Monday, September 8, 2014

Audiobook Review: The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin

Title: The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer (Mara Dyer #1)
Author: Michelle Hodkin
Narrator: Christy Romano
Publication Date: September 27, 2011
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
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Reviews for book 2 & book 3

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.

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer has been on my to-read list since it was released. I've looked at it and thought about it and almost started it and put it back several times. But about a week ago I decided to take a break from The Wheel of Time series after finishing Fires of Heaven (those books take a lot of work) and went to find a new audiobook to listen to. This is what I landed on. Now I'm pissed I didn't read it sooner.

When Mara wakes up in the hospital to find her best friend and boyfriend have died, she's devastated. To ease her back into society, her family agrees to move to Florida, where she starts fresh at a new school. Her new BFF, Jamie, warns her against Noah almost immediately, which I guess makes sense amidst high school gossip (admittedly, it's been awhile since I've been there). Somewhat predictably, Noah pursues her, she tries to resist and can't, etc.

There are quite a few obvious cliches within Mara's new private school - the bisexual best friend, the slutty mean girl, and the irritatingly muscular asshole. But I guess that's to be expected. I found the dynamics within the school to be a little unbelievable at times, but hey, it's fiction. Something that seemed a little ridiculous was the way Mara made such a huge deal about how rich the other students were. Um... so her mom is a psychologist and her dad is a lawyer. Yeah, she must be poor.

I've seen a lot of people complain that this book is a romance masquerading as paranormal and I'd tend to disagree. I thought the paranormal aspects of the book were well explored and the romance was convincing enough. It didn't feel forced at all, in my opinion, and it made sense within the circumstances presented.

I've also seen reviews that complain about Noah being a jerk, but I didn't get "jerk" from him. I've read a lot of books with borderline-abusive love interests (Fifty Shades, Beautiful Disaster, etc.) and Noah didn't fit the bill. That being said, he did have some curious similarities to Christian Grey: pants "hanging loose" on his hips, his love of classical music, his "bare, unlived in" bedroom, extensive library, musical talents, and ordering Mara's food for her, to name a few. But I guess these are "in" behaviors for love interests at the moment. In any case, they really didn't subtract from his character - for me, at least. The main thing that bugged me about Noah was really about Mara. She calls him "perfect" about 7,003 times in this book. The only time I've called a man perfect was -before- I really knew him. Noah isn't perfect.

Now, Mara... I didn't dislike her, but I didn't love her either. At times she seemed like kind of an idiot. For example, thinking everything Noah did was a trick and almost being purposely dense about his feelings for her. Or when he took her to his house and she was unable to put two and two together. But I did like her and I felt for her as she struggled through discovering herself. I was overjoyed that she wasn't super dramatic like some other heroines, purposely separating themselves from true love to protect their love interest. I hate that. One thing that seemed a little ridiculous - does Mara not have a smart phone? She dials 411 twice...

The paranormal aspects of this book were original and I like original. It seems like anyone can write a vampire or werewolf romance, but this was different. I loved how things slowly unraveled instead of being presented all at once. I wasn't totally sure what was going on until close to the end, but maybe I'm just slow. The ending was totally unexpected and made me think back to several other scenes.

I'll definitely be getting The Evolution of Mara Dyer immediately! Seriously, if you're like me and have been waiting for three years to read this book, hurry it up. You won't regret it!

°o°  Notes on the Audiobook  °o°
Christy Romano was by no means a -bad- narrator, but she wasn't perfect either. The accent she used for Noah was... weird. He was supposed to be from London and, while I'm no expert on accents, I watch a lot of TV and it was just off for me. There were also multiple places where she says something in a totally normal voice and follows it with, "he whispered," or, "I shouted." Um, no, you didn't. Despite the issues I had with her narration, the voice of Mara was convincing.