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was sold to gypsies as a small child for half a tank of gas and a kitten. She was quickly, if not easily, retrieved by her mother after the kitten was revealed to be an Eldrich horror looking for a ride into the nearest metropolitan area to begin wreaking havoc. It's been a bone of contention between Maria and her family ever since, whether the Horror-kitten would've been more or less trouble than she grew up to be.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

WAYR 7/23/11: The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer

Lately, I've been wrestling with Michelle Hodkin's debut novel, The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer. And I mean wrestling in the best, most infuriating way ever.

TAC 11 Book #3: Despite my known abhorrence of headless figures on covers, I'm actually okay with it. This cover fits the tone of the book very well so far.
I'm not going to use the jacket description here, because it really doesn't describe much.

The premise is that Mara, our narrator and protagonist du jour, has just survived an accident that has left three of her friends dead. She has no memory of the event, including how her friends died, how she survived completely unscathed, or why they were even at the location of the accident. What she does know is that the accident has left her with increasingly intense hallucinations - the product of PTSD from the accident, her doctors tell her. While Mara is consumed by guilt for her friends deaths, fear of her deteriorating mental health, and frustration at the amnesia her own mind has enforced on her, the decision is made to move away from the constant reminders of her friends. Maybe, with reminders of the tragedy and her lost friends put behind her, Mara can move on with her life and begin to get well.

She doesn't.

The family's new home in Florida only seems to exacerbate Mara's problems with the additional stresses of a new school, a high profile court case her father has taken on, and an alluring if infuriating classmate with a rather daunting dating past.

I'm about halfway through as of this post and working myself back into reading the rest. I enjoy Hodkin's writing and it's easy to get wrapped up in Mara's unease as her mind betrays her and the tantalizing mystery of the accident as her memory regains bits and pieces of that night. In fact, the intensity of the writing in that regard is part of why I had to put it down - I get very empathetic toward characters in stressful situations; it's a real problem sometimes.

I like that Mara, as a character, is morally ambiguous. She's not obviously good, but she's not bad either. She's simply existing in her mind as it appears to be falling apart around her.While I think Libba Bray did it better in Going Bovine - and Madame Bray does just about everything better, I think - , Hodkin's imparts a believable sense of horror and fascination with what's going on.

There are a few things that are driving me crazy, though.

It can't quite seem to make up whether or not it's a paranormal thriller or a psychological one. There are certainly heavy aspects of both, but it can't quite seem to decide if it's one or the other, and it hasn't quite resolved itself enough to be both.

Also, love interest Noah is attractive in that way only fictional characters can be; too cool for school in a fictitious universe, the guy I and my friends used to harass mercilessly in real life. As a reader, I'm sure many a girl will lust after him, but I have a hard time seeing Mara falling for such an absolute asshole. She gets that he's cute, but she doesn't want a relationship - at least at the point of the book I'm at now, where everything is all tense and broody between them. Then again, she is going crazy....

Anyway, I'm curious to see how this book ends and will get back into as soon as I stop being such an over emotional wuss*. For those who care about such things, this IS part of a series. Michelle Hodkin's is working on Mara Dyer 2: Electric Boogaloo AT THIS VERY MOMENT. If you lack an ARC like moi, you can still visit the website at http://michellehodkin.com/ or talk to the author herself on Twitter.

Psychodelically Yours,

*That said, I'm going to go cry over Deathly Hallows some more.

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