She believes there must be more to the accident she can't remember that killed her friends and left her mysteriously unharmed.
She doesn't believe that after everything she's been through, she can fall in love.
OPINION: 5 STARS
The Short Version:
Mysterious, unique, and masterfully sculpted, The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer is one of the single most brilliantly executed books. With a phenomenal concept and story line, gorgeous writing, and an absolutely astoundingly well developed cast of characters, this one is beyond amazing in more ways than can be explained. Rich in banter and humor, but never shying away from the emotions and rough stuff, The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer mixes old and new elements in a way that makes Hodkin shine.
The Extended Version:
Mara is a fantastically well done character, holding all the pain and discomfort that would be expected for someone in her situation while still having a mindset all her own that brings her character vividly to life. From her fear to her bravery, flirting to annoyed, Mara goes through a huge range of emotions and every single one is tangible across the pages. She is witty and sarcastic, but completely relatable and realistic in a way that comes off as completely natural. Her character growth and development from start to finish is tremendous, giving further credibility to Hodkin’s inherent skills.
Noah is, hands down, the hottest boy in YA. Cocky and sure of himself, yet with a huge heart and compassionate in the softest of ways, he will melt hearts even when he’s being a jerk. Intelligent and perceptive, Noah adds plenty to the overall story and Mara’s development without ever stealing the spotlight from her. Excruciatingly hot, hilarious in his quips and comments, and achingly sweet as well, Noah has just as strong a presence and lasting impression as Mara.
Also notable with this book is the family element, breaking plenty of molds within YA for the better. With two parents who very much love Mara, even if the mother can be overbearing at times, the safety net that Mara does have is clear, and adds a beautiful element to the story. Her relationship with her older brother is realistic, flawed at times but great at others, and reading the scenes between these two will bring a smile to every reader’s face. But even better, despite the strong family role, the book still centers very much on Mara, while she navigates everything thrown at her without having it all simply done for her.
This is a book where the plot is impossible to talk about without giving things away, but suffice it to say it is perfectly done from the interweaving of the growing mystery to the small clues sprinkled throughout to the character driven aspect. Every single element of this book, however big or small, plays amazingly into the overall effect. Relying in large part on carefully planned reveals, there are plenty of unpredictable twists and jawdropping turns that will keep readers salivating with each turn of the page. Though not a contemporary book, this one has a very strong contemporary component that will resonate with readers who prefer that genre while still pulling in plenty of the supernatural to entice other readers. This blend is completely seamless, with everything entwined intricately.
The romance element of this one is fantastic, hot and steamy yet emotional and awkward, and never detracts from the bigger picture of the plot or comes off as being just a fallback to fill the lulls. Just as intriguing and engaging as the rest of the book, this is one of the best romances in YA, yet the book itself doesn’t stand out as simply a romance.
Hodkin’s writing is gorgeous, rapt with plenty of fresh descriptions while still holding a very potent, unique voice that builds Mara’s character and the way she views the world. Some of the best, most fluid, never forced banter around can be found in this boot. Without relying only on insulting comments to be funny, Hodkin’s humor and banter engages both the characters and readers and crops up at even the most serious of times for the perfect moment of comedic relief before thrusting the reader right back into the depths of everything. Rapt with an emotional atmosphere that adds to the mystery element and borders on dark and drab without actually being that way, the writing kicks an already amazing book up another notch.
With an astoundingly well done cast of characters that includes a witty, sympathetic, and relatable narrator and a sexy sweet love interest, and a plot that is too intricate to even talk about without ruining everything, The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer is an example in every way of what an amazing book should be like. Though the ending is jaw dropping, that isn’t the only reason readers will be begging for more, showing true testament to Hodkin’s inherent ability as both a writer and story teller. Stunning in every way, this is a debut that you don’t want to miss and that amps things up across the board for the YA genre.
Source: ARC received from publisher in exchange for an honest review
Reading level: Young Adult
Hardcover: 464 pages
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers
Publication Date: September 27, 2011