review: the unbecoming of mara dyer

30 June 2012

book info:
ages: 13 and up
grades: 8 and up, Years 9 and up
on sale: now
copy from: library
pages: 456

title: The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer
author: Michelle Hodkin

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've read this book in about a day. I was, an unsuspecting girl looking through the shelves of my young adult section at the library. There are old, faded spines and books I've seen there since the beginning of time...and then this. I was so thrilled to find this! I'd expect there to be a queue of like, a hundred people, but for this to be left on the shelf? Magnificent.

On with the review! It's absolutely amazing how Ms. Hopkin's can suddenly change from normal to extreme. One moment, the story is going along like any young adult teenage-problem story to something dramatic and severe. That sort of transition is really unexpected, and the unexpected nowadays (young adult literature-wise) is truly a gift.
Mara's character is not the usual shy, bookish nerd girl. She's strong, snarky and a bit rude. The love-interest  Noah (an English kid!) isn't the typical knight-in-shining-armour. He's got his own, strange personality as well. I think Ms. Hopkin's has achieved this remarkable tale of originality. Coming up with an original story, as original as this, is hard to do. 

I must say, I was a bit biased against this book because of the title. Yeah, that's right: the title. It sounded like other chick flick books like "The true confessions of ______" or "the ramblings of a teenage _____" And the full name "Mara Dyer" She says it so often, like when people ask for her name. When people do that to me, I respond "Kirthi". My last name isn't important. Yet Mara finds it necessary to say "Mara Dyer" every time. Her last name is strange as well. It sounds like "Die-er". Perhaps it was meant to be like that, a morbid hidden clue to readers. 

Back to the title. There was one word that truly intrigued me, and it was "unbecoming". I thought of someone unraveling, or slowly turning into something inhuman, like a monster. Or just someone changing so much, that he or she doesn't recognise himself or herself any more. It turns out the actual definition is "detracting from one's appearance, character, or reputation;unattractive or unseemly" (Random House dictionary). That definition could be applied to the story, but I think mine is more suiting :)

All in all, I love Ms. Hodkin's writing. She's a true writer, with such beautiful and lovely and stunning simplicity, with an underlying, haunting feel about it all. Love her writing, and I'm definitely a fan. 

Now, I'm not into horror or mystery or paranormal that much, so I'm going to have to mark down this book to a four tree rating, purely because of my taste in books.

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