Friday, November 11, 2011
The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer
Simon & Schuster BFYR, 2011
YA; Paranormal; Love Story
This book attracted a lot of attention in the blogosphere for its unique cover (which I didn't really like; I prefer sad girl in a pretty dress; I like her dress but not the second person). Then I saw mixed reviews: some euphoric and swooning over Noah; others pointing out how creepy and possessive Noah is. I was pretty sure I'd end up hating Noah but I wasn't sure how that would color my perception of the book.
Well, aside from Noah, I did mostly like the book. It is definitely darker than some of the YA I've read and has horror elements, a genre I assiduously avoid but the way they were presented was more as part of Mara's mental state rather than as horror elements to scare the audience; it hinged on her unreliability as a narrator. There are even a few aspects where I am confused, either because information wasn't fully divulged or because the prose was a little confusing. Either way those elements actually ended up being my favorite as I attempted to puzzle out what might be true, what was truly imagined by Mara, and what Mara maybe was just plain making up.
I also liked the family element; Mara has an older and a younger brother. The older brother is pretty obviously the mother's favorite so seeing how he'd intervene on Mara's behalf was interesting. Otherwise neither sibling had much a personality besides aiding Mara and occasionally being funny. Her mother is very protective of Mara, as would be expected from the earlier events described in the book, but sadly it sounds like their relationship wasn't the best pre the start of the book so now it's just worse. Her father isn't there much either as a busy lawyer taking on a big case.
However I felt the complaints against Noah were fully justified. He's got a British accent, more money than he could ever use, and his treatment of Mara is SUPER creepy. He says that he noticed from the start that she was special, "different" from the other girls and he becomes super possessive and controlling ot her. He will guide their relationship and even though she knows she shouldn't let him, she frustratingly always does. Once they got involved, less time is spent on Mara's hallucinations and healing as Noah takes over the pages and her life.
Another warning beyond the one about this awful depiction of a guy in YA lit, is the pretty big cliff-hanger at the beginning. I could see it was the end because the very next page had acknowledgements but I could barely believe it because it changes everything!