Hmmmm...still trying to dissect precisely what I feel about Michelle Hodkin's young adult novel, The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer. Unbecoming is a very interesting word choice for a paranormal title, and could be interpreted several different ways, and I'm still not sure exactly what the author is trying to convey with its use, though my best guess is that it is akin to Unraveling or Undoing. If nothing else, how Mara acts throughout is indeed Unbecoming in all senses of the word.
Mara Dyer is not an easy character to like. Though she's been through a major tragedy with her best friend and two others (including her boyfriend, though his loss seems to be not that great really) being killed in the collapse of an old asylum the four were "investigating", she's still not a very nice person. Almost every word out of her mouth is defensive, and the fact that her entire family actually moved to a new state for her to start over doesn't really bring out the best in her at all. With her entry into a new, elite school, Mara has difficulty making friends and she does little to change that status. Of course she is dealing with Big Things: since the accident, which she doesn't remember, Mara has been experiencing increasingly bizarre and frightening hallucinations, seeing her dead friends alive, watching her classroom collapse, seeing artwork turn into branches encroaching on her from all sides. When she finally agrees to therapy, she's hopeful that she can put all the weird behind her. But naturally that's not so, especially when death continues to follow her.
There's a romance in The Unbecoming, with mysterious, handsome British guy Noah almost instantly taken with Mara upon her arrival in his school; Noah's got a player reputation and Mara does her best to put him off, but Noah won't take no for an answer. As the story progresses, so does their relationship, and it soon becomes apparent that Noah's got some major secrets, too. Though I liked Noah, I'm still not sure I buy into the romance as it just seems so unlikely, even given what happened to Noah "before"...but he and his endless supply of money do move the story along conveniently, and he does add to the mystery.
Overall, I liked The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer, though it was less about Mara than the other characters and the mystery surrounding her. The book takes a while to set up the story and drags Mara's condition out irritatingly until about midway. In fact, I had to think carefully before giving this one a 4 star rating, but the mystery is interesting and Mara's descent into possible madness was worth the ride. I'm in for the series.