Friday, December 30, 2011

"The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer" by Michelle Hodkin

Well, well, I have no idea where to start on my review. I saw other people's comments and reviews of this amazing book, and was surprised that there were so many 1- and 2- star ones. But then again, "Shatter Me" was brilliant and got those as well. So, I guess it's all due to personal taste and preference.
As it happens, my opinion is completely the opposite for I was pleasantly surprised by several things:
1. The writing was very well built, grammar and syntax wise, which is something I hold on the top of my *very important features of any novel* list, because honestly, typos and weird sentence structures distract me from the core of the story and I hate that. Believe it or not, lots of the books I've read recently need some serious post-publish editing. O.o This one does not.
2. I never thought that a novel might amuse and intrigue me more than Cassandra Clare's books, but this one was just as good.

And here's my review. Beware though - there are spoilers.

Mara Dyer wakes up after a state of coma, without the slightest clue how she got in the hospital. What's worse - she finds out that the accident that put her there three days before, killed her best friend, her boyfriend and his sister. She's numb, she's shaken, she's broken. She can't cope.
In the hope that going away from the memory-ridden place might do Mara some good, her family moves to Miami, Florida, where everything's new to her. New city, new house, new school, new friends. But new doesn't necessarily mean better. It doesn't mean that she'll stop seeing the faces of her lost friends, it doesn't mean that the accident would simply be undone, and it certainly doesn't mean that her memories won't flood back into her mind eventually.
Because they do. Slowly, in her dreams, Mara begins to remember, though she still doesn't understand. She's tortured by both reality and her daily hallucinations that threaten to take away her sanity.
Still, she's holding on, even if barely, to the little drop of sanity she's got left.
Because she's about to lose that too.
When she finds out that the two people she wished dead had ended up so in the exact manner she envisioned, she couldn't believe it. Did her wishful thinking have anything to do with it? No, things do not happen just because people wish them. An accident, a coincidence, a hallucination - her mind reasons, but she knows she's responsible somehow.
And she can't bear the thought. Because if it were true, what would that make her?

In the midst of all the insanity, a beautiful romance unfolds. The school's number one playboy, Noah Shaw, shows interest in the new girl. He woos Mara, sometimes driving her mad, but mostly making her fall for him. But she's been warned against him and his perfect looks, because brilliant, blond haired, delicious Noah Shaw is a flirt and a one night stand. Or well, such are the rumors.
Yet, when Noah saves Mara from the most embarrassing moment ever, she knows she owes him. Big. And he's not modest in asking for payback. Because he knows that Mara isn't quite normal. He isn't either. Which makes them the perfect pair.
If only they could last past the obstacles. And past Jude - Mara's supposedly-but-not-really-dead ex-boyfriend.

I was completely stunned by the extremely well developed characters. Every single one was uniquely described and played his/her role with poise.
* Mara was not a whiny, frail thing. Though her world was broken beyond repair, she found the strength to seek the truth about the accident and about herself. She was considerate of both her parents and her brothers, and she was ready to die for the safety and peace of mind of her beloved family.
* Noah was completely swoon worthy and unpredictable. He was also funny, sarcastic and reminded me very much of my most favorite boy of all times - Jace Herondale. He appears shallow, self-centered and extremely devoid of any real emotion, until he shows his real self.
* Daniel and Joseph - Mara's brothers - are both sweethearts, and I loved them to the core. They did everything they could to make Mara's life easier.
* Jamie - Mara's only friend in the new school - was hilarious. I can't count how many times he made me laugh, and I was very angry when he got suspended from school and pulled out of the book. Grhh!!!

Many favorite quotes came out of the pages, but I'm just going to share several:

"So how's the new school?"
"Why does everyone always ask me about school?" I said. "There are other things to talk about."
He feigned bafflement. "Like what?"
"Like the weather. Or sports."
"You hate sports."
"Ah, but I hate school more."
"Point taken," my dad said, smiling.

Noah placed the pack back in the top pocket of his shirt. "I don't have to smoke if it bothers you," he said, but the way he said it set me on edge.
"It doesn't bother me," I said. "If you don't mind looking forty years old at twenty, smelling like an ashtray, and getting lung cancer, why should I?"

"I'm sorry, is driving and talking too complicated? No problem, I'll shut up."

"Noah doesn't date. He'll screw you - literally and figuratively. Everyone knows it - his conquests know it - but they pretend not to care until he moves on to the next one. And then they're alone and their reputations are shot to hell."

"I have never read The Joy of Crap. Sounds disgusting." I blushed deeper. "I have, however, read The Joy of Sex," he continued, a mischievous smile transforming his face. "Not in a while, but I think it's one of those classics you can come back to again... and again."

"You're distracting," I said truthfully.
"I won't be. I promise," Noah said. "I'll get some crayons and draw quietly. Alone. In a corner."

My evaluation of this fabulous work of art is naturally