Confessions (and Reviews) of a Teenage Readaholic, part 3

Teen reviewer Maris Dyer reviews Mara Dyer…wait—what?

Confession:  When I first received this book, I was terrified to read it. Not because it was a horror story or because of comments from other people who had read it, but because of the title: The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer. My name is Maris Dyer. Music from The Twilight Zone immediately started playing in my head. I knew that I had to read it, and see if Michelle Hodkin had inadvertently written the story of my life.

Review:   Unfortunately, I was sadly disappointed. Not only does Hodkin not know my inner secrets, her first book also comes off as stale.  The main character Mara Dyer is lacking in complexity and originality. She comes off as a cliché, a teenage girl who is drawn in by the enigmatic bad boy. The concept of the story itself is intriguing; it’s the execution that’s lacking. The book begins when Mara wakes up in a hospital. She has amnesia, and her family explains that she and her friends were in an abandoned building when it collapsed, killing everyone inside except for Mara. She transfers schools to escape her past, and in the first day meets Noah Shaw, a fellow student that everyone warns her to stay away from. Things get more complex when she begins to see the ghost of one of her friends who died in the collapse, and realizes that people around her have a strange tendency to die.

Hodkin, however, chooses to focus more on the romance between Mara and Noah. This, I believe, is the downfall of the book, because I was very interested in Mara’s quest to figure out the true cause of her friends’ deaths. Hodkin is a good writer, but I didn’t like the relationship between the two. At first, Noah has an air of mystery about him, but, too soon, he only comes off as a normal, arrogant guy. While Hodkin does an adequate job at keeping the plot cryptic, Noah and Mara’s romance unfolds exactly as I expected it to. Plus, I felt no connection to either one of the characters, making it very difficult for me to be engaged in the story.

This is the first book in a series, so Hodkin has room to grow as a writer. As I’ve said, her ideas are thought provoking, and it could be worth it to pursue the series as Mara and Noah mature as characters. Over all, though, I was not impressed. Hodkin has all of the right ingredients to make a good novel—she just needs to figure out how to combine them.

Well, I hope everyone had a great holiday season. I know I did—I just finished my last college application! That means I’ll actually have time to read all the books I’ve wanted to get to. Maybe I’ll find something great to share with all of you!

Maris

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