Monday, August 20, 2012

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer

(This review contains spoilers.) 

I bought and read The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer today. The cover art was so very beautiful and I had heard good things about the book. I was incalculably, unutterably disappointed.

The story is cliche, vapid and boring. Noah is the male love interest- and of course, he's British, sexy, speaks several languages and is loaded. He's been wanted by all the girls in the school but he falls for Mara. Mara has problems (due to having an abandoned sanitarium cave in on her and her three friends; they all died and she survived) and she's trying to deal with her issues (unsuccessfully). Her problems are supposed to be real and explain what it's like dealing with PTSD and hallucinations, but all they succeed in doing is painting a bizarre, offensive and insulting caricature of the real pain felt by those who have actually dealt with issues like these. (Compare, if you will, to a book like The Quiet Room- and weep).

Mara eventually discovers that she appears to possess the ability to kill people with her thoughts, whereas Noah, as yin to her yang, has the ability to heal people with his touch. After lots of disturbing possessive scenes in which Noah informs Mara that he wants her and she wants him, whether she verbally agrees with this or not, there's a scene in which Mara almost kills Noah (accidentally) and therefore decides she can't be with him. After this, her little brother is randomly kidnapped and Mara decides she needs to kill the kidnapper so that justice is served. Another woman shooting Mara's father (who was the kidnapper's lawyer) means that she is unable to complete the murder.

There is one twist in this otherwise unbelievably contrived, poorly written paranormal story. Mara's first boyfriend, Jude, was abusive and he almost, but not quite, raped her. (That's when her first episode happened- she caused a building to fall down on top of him and two of her friends; supposedly they all died, but she survived.) She keeps having visions of Jude and assumes that he is the trigger for the thoughts that cause her to kill people. Little does she know that in fact it may just be him (because somehow he survived the cave-in) and his presence that kills people, not her at all. This is ironic since Mara has decided to turn herself in to the authorities.

The story is a clear ripoff of teen sensations like 'Twilight,' 'The Vampire Diaries' and (oddly) '50 Shades of Grey.' There are lines in the book (such as the one regarding the blonde cheerleader dancing in Mara's head) that are definitely out of 50 Shades, Noah's ability to heal in the hospital is a cross between Dr. Cullen and the fact that vampire blood heals in 'The Vampire Diaries' TV show. Mara's struggle between good and evil is laughable (tinged as it is with melodrama and breathy, unbelievable concern for her cold-until-he-met-her boyfriend). And Noah really doesn't come off as a white knight (he's more like the creepy Edward Cullen, dismantling Bella's truck so that she can't leave) unless you pair him up against Jude, who was even worse.

This book is also hard to read due to the really ridiculous, gratuitous amount of profanity. One of my favorite books is the perks of being a wallflower by Stephen Chbosky, and he uses profanity, but his usage makes sense. So does the usage by Wally Lamb in 'I Know This Much is True.' But the profanity in this book (especially the many uses for the inappropriate word for 'posterior') is just jarring, grating and makes you want to rinse out Mara's mouth with soap.

Rating: 0 out of 5


Anonymous said...

quite appreciated the book review - hope more are on the way. meanwhile, i tap my toes impatiently for tamora pierce's latest...

The Cousin said...

Never good to have a bad read. Definitely not.

Granted, it's worse when once if forced ot read something horribly written as part of work.
(I had quite a few disastrous choices if you'd like) :)