Thursday, 14 March 2013
The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer - Michelle Hodkin (#1)
I've heard lots and lots of incredible things about this book, scratch that, about this series and with THAT cover, it was a little too good to resist picking this up despite the works paranormal and supernatural being on the blurb.
Synopsis: Mara wakes up in hospital after being in a coma for 3 days with no idea how she got there. The last thing she remembers is being in an old, closed asylum with her best friend, a girl she disliked and her boyfriend. Now, her friends are dead after the building fell on top of them, yet Mara is the only one that lived. Her family move to Florida to try and get over the accident that Mara thinks was her fault. On her first day at her new school, Mara sees her dead friends, the classroom ceiling seems to fall in and she starts to see deaths before they actually happen. There's also Noah Shaw, a guy that seems very interested in Mara from their first meeting. But is that just him being interested or is there something deeper? Are the people she sees imagined or real?
Review: I'm not a supernatural/paranormal kind of gal at all. And then when Twilight came along and all those vampire love triangle spin-offs, I was put off my the genre even more.
So I started this book with that thought, which is a little judgemental I know, and I expected myself to dislike this book A LOT. But, I do not see how they can describe this as a paranormal/supernatural genre book. Okay, the whole thing at the end happens but for me, this book was more of a psychological thriller with a dash of romance.
Soon into the novel, you find out that Mara has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder with some of the symptoms are hallucinations, flashbacks and nightmares, all of which feature for Mara. There's this deep undertone at the back of my mind throughout whether the experiences Mara faces are merely the PSD or something more sinister - even by the end, I wasn't entirely sure what was reality or dreamt by Mara. It really makes the novel stand out with this unreliable narrator. Combined with the sarcasm Mara's voice has, she is a likable character that makes a reader really feel for what she is going through.
One of the things that made me annoyed by this novel is that throughout you have this great 'is it real or not?' question for every event that Mara goes through but then, suddenly that all stops at the end and I guess the sinister undertones become more prominent For me, the whole psychological thriller was kind of forgotten to display a novel that is essentially supernatural. Then, it got even more confusing because more is implied rather than clearly shown (if that makes ANY sense). In a perfect world, I would have liked the thriller part to be a bit longer - like the whole novel...
I don't think Michelle Hodkin can be faulted for her characters and their relationships with Mara that she builds upon. There is every type of relationship shown - friend, enemy, brotherly, boyfriend and that's what makes this book seem more real, more believable, in my eyes. My favourite moments were the ones featuring Mara and her brothers, David and Joseph for the banter, teasing and just plain sibling love. Her friendship with Jamie, although doesn't end superbly (anyone else think he was kind of forgotten about halfway through?), is so lovely and so real that I thought HE would be love interest rather than Noah, hell, I thought there would be another love triangle rocking out. I certainly believe that the relationships felt real, felt genuine and it made this novel even more haunting.
As I mentioned boyfriend in that previous paragraph, I think it's time to talk about Noah. Ah, Noah. I wrote on a status update on Goodreads while I was reading this novel 'I think I'm falling a little bit in love with Noah' which 2 people liked it instantly. It says it all. Wow, he is quite a lovely protagonist - good-looking, bad reputation, slightly mysterious and yet the loveliest human being. It was interesting to see Mara and Noah's relationship evolve from hatred and annoyance to something really lovely and endearing. Some reviewers have commented on the focus of the relationship only really being brought to the surface halfway through, but I liked this. It made the relationship and the mental stability of Mara both focused on particularly at crucial parts.
There's something I think most people dislike about this novel, be it a character, the writing, the pace or the plot. But it's clear that what makes this novel just so great is the fact that most of the time you literally have no idea what is right or wrong. There is something extremely addictive about this series, especially with the cliffhanger ending and the humour running throughout. This isn't a five star book, but it's darn close. I absolutely loved this book.
Book Two will certainly be appearing at some point this year on Rebecca-Books.
I give it a 4 out of 5
Author's Website: http://www.michellehodkin.com/
Publisher: Simon and Schuster