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Publisher: Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2012
Material: hard cover
Summary: When Mara Dyer wakes up in the hospital, she learns that her closest friends died in a building collapse. She survived. The doctor’s diagnose her with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Because she can't handle the loss, she makes her family move to a new town. Moving away from her accident, however, doesn’t move her away from her problems. At her new school, Mara consistently sees one of her friends who was killed in the accident. At the same time, a strange boy in her class, Noah, seems to know more about her than she does and is persistent with becoming close to her… This fast-paced paranormal romance for young adults is a high interest / low readability book.
Type of Reading: independent reading, read aloud book
Recommended Age: read together: 14 and Up; read yourself: 14 and Up
Young Reader Reaction: I really enjoyed the unreliable narrator. You never know what’s real and what’s not. It is such a thrill to read! The love interest is also very swoon-worthy (and I don’t throw that term around often!). The big reveal hooked me on the series - Mara Dyer has just the right amount of missing information to keep readers guessing and glued to the book. I disliked how the beginning of the book was like a horror movie. It doesn’t last very long, so if you can get through that, you'll get through the rest of the book. The PTSD is also hard to read about sometimes.
I would recommend this book for ages 14+. Because of the PTSD, this can be a heavy book. The book handles a lot of mature topics surrounding death. Some gruesome scenes (even if they aren’t real) are intense and not for the faint of heart. Even with these cautions, I recommend this series. The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer would be a perfect gift for anybody interested in the psychological thriller/horror genre, or who likes unreliable narrators.
Adult Reader Reaction: Review pending.
Pros: The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer is thrilling from beginning to end. It also opens the readers eyes to the realities of PTSD.
Cons: As mentioned above, there are gruesome scenes. Despite the thrill of the mystery, some readers may find it too graphic.
Borrow or Buy: Borrow. This is a must read for young adults and adults who love realistic fiction, thrillers, and paranormal romance. You may ultimately want to buy the book, but get it at the library first to see if the weight of some plot points are too much.
Educational Themes: Many young adults have probably heard about PTSD, but don't know what it is. Even as a fictional story, there is knowledge to be gained. The unreliable narrator can also be a discussion opener about what is real (or not) and how one discovers the truth.
Notes: A Reading Tub® volunteer submitted this review. She borrowed the book from their local library.
Literary Categories: Fiction - young adult series, mystery, fantasy, family
Date(s) Reviewed: March 2015
Other Reviews: See Critics' Reviews and reader feedback at amazon.com and barnesandnoble.com.