Michelle Hodkin: The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer

Read When Safe

Mara Dyer doesn’t think life can 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 mysteriously unharmed.
There is.

She doesn’t believe that after everything she’s been through, she can fall in love.
She’s wrong.

Normally, my reading journal is 80% quotes, 20% thoughts. This time, it’s all thoughts, no quotes. There’s a lot to unpack here, and I’m not really sure how to feel about this book.

I went into Unbecoming not really knowing much about it. I picked up the hardback series at a library sale–I don’t normally find a full set at a time, so I bought them even without a backbone of knowledge. Why not, right?

I was pleasantly surprised, at first, to find a main character with PTSD in a nonmilitary setting. We find ourselves smack dab in the middle of her disorder too–which makes Mara an unreliable narrator. Much of the book is “which end is up?” This is why I’ve marked the book Read When Safe, as much of the book could be triggering to someone with PTSD or any mental illness with a faulty sense of perception or delusion. Mara has a supportive family, and her mother takes her to therapy and encourages psychiatric care when she needs it. We see the normalization of therapy and medication in a healthy way–the conversation she has with her psychiatrist is in a safe, nonthreatening environment. I do think if someone would have explained the purpose of an antipsychotic, without her having to Google it, that would have been better, but I do have to give credit to the author for this section of the book.

Along with the good, however, the book does have some problematic elements. Noah is constantly calling Mara “his girl.” He’s extremely possessive, which is unhealthy in a normal relationship, let alone in Mara’s vulnerable state. He plays on her mental illness quite a bit, and I can’t decide if he truly wants to help her, or just wants her to stay in a constant state for his own purposes. She’s trying to find her way out of her locked brain, and he doesn’t seem to want to let her do that.

I also felt like Noah’s “situation” came out of nowhere. I won’t spoil what happens for you, but I just found it very weird and it only added to the toxicity of their relationship. It makes him feel like he has more of a right to her brain, and I’m not ok with that.

I have the other two books, so I’ll keep going with the series, but I am extremely iffy on them. It’s a fast paced, character driven novel and it’s easy to go with the flow of it, but I felt it got problematic pretty quick. I want to like the PTSD representation, but it isn’t as good as it could have been. I’m not even so much giving the next two books the benefit of the doubt…just, all doubt. Hopefully they change my mind.

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