4 of 5 stars to ‘The unbecoming of Mara Dyer’ by Michelle Hodkin

Mara Dyer

Playing God

Just months ago, Mara Dyer’s life was normal. She had a best friend and had finally caught the eye of the boy she’d been drooling over. But all it took was one night to bring all the pieces of her life crashing down around her.

Now she wakes in a hospital, unable to remember the horrific accident that took the lives of both her boyfriend and her lifelong best friend. Unable to contemplate a life without her best friend, Mara convinces her family to start anew.

The Dyer family moves to a new city and Mara and her brothers start a new school, but Mara soon realizes that the troubles of the past are not so easy to leave behind. Not to mention the new troubles that come with this new life. Not only does she have a heap of school work to catch up on, but she finds it’s not so easy to make friends in this new school with its deeply entrenched social hierarchy.

Then Mara meets Noah. He’s at the top of the food chain and has both the good looks and the not so good reputation to match. No matter how much Mara keeps pushing him away, he won’t leave her alone. Then strange things start to happen to Mara and the only person she can turn to becomes the one she’d been trying to avoid. Can Noah save her from herself? Can he help her distinguish between what’s real and what’s not? Or will his own secrets be both their undoing?

This novel was a suggestion of one of my Goodreads bookclubs. It’s the kind of novel I love to read with a touch of paranormal in a normal young adult life. The character of Mara Dyer was highly refreshing. From the start, she’s not your average good girl. She’s crazy – in very real terms and she’s been through the wars. What a wonderful change from the perfect life of most teen heroines. Noah’s character was suitably mysterious and book-boyfriend-worthy. There were a few parts, like the Everglades scene, where I felt Mara’s reactions to him were not completely believable and there were too many unanswered questions surrounding him for me to feel completely satisfied.

The plot was well-paced and the overall story quite entertaining although I will say that the storyline with the legal case and Everglades felt a lot like it had been inserted as a last minute theme to setup the end scene’s moral dilemma. In terms of themes and messages, there are a few. Questions are raised about the power of the mind, about trying to start over without facing the demons of the past, and about the moral right to ‘play God’ with the lives of others, regardless of circumstances.

Overall, I enjoyed this novel – and I’m dying to know the outcome of that cliffhanger!

On a side note: I purchased an Audible copy of this book and was quite disappointed with the narration. It reminded me of Kindle text to speech. The cover, on the other hand, is one of my favorite ever!

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