The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer – Michelle Hodkin – Book Review (SPOILERS)

I am currently of two minds about this book. Having just finished it, I am still oscillating between amused interest and irritated indignation.

Following the Twilight destruction phenomenon, a spate of wanna-be teenage angsty star-crossed lovers ‘novels’ started to come out, all aimed at young people and all of them the same.

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Mara Dyer Book 1 started with a very interesting (although not at all original) premise. The reader is unsure whether Mara is suffering from post-traumatic stress psychosis or if there’s something else. We see flashes of the truth, but the narrator is fallible, so we are still not sure what is happening. Everything is exciting, mysterious and a tad uncanny.

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And then, everything goes to rot.

Enter Noah – the new Edward. Perfect in every sense, every girl wants him, but for some strange inexplicable reason he only wants quite, introvert Bella.. er I mean Mara. Noah is elusive and special. Rich and adored. And he has special powers! Surprise, surprise!

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By the way, have I mentioned Noah’s equally perfect ex who bullies Mara with the help of her friend the blonde-Mr America? Are all the characters so beautiful and picture perfect? Yes! Gods even this is enough to irritate the hell out of me! Where are the fat chicks, the pimpled cowards, the bitchy sluts and the insecure people you REALLY find in every school in existence?!

Anyways, to be fair, there are many differences which tend to try and put Mara Dyer outside the Twilight zone… maybe I have become too adept at perceiving similarities everywhere? Hmm… Maybe it’s just me? Or not?

Anyways, Bella… I mean Mara, feels physical attraction towards Noah, but he keeps back (even though apparently he’s shagged every other thing in skirts), because… well no actual reason is given. He just refuses her advances… sounds familiar? To make matters even more… *cough*cough* cheesy, we realize that Mara too has special powers! Oh these two are so special! Their special powers complement each other so specially, driving the point home that, as Noah said ‘We are made for each other’… honestly, the syrupy sweetness is enough to curdle bacon.

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And yet… there could be something there… something more…

Maybe it’s just the awesome book-cover which is still getting to me lol (for some reason it seems familiar too…?)

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Yes, I’m going to start reading the second book of the trilogy, ‘The Evolution of Mara Dyer’… maybe it will get better.

I surely hope it won’t be worse.

Anime Review – Shiki – A Japanese Vampire-Story

Genre – Horror
No. of Episodes – 24
Anime released in – 2010
My Overall Grading – 3 Stars

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Shiki was a random find. I’ve been combing the anime market for good horrors/psychological thrillers for ages now, and wanted something good with a Japanese cultural flavor. Shiki seemed to fit the bill, even though the romaticised vampire plot-line made me a bit wary, since we’ve seen sentimentalized semi-pornographic versions of it so many times before.

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The anime itself was quite good. It sports Higurashi-like traits, in that it is set in a small, almost cut off, town in rural Japan, with its own customs and legends, where, obviously, something strange starts to happen during one hot Summer, when a large number of people start to mysteriously die off. There the story totally deviates from Higurashi however, in that, although interesting and at times, agonizingly full of emotion, the characters in this anime somehow still fail to gain that certain depth of perspective and credibility. The characters in Shiki are thin, cardboard-like and insubstantial. Although we are given sketchy backgrounds of almost each one, we know that the ten-minute background interlude is gifted to us each time, exactly before said character either dies (which does not mean that they do not actively appear on-screen any more) or otherwise falls into some misfortune. The characters never evolve, they never develop, and, alive or dead, their reactions are hardly credible or even probable.

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That being said, the art used in Shiki is very pleasing, when portraying kawai characters like Sunako, but totally irritating with bland ones like Kaori – and seriously, what’s with all the stupid bombastic hairstyles? And the BOOBS… Lol. Anyways, the guys are all hot, and I loved Megumi’s fashion sense too ;p

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I also loved the fact that in the end, we are so steeped in the lore of the town of Sotoba, that we don’t even see the undead as vampires anymore, but we really and truly perceive them as Shiki. They are blood-thirsty, they are romanticized, but in the end, like their human counterparts, the Shiki just want to live a normal life, they are afraid, they make mistakes, they need help – but no one helps them. The (hot) priest Seishin perfectly persnonalizes the troublesome issue everyone in the village, not to mention we the viewers, feel – the Shiki are parents, friends, husbands, sisters, mothers, loved ones who are just trying to survive – is killing them murder, or is it just self-defence?

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Although the characters leave something to be desired, the issues presented by this anime are quite clear and very deep. In the end, I couldn’t, however, give the anime 4 stars as it still had something lacking, but I would still recommend it.

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