maraThe Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin
Release Date: September 27, 2011
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing
Source: Library
Rating: starstarstarstarblank_star
Buy It: Amazon | IndieBound

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.

I know everyone has been waiting for this book to come out, and I was no exception.  I reserved it at my library before they even confirmed they were buying it, and I was the first to check it out.  I read it in a single day and then spent the weekend recovering.  You should be warned that, while I think this is a series given the author’s note at the end, this book does not have a happy ending.  It’s a cliffhanger that gives no indication as to how the other books will play out.  In contrast to that, the romance was so good that it made me, the queen of not caring about romance in YA, read several passages over and over out of glee.

So, in the beginning, Mara is waking up in a hospital bed, connected to wires and flipping out.  Her best friend is dead and so is her boyfriend.  The official story is that the building they were in collapsed around them, trapping Mara in an air pocket.  Mara soon finds out it’s something more sinister, though.  She convinces her parents to move them from Rhode Island to Florida, which sounds like hell if you ask me, and she and her brothers begin private school there in the middle of the year.  Mara immediately connects with Jamie, a bisexual boy in one of her classes, and finds an enemy in Anna, one of those ubiquitous, horrible blonde girls who is somehow popular despite her obvious backstabbing.  This is the only real flaw I found in this book: Hodkin couldn’t resist the call of the stereotypical, overused, bitchy blonde cheerleader trope that has infected almost all YA since Twilight.  I’m tired of it, which is why I docked a star.

Mara is warned off of Noah Shaw more than once by Jamie, but Mara and I found ourselves sympathetic to him.  I don’t think he’s as much of a bad boy as he’s made out to be.  He’s slept with a few girls, which I don’t hold against any seventeen-year-old boy as long as he was smart about it*.  He is an asshole for a lot of reasons, but I think he’s more cocky and unused to being challenged.  He’s no Patch from Hush, Hush, that’s for sure. (I talk about him a lot, don’t I?)  So anyway, I ship them, I don’t have a problem with Noah’s ways, and I think the love story is lovely and heartbreaking, especially considering what happens in the end.

The supernatural element in this novel is strictly related to Mara herself.  There are no Fae, no witches, no vampires in this book.  Mara’s powers are her own and they’re her secret.  I won’t ruin the story for you, but only one other person in the book can possibly understand her power.  That being said, despite a few deaths, the supernatural element isn’t really the main focus of the book.  The book is about Mara and her family, and tangentially about Noah and his family.  The writing is great, not overly descriptive but not too straightforward, and being in Mara’s head didn’t make me want to set my own house on fire.  That’s a pretty glowing compliment, considering how I feel about most YA protags.

Okay, this got longer than I thought it would.  Mara Dyer is totally worth your time and money.  Check it out, buy it, whatever, just find it and read it!

*And by “was smart about it,” I mean, wore a condom.  Is it just me, or is sex becoming less of a taboo in YA since Twilight?  Not that I mind.  Just an observation.