The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin

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I’m not sure why I chose this book – I think I was pre-ordering some books and this was an Amazon recommendation. I was off on my last work trip to Leeds for a few days, so I downloaded a few kindle books.

Slightly off subject, I do prefer hard and paper back books, but they tend to get wrecked in my bag (I had a very upsetting incident involving a leaky coke bottle a few weeks ago), so I’m sticking to kindle books whilst I’m out and about at the moment.

So, Mara Dyer. The blurb about the book was quite intriguing so I decided to give it a go:

“After Mara Dyer’s best friend dies, she begins to go through episodes of posttraumatic stress disorder. She cannot remember the accident, or was it an accident? Mara only knows that of the four people who went that night to the abandoned asylum, she was the only survivor.

Mara gets a new start in Florida, where she meets sexy Noah, who is known for being a player. Mara tries to ignore Noah at first but easily becomes entwined in his charms.

Hallucinations and nightmares are a regular part of her life that she tries to keep hidden, especially from Noah. After an incident with her younger brother, Mara finds out that Noah has powerful secrets of his own.”

The first half of this book is sooo creepy! Mara wakes up from a coma to find out that her best friend, boyfriend and the evil cow of the group were killed in an accident at a condemned insane asylum (seriously, hadn’t any of them seen a found footage horror film?!?!).

Mara can’t remember the accident, or even why she was at the asylum in the first place. She is having trouble coping with what happened and starts having hallucinations about her friends.

The whole Dyer family moves to Florida so that Mara can get a fresh start, but she doesn’t seem to be improving.  Mara’s father is a well respected lawyer and her mother is a psychologist (I think – it is implied anyhoo). Mara has a very strained relationship with her mother, but to be fair, I’d find it difficult to communicate with someone who thought I was nuts and constantly questioned me.  Her mum watches her like a hawk, clearly disbelievex everything she says and seems to be waiting for an opportunity to ship Mara off to an institution.

The stress of moving to a new school seems to exacerbate Mara’s issues, and she starts to suffer from disturbing hallucinations of violent deaths. She starts to think maybe she should be institutionalised and never knows if what she is seeing is real or another hallucination.

Two people help Mara to cope with what’s going on, Jamie who is the stereotypical “stuck in the friendzone” character.  He clearly likes Mara, helps her study, and they have a lot in common, but he is her shoulder to cry on. Then there is Noah – wealthy, attractive, intelligent, and a total ladies man with an English accent to boot.  Noah and Mara have a lot of witty banter whilst they try to decide if the actually like each other or not; Noah seems to like the challenge of a girl who doesn’t automatically swoon over him (he’s the school hottie, or bicycle** depending on your outlook). There’s the obligatory mean girl who makes Mara’s life hell, although I found this additional story point a bit redundant – with everything else going on in Mara’s life I really don’t think she’d give a toss if some spoiled cow called her names.

So, weird stuff just seems to happen around Mara, she sees dead people, she hallucinates live people dying before they then die, and she starts to believe that she really is going crazy.

The events at the asylum are revealed slowly throughout the book as Mara starts to remember what happened to her; was it an accident or did someone murder her friends?

I found the book to be quite interesting and creepy, although the general atmosphere of strangeness sort of disappears about half way through. The romance between Mara and Noah takes over the story half way through, to the detriment of the novel in my opinion, and most of the secondary characters disappear at around the same time. I found reading the last third of the book a bit of a hard slog.

This is the first book in a trilogy, and I will read the next book to get more answers on what is going on with Mara, as the first book ends on a bit of a cliffhanger, but I’ll have a break first to read something else.

Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

Cheerio!

Stephani Xxx

**Everyone’s ridden him.

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