romance. The romance was a typical YA romance. Nothing about Mara and Noah’s romance stood out or was memorable. The dialogue exchanged between the two of them was great, but the characters themselves were terrible (which I will get to in the next section), and I could not bring myself to invest any attention or feelings into their relationship.

 The doldrums:

1. Mara. Oh Mara, Mara, Mara, I did not really care for you. She causes certain catastrophic events in the book (she kills people- some who are innocent!), but never once did she feel guilty about it. If you were the reason someone died, no matter how horrible of a person they were, wouldn’t you feel even a little guilt? Especially when their death resulted from your inability to control your anger/feelings? Instead, she just complained about it all and talked about how unfair it was for her to be burdened with her ‘gift.’ This attitude of hers really irked me towards the end. I really hate it when characters just cry and whine about something instead of being proactive and figuring out a way to solve their problems. Sure, Mara’s gift was not much of a gift at all, but do not spend most of the book sobbing about it. Figure out a way to control it instead.

Another thing that bothered me was Mara’s feelings towards Noah.

What could I say? Noah, despite you being an asshole, or maybe because of it, I’d like to rip off your clothes and have your babies. Don’t tell.

That is not why you should like a guy. That is NEVER why you should like a guy. I do not like that these kinds of thoughts are becoming more and more prevalent in books. Girls should not like a guy because he is a jerk, even if he is popular, rich, and/or all other girls like him (or have slept with him). This is not something that young girls should think is okay, and that is exactly what thoughts like Mara’s teaches them.

2. Noah.  Here comes the rant. I detested Noah. There is no easy or nice way to say that. Initially, I was totally on the Noah bandwagon. He is described as being good-looking, rich, smart, and just all around perfect without meaning to be. To top it off, he even has a sexy accent and speaks six languages. Sounds nice, right? But then a few other details started to trickle in. He throws away women like they are ‘used condoms,’ has a tendency to talk down to them, and has literally slept with all the girls in the school, earning him the title of King Wham-Bam-Thank-You-Ma’am (graciously bestowed by me). He is a complete womanizer, and all the girls know it, yet they continue to fan over him even though he treats them like they are undeserving of his attention. Promiscuity is not sexy, and neither are boys who treat girls like crap. His attitude towards Mara is different since he seems to really care for her, but I had a hard time disassociating him with all the other girls. In his defense, a few of the girls are rude and seem deserving of being told off by him, but the way he treats them overall is really just disconcerting to me. In my opinion, no guy should treat a girl like that and no girl should be okay with a guy treating them with anything less than respect.

(Just as a quick note, most of my thoughts and feelings for the characters stem from my own personal beliefs, so please do not let me deter you from reading this book. Plenty of other people have enjoyed it and have fallen completely in love with Noah, so you should definitely read it for yourself and formulate your own opinions.)

Overall, this book was just okay. I loved the dialogue and the plot really grabbed my attention initially, but with poor plot execution and unlikeable characters (for me, anyway), this book left me feeling underwhelmed. I will try reading the next book in the series, The Evolution of Mara Dyer, to see what happens, but I think my expectations are going to be a little lower. 
A Decent Escape

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