Friday, June 24, 2011

THE UNBECOMING OF MARA DYER by Michelle Hodkin

Author: Michelle Hodkin
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Release Date: September 27, 2011
Number of Pages: 464
Source of Book: Borrowed the ARC from Sarah @ Y.A. Love

Publisher Summary:
Mara Dyer believes life can't 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 strangely unharmed.
     There is.
She doesn't believe that after everything she's been through, she can fall in love.
     She's wrong.
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OK...I know this is a really early review, but I needed to process my thoughts about this book - and that's why I have a book blog - to share my thoughts! :)

I should warn you now - you're in for high amounts of gushing about this book (but no major spoiling!). I had seen the gorgeous cover, read the summary, then read the first chapter preview and I was hooked and knew this was a must-read book for me. Then, I was lucky enough to have Sarah agree to loan me her ARC, and I am so glad she did so I'll have more time to anticipate the love many people are going to have for this book (now, I know not everyone will love it, but I do and since this is my blog, I'll gush if I want to!). 

THE UNBECOMING OF MARA DYER is one of the most interesting books that I have read in awhile. It blew my mind, kept me on my toes, crawled under my skin, tugged at my heart, and won't get out of my head. It is a multi-layered story: part psychological thriller, part epic teen romance, part high school story, part mystery, part family dynamics, and part suspense. Oh, and I can't forget the slight paranormal tendencies (in the mental sense not creatures) underlying the events of this book. It is a page-turning, hard to put down, want to know what will happen and how the main character will figure it all out kind of book. It starts with a note from Mara setting up the premise that she's going to be telling you her story (under a pseudonym) of why her life is not normal. It's definitely a book you have to read with an open mind so you can just go with it. At times I thought, "oh, this is like ___" only to find out I was wrong, but I could definitely see the influences of other YA books, but done with unique twists. There are lots of "what is going on?!" and "did that just happen?!" moments, but that's what made it so much more readable.

Michelle Hodkin (a debut author!) has an engaging writing style that is a nice balance of descriptive, exciting, humorous, suspenseful, sarcastic, and intelligent. It just draws you in without even realizing it and you find yourself negotiating "just one more chapter before I go to sleep" fifteen times in a row until you can't keep your eyes open anymore. Parts of this book (especially the dialogue) were so smile to myself entertaining I found myself rereading them just to soak them in more and deeply process the subtle references and entertaining quality.

And the main character Michelle has written in Mara? Not the most reliable, or most sane, but she's got an awesome sass to her that I love, and underneath her insecurity and unsureness has a strength and integrity that drew me to her even more. Mara doesn't remember what happened the night the building collapsed and her friends were killed. One of the best parts of this book is the way that Mara's memories of that night start to come back to her. We get flashbacks through her dreams as she gets them - leaving us feeling as unsure as Mara does about what's going on - but eventually we finally get the whole story of that night and the story comes together really well. It's written in the way that makes you feel like the character is feeling at that point in the book - you'll be scared, hopeful, worried, confused, happy, and freaked out when Mara is feeling that way as you go through the story with her.

Should we talk boys now? How about my newest (and quite possibly best ever) literary crush - Noah Shaw. Really, after reading it, I sigh just hearing his name. I love, love, love Noah's character. He's got a great way of talking (and lots of hidden secrets to come) and interacting and being that is just captivating. The parts I found myself rereading the most were the interactions between Mara and Noah. Now, I should warn you, at first I was a little skeptical because he seemed like the stereotypical bad boy, insta-crush, jerk to girls, love interest character, but there's much, much more than meets the eye (or rumor mill as the case may be) with Noah Shaw. Don't let his early interactions fool you - there is an epic sort of romance that develops between Mara and Noah that will have you swooning by the end.

Secondary characters deserve a mention too - maybe because I have two brothers myself and am the middle/only girl, I really enjoyed Mara's relationship with her brothers - especially her older brother Daniel. He's great. He watches out for her, covers for her, protects her, and pushes her to get out there. I want a big brother like him. We also see Mara at her new school after they move out of state and meet her new friend Jamie. He is awesomely sarcastic and witty and good comedic relief. He also serves as commentary to set the stage for what's going on in the new school's dynamics. I enjoyed reading both Daniel's and Jamie's characters; I would have liked a little more of Jamie though.

This book all leads up to an ending that is unexpected and left me wondering What?! How did that happen?! It made me want to go back and reread the whole book with that new perspective and see if it changed my thoughts on earlier parts of the story. It ends at a point that added a final cliffhanger of a twist and left me hoping that there would be more - and there will be a sequel (thank goodness because I need answers!) You may feel a little off balance at the end of this one, but I truly think that's part of the reason that it is so good. I want my stories to surprise me once in awhile and this one was definitely surprising. Be on the lookout for THE UNBECOMING OF MARA DYER in September!

Book 10 of 12 for DAC 2011

6 comments:

  1. Ahhh I have been looking forward to this ever since I heard about it a few months ago. Can't wait until it's released!

    And I am very much looking forward to meeting Noah now :)

    Great review.

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  2. Great review! I'm so excited for this one since I continue to hear nothing but amazing things about it :)

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  3. Awesome review! You make me so much more excited to read this one!

    Btw, I love your blog and the Paris theme! I am a new follower :). I am excited to read your other reviews!

    Kristina @ Ladybug Storytime
    http://ladybugstorytime.blogspot.com/

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  4. Great review! I've heard nothing but good things about this book, but really love how you explained your gushing. Love a book where I keep promising I'll quit reading after one more chapter, until my eyes finally won't stay open. Definitely a must read!

    Here's my Saturday Situation.

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  5. I couldn't have said it better myself! I LOVED it, too! How could you not? Noah Shaw...sigh.

    Great review.

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  6. I came from my gushing blog post about meeting Michelle Hodkin to your review. I definitely think if you can't gush on your blog then why have a blog??? I gush extensively about the books I read. Now that I've found a fellow gusher, well I'm just so HAPPY!! I thought I was the only one that got overexcited about books. Everyone else seems able to keep a tight reign on their gushiness. Not me! I'm an emotional wreck and have been known to admit to having sobfests over certain books. Not often, but when I do....

    Thanks for entering my giveaway and for tempting me even more with this wonderful review! I WANT THAT BOOK NOW!!! Do you think that's clear:)
    I should have just snatched it and let the husband come back for the kids. But really, she was just so humble and kind, I couldn't do that. Have you sent your review to Michelle Hodkin? Make sure you do. Believe it or not, no matter how awesome we think they are, they're human and love to hear good things about their books. I'm sure her nerves are nearing rattle point as publication date approaches.

    Heather

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