Monday, October 17, 2011

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer

Mara Dyer woke up in the hospital with no memory of why she would be there. She was in a terrible accident with her boyfriend and her two best friends and she was the only survivor. What's also strange is that despite the severity of the accident, she only had a few scrapes and bruises. After she had physically recovered, she still suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder and experienced hallucinations of her dead friends. To escape her memories, she and her family moved from her home in Rhode Island to start fresh in Miami, Florida. At her new private school, she met Jamie, the quirky rebellious guy, and Noah, the gorgeous guy with a bad reputation who is drawn to her. She still had problems deciphering what is real and what isn't and when people start to die around her, she doesn't know why. Is it coincidence or something more nefarious at work?

My summary doesn't really do the story justice, but I don't want to give too much away. I was really surprised by The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer. The cover, although very beautiful, looks like a scene right out of a flowery romantic drama, so that's about what I expected: romance with very little substance or conflict. but the story is much darker and much more interesting. I liked that it dealt with the effects of trauma: memory loss, post-traumatic stress disorder, hallucinations, and regaining memory in bits and pieces. It doesn't seem to be explored a lot in young adult fiction and it's nice to see it as the reality that counteracts the fantastic aspects of the novel. Mara's hallucinations would occur in random places and create this crazy, surreal tableau that she just had to ride out until it was over. For instance, on the first day of school, she walks into the class and sees the building tumbling down around her while her fellow classmates continue with class obliviously. Elements such as this made the story unique.

Most of the characters are engaging and dynamic. Mara is a bit mentally unstable, but her wit, intelligence, and artistic talent are all intact. I felt her artistic ability was underutilized and much more could have been done with it besides sketching her boyfriend. Her point of view proves to be engaging because of her doubt about if what she sees is real or hallucination and her strength to overcome her traumatic past. I also loved her sense of humor which tended to be more vulgar and dark than usual. I really related to it and found her to be refreshingly realistic. Her conversations with Jamie and Noah are particularly funny and are usually laced with fun references. Noah is tolerable as teen love interests go. His character seemed kind of confused between being the promiscuous playboy, the protective/possessive boyfriend, and the earnest, likable guy. I only liked him some of the time and the romance between him and Mara overpowered the dark, supernatural plot during the middle and it didn't return until the end.

Despite the romance interrupting the story, I really liked The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer. The mystery, subjectivity of reality, and the supernatural elements kept me reading and it only took me a couple of days to finish this rather lengthy book. The ending completely surprised me and left me craving the sequel.

My rating: 4.5/5 fishmuffins

1 comment:

M.A.D. said...

4.5 Fishmuffins is good enough for me ;D

Sometimes these sub-plot romances really DO disrupt the otherwise smooth flow of the major storyline, but I'm glad to see how much you enjoyed it as this is one of the top *must-reads* on my TBR :D