Release Date: September 27, 2011
Publisher: Simon & Schuester Books for Young Readers
Age group: YA
Wow. 'The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer' is one of those books that I really don't even know how to review. There were things that I loved about it a lot (okay, yes, Noah mostly), but then there were also a couple of things that I was not that big of fan of (the supernatural element mostly). But now after reading it, I must conclude after examining of the different elements of this novel, I really enjoyed this one.
The story is told through the eyes of Mara. The story begins with her and her friends playing with a spirit board and then jumps to a hospital where Mara is told that her best friend Rachel, as well as her other friends Claire and Jude have died in a building collapse. Mara was also there, but she has survived, almost unharmed. Mara has no recollection of what happened, but soon enough, dreams and hallucinations start to haunt her and she has no idea how to react.
Going on with her life in the town her friends died is too much for Mara, and the family relocates to Miami, Florida. There Mara and her two brothers start to attend local schools and Mara hopes that her hallucinations stop, so she can go on with her life. She is scared to talk about her situation with her mother, a psychologist, because she knows that she will be institutionalized if her family gets to know the extend of her problem. She is angry at herself for causing so much trouble for her family, and also for not remembering what actually happened that night her friends died.
"Noah Shaw was still a whore, still an asshole, and still painfully out of my league. This was my inner mantra, the one I repeated on the loop..."
During her first day of school, Mara meets Noah. Noah is charming, incredibly handsome and has a British accent (come on, everyone loves that). But Noah also has a reputation of being a player and a heart breaker. And getting her heart broken is the last thing Mara needs at the moment. But it seems Noah has really taken interest in Mara and despite her efforts to stay away from him, she feels drawn to him and they end up forming a friendship with a possibility for something more. But the fact that Mara still sees hallucinations and nightmares and begins to remember more and more about what happened with her friends, Mara tries to distance herself from Noah as much as possible, knowing that he might actually break her heart and she might actually be able to hurt him in a very extreme way.
What made the novel very interesting is the fact that you cannot always trust Mara's narration. Due to her hallucinations and nightmares, some things that she narrates as ones she "sees" are actually just something she believes she sees. The narration really plays with your mind and a couple of times I had to go back and try to figure out did some of the things actually happen. Mara is also extremely likable as character; she is witty, has a sense of humor and her reaction to what happens to her is very realistic.
"No," I said, louder this time. "I mean asscrown. The crown on top of the asshat that covers the asshole of the assclown. The very zenith in the hierachy of asses", I said, as though reading from a dictionary of modern profanity."
When it comes to Noah, I can just say that he is incredible. He seems like an extremely confident guy, but there is a mystery behind him as well, a one that you really cannot expect while reading the novel. The way he is described sounds perfect - he is this British guy everyone is in love with, he plays guitar, looks always like he has just woken up and still sexy... He is witty and intelligent and mysterious. I am in love. The relationship between Mara and Noah takes its time even though it is clear that they like each other. I really liked this one, because it makes the story a bit more believable - Mara has been hurt and is not ready to get hurt again, thus avoiding Noah as much as possible.
"A mocking grin crept over Noah's mouth. "Haven't you heard not to judge a book by its cover?"
As I said in the first paragraph, the paranormal element that was added to the story towards the end of the novel was the one thing I did not really like about this novel. I kind of saw that it was coming, but because I read from a review that if you like books like 'Twilight', you will probably end up liking this. The paranormal twists is not as drastic as vampires of werewolves or something like that though, and I hope that maybe it the second book it is explained a bit better, but at the same time it stays in the background, not taking too much attention away from the story itself.
The ending of the novel is SO GOOD because it really makes you want to read the second book in an instant. So that said, I really cannot wait to get my hand of the second book on the series.