The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodgkin

[rating=3]
Author: Michelle Hodgkin
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Published: 1 March 2012 (UK)

Review:

Poor Mara Dyer.  Fate’s handed her a raw deal which she can neither understand nor control and once she realises the horrifying extent of what she is capable of; she decides to take matters into her own hands without properly thinking about the repercussions.  The story starts in taboo circumstances. Three friends playing with an Ouija board and dabbling with the devil by asking him how they are going to die. Six months later and the friends are all dead - except Mara. The question is, as the Ouija board predicted, was Mara responsible for their deaths? As Mara and her family move to a different state to help her recuperation, much to her dismay, Mara finds that things still aren’t as they seem.  With a new school, new adversaries, and a Brit Bad Boy on the scene to distract her, will she ever figure out what’s happening to her?

I have a love/hate relationship with this book for various reasons, but let’s start with the positives.  I love Mara. She’s young, she’s feisty, she won’t let herself be pushed about or bullied by the Popularity Crowd at school; and she doesn’t shy away from speaking her mind to her peers, her teachers or her family. Despite the fact that she’s struggling to remember the tragic accident that took the lives of her friends, she still has a vibrant personality that you can’t help but like.  Her relationships with her brother Daniel and with her best friend Jamie were, for me, definite high points of this story.  Not to mention the way she handles the terrible twosome Anna and Aiden who turn out to be her nemesis at school, especially where a certain boy is concerned…

Which brings me on to the not so good. Noah Shaw.  Don’t get me wrong, Noah is definitely the bad boy you want to love. Tall, chiseled jaw, good looking, well built and… British. And herein lies the problem.  Now, I have nothing against a British character in a non-British novel - after all, everyone loves an accent.  But I have to admit to getting frustrated when I read a British character that isn’t authentic (I should point out here that I am British and this is probably the main reason why this bugs me).

So, let me take you back to Noah.  He’s an English boy living in America and has been living there for some time.  However, he’s been written with a English accent.  Again, there is nothing wrong with this, but the frustrating part for me is what he says in his English accent.  For a modern day teenager, his figure of speech was too old fashioned. (An example of this is quite early on in the book when he says ‘Come along’ to Mara - not a phrase you hear regularly in middle class England, especially said by a 17 year old). Another sticking point is that Noah says he used to live in Soho in London.  Anyone who has visited or lived in London will know that Soho is filled with bars and clubs aimed at adults and not where you would ordinarily find a family living.  While these points may only seem like a small thing, it had an effect on the enjoyment of the book for me and this is I am giving it 3 stars and not 4.

However, I am well aware that not everyone will be deterred by this so back to the review.  As the book reaches a climax the pieces all start to fall together. There’s a reason why Noah is attracted to Mara the first time he sees her and as all is revealed I found myself switching allegiances. Suddenly I was on Noah’s side, yelling at Mara to listen to him and not to make rash decisions.

What I would say is, as you are reading this story, there are tiny little elements which happen that you need to keep in mind throughout.  Pay close attention to the visions that Mara has and her interactions with characters that, at first, you think have no impact on what’s happening to her.  File those tidbits of information away because when the rollercoaster of the ending starts, you’ll need to refer back to them to be able to have your ‘aha’ moment during the last few pages.

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer is the first of the Mara Dyer series.  The ending sets us up nicely for Book 2 and it certainly left me wondering what will happen next. Will Mara and Noah reconcile their differences?   Will Mara’s tenuous relationship with her mother improve? Will we find out the exact circumstances of her friends deaths?  I for one am intrigued to see this series develop… and I’ll even get over my aversion to the British inaccuracies to find out.

If you like a mystery mixed in with a love story with an added pinch of a thrilling adventure, then read this story.  I think you might like it.

To order the book from Amazon US click here

To order the book from Amazon UK click here

Product Description:

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