I WOKE UP ON THE MORNING OF SOME DAY IN SOME hospital to find a stranger sitting in my room.
I sat up gingerly—my shoulder was sore—and studied the stranger. She had dark brown hair that bled into gray at the roots, and hazel eyes with webs of crow’s feet at the corners. She smiled at me, and her whole face moved.
“Good morning, Mara,” she said.
“Good morning,” I said back. My voice was low and hoarse. It didn’t sound like my own.
“Do you know where you are?”
She obviously didn’t realize that the floor directory was positioned directly outside the window behind her, and that from the bed, I had a clear view. “I’m at the Lillian and Alfred Rice Psychiatric Unit.” Apparently.
“Do you know who I am?”
I had no idea, but I tried not to show it; she wouldn’t have asked me if we’d never met, and if we had met, I should remember her. “Yes,” I lied.
“What’s my name?”
Damn. My chest rose and fell quickly with my breath.
“I’m Dr. West,” she said evenly. Her voice was warm and friendly but not at all familiar. “We met yesterday, when you were brought in by your parents and a detective by the name of Vincent Gadsen.”
“Do you remember?”
I remembered seeing my father lying pale and wounded in a hospital bed after he was shot by the mother of a murdered girl.
I remembered that I was the one who made her do it.
I remembered going to the police station to confess to stealing my teacher’s EpiPen and releasing fire ants in her desk, which is why she died of anaphylactic shock.
I remembered that it wasn’t true—just a lie I would feed the police so they would keep me from hurting anyone I loved again. Because they wouldn’t believe I wished my teacher dead and that not long after, she died. Choked to death on a swollen tongue, exactly the way I imagined she would.
I remembered that before I could tell anyone any of this, I saw Jude at the Thirteenth Precinct of the Metro Dade Police Department. Looking very much alive.
But I did not remember coming here to the hospital. I didn’t remember being brought. After Jude appeared, I remembered nothing else.
“You were admitted yesterday afternoon,” the stranger—Dr. West—said. “The detective called your parents when they couldn’t get you to stop screaming.”
I closed my eyes and saw Jude’s face as he walked by me. Brushed past me. Smiled. The memory stained the backs of my eyelids, and I opened them quickly, just to see something else.
“You told them that your boyfriend, Jude Lowe, who you thought died in a building collapse in December, is alive.”
“Ex,” I said quietly, fighting to stay calm.
Dr. West tilted her head slightly and employed her carefully neutral psychologist expression, one I recognized well since I’d seen it often on my psychologist mother. Particularly in the past few months.
“You said that you caused the abandoned asylum in Rhode Island to collapse, crushing your best friend, Rachel, and Jude’s sister, Claire, inside. You said Jude sexually assaulted you, which is why you tried to kill him. And you said he survived. You said he’s here.”
She was perfectly calm as she spoke, which magnified my panic. Those words in her mouth sounded crazy, even though they were true. And if Dr. West knew, then so did—
“Your mother brought you here for an evaluation.”
My mother. My family. They would have heard the truth too, even though I hadn’t planned to tell it. Even though I didn’t remember telling it.
And this was where it got me.
“We didn’t begin yesterday because you were sedated.”
My fingers wandered up my arm, beneath the short sleeve of my white T-shirt. There was a Band-Aid on my skin, covering what must have been the injection site.
“Where is she?” I asked, picking at the Band-Aid.
“Where is who?”
“My mother.” My eyes scanned the hallway through the glass, but I didn’t see her. The hall looked empty. If I could just talk to her, maybe I could explain.
“She’s not here.”
That didn’t sound like my mother. She didn’t leave my side once when I was admitted to the hospital after the asylum collapsed. I told Dr. West as much.
“Would you like to see her?”
“Okay, we can see if we can work that out later.”
Her tone made it sound like that would be a treat for good behavior, and I didn’t like it. I swung my legs over the bed and stood up. I was wearing drawstring pants, not the jeans I last remembered myself in. My mother must have brought them from home. Someone must have changed me. I swallowed hard. “I think I want to see her now.”
Dr. West stood up as well. “Mara, she isn’t here.”
“Then I’ll go find her,” I said, and started looking for my Chucks. I crouched to look under the bed, but they weren’t there.
“Where are my shoes?” I asked, still crouched.
“We had to take them.”
I rose then, and faced her. “Why?”
“They had laces.”
My eyes narrowed. “So?”
“You were brought here because your mother thought you may be a danger to yourself and others.”
“I really need to talk to her,” I said then, struggling to keep my voice even. I bit down hard on my bottom lip.
“You’ll be able to.”
“Well, I’d like you to speak with someone first, and have a doctor come in, just to make sure you’re—”
“And if I don’t want to?”
Dr. West just looked at me. Her expression was sad.
My throat wanted to close. “You can’t keep me here unless I consent,” I managed to say. I knew that much, at least. I was a lawyer’s daughter and I was seventeen years old. They couldn’t keep me here unless I wanted to be kept. Unless—
“You were screaming and hysterical and you slipped. When one of our nurses tried to help you up, you punched her.”
“It became an emergency situation, so under the Baker Act, your parents were able to consent for you.”
I whispered so I wouldn’t scream. “What are you saying?”
“I’m sorry, but you’ve been involuntarily committed.”
Michelle Hodkin grew up in Florida, went to college in New York, and studied law in Michigan. She is the author of the Mara Dyer trilogy, including The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer, The Evolution of Mara Dyer, and The Retribution of Mara Dyer. Visit her online at MichelleHodkin.com.
"Haunting and dreamlike, the intrigue and romance of Mara Dyer will inescapably draw you in." --Cassandra Clare, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Mortal Instruments and The Infernal Devices series
"The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer strikes a rare balance of darkly funny, deliciously creepy and genuinely thoughtful. One minute I was laughing out loud, and the next, I was so scared I wanted to turn on all the lights and hide under the covers. Michelle Hodkin's talent and range are obvious, from her chilling descriptions to romantic scenes that almost crackled on the page. I've never read anything quite like it."--Veronica Roth, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Divergent
"A clever, captivating thriller, The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer is perfect for those (like me) who like their heroes dark, their heroines dangerous, and their romances seriously twisted." --Kirsten Miller, New York Times bestselling author of The Eternal Ones
"WOW. Michelle Hodkin's debut will keep you guessing until the last page--and long after." --Beth Revis, New York Times bestselling author of Across the Unviverse
"As spooky and twisty as it is lyrical and beautiful, The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer grabbed me and wouldn't let go. Read this one with the lights on." --Rachel Hawkins, New York Times bestselling author of Demonglass
Reviews of The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer:
There are echoes of Stephen King's classic Carrie in this young-adult series kickoff...Hodkin's transitions from the mundane to hallucinated horror are unexpected, seamless and creepy, packing the same sort of cinematic punch as scenes from The Blair Witch Project....Discerning the truth is just part of the pleasure of reading the delightfully bent reality in The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer. --Los Angeles Times
"It's the story of a girl trying to piece together what happened the night she, her best friend, her boyfriend and his sister spent the night in an abandoned asylum and only she survived, unscathed but traumatized...And it's the story of a girl falling in love...Be careful, 'cause you'll fall right along with her." --MTV's Hollywood Crush
"Hodkin's debut is witty and thought-provoking and will have readers captivated until the very end. It takes readers through constant chaos, wonder, and bewilderment...The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer will satisfy mystery lovers, dark fantasy seekers, horror believers, and readers who have a knack for romance." --VOYA
"Anyone who thinks old-fashioned romantic scenes can’t move teens today will be proven wrong here. This boy will make readers swoon. The characters are real and wonderful, and the supernatural story is riveting. Expect this book to fly off the shelves." --School Library Journal
"Creepy, haunting, addictive and surprisingly romantic, Mara’s story is beautiful and complex...Hodkin has elevated the teenage paranormal romance into something completely her own." --Romantic Times
"First-time author Hodkin has paired a steamy romance with a paranormal mystery that will cause teen readers whiplash as they jerk from one plot twist to another." --Booklist
"A strong, inventive tale." --Kirkus Reviews
"[Hodkin] keeps readers’ interest focused throughout with a lively prose style and a bit of romance. Her skillful exploitation of ambiguity enhances the suspense…Readers will be guessing until a final suspenseful scene resolves some secrets and sets up what promises to be an exciting and intriguing next installment. Interesting and unusual.”
– Kirkus Reviews
"Just as in the first book of the series (The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer, 2011), this will have readers doubting Mara’s sanity, trusting the mental health professionals, and suspicious of Noah’s intentions. Readers will eagerly await the concluding title."
"This second volume brings some answers, a lot more questions, and another cliff-hanger ending....The heat gets turned up a notch."