Saturday, January 14, 2012

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer, Michelle Hodkin

Title: The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer
Author: Michelle Hodkin (author website)
Release Date: Feb. 1st Release by Simon & Schuster Australia
Age Group: Young Adult
Genre: Not telling ;) Let's say Mystery
My Rating:1 star2 star3 star4 starhalf star

I’m in shock. The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer has nearly left me with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Is Post Unbreafreakinglievable Book Disorder a thing? Well. Mara Dyer is a rare beastie indeed. Twisty, dark and haunting, Michelle Hodkin’s remarkable debut left me guessing from the very beginning, to the very end, and long, long past that.

From Goodreads:
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.

I’m not joking about the state Mara Dyer left me in. Shock is the only word for it. Or perhaps a quivering ball of nerves. I wish you could have seen my face as I read the final chapter of the book. A tap-dancing tortoise bursting into my living room to the tune of Hey Ya! could not have elicited as strong a response. Hauntingly reminiscent of a teenage Shutter Island, Mara Dyer has garnered a lot of gushing reviews. It deserves them all.


We join Mara as she wakes in a hospital room. She doesn’t know where, how or why, and so, from the very beginning, we’re thrown in the deep end along with her. Mara’s friends are dead in an accident she doesn’t remember, but miraculously survived. Her world’s turned upside down, and she’s now suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). To pre-empt her psychologist mother having her put in a residential care program, Mara herself suggests they move. A fresh start. Move from the memories and shocking events. And so, before we know it, we find ourselves in Florida along with Mara.

Mara is... sick. Truly. Suffering the effects of her PTSD, she experiences waking dreams and hallucinations. She’s haunted by the memories—or perhaps ghosts—of her dead friends. As the book blurs from dreams to reality and back again, the narrative flows so smoothly, you’re given the sense of hallucinating right along with her. Mara is unravelling, and struggling, and there’s this eerie feeling of menace—of being watched—hanging over her throughout the book. My oh my is she a splendid protagonist though. Intelligent and wry, the book sparkles with Mara’s wit and humour, despite it’s incredibly heavy subject and increasingly dark tone. Despite Mara’s emotional and psychological fragility, she’s brave, stoic, and desperately trying to play with the cards she’s been dealt. She’s compelling, and her, well, unbecoming is fascinating and frightening.

Nearest and Dearest

As you’d hope with a book named after her, Mara is extraordinary. Layered, nuanced, unpredictable, but always believable. I loved this. But one of the brightest lights in the story are Mara’s friends and family. From Mara’s lone new friend at high school, Jamie, to her mother, amazing older brother (I WANT Daniel as my older brother!) and adorable and hilarious younger brother, Joseph, there is a cast of supportive, well rounded characters in this book. And they ground it. Whether endearing or contemptible school bullies, I was engaged, I cared.

Noah. Effing. Shaw.

You’ve no doubt heard about Noah Shaw at this point. Perhaps even warned.
Mara was, and it didn’t help. It didn’t work for me, either.

Gorgeous. British. Badboy.The chemistry between Noah and Mara is electric, and the teasing and banter between the two is delicious. But this is not the dreaded insta-love. There is an instant flirtation, yes, but that’s it. As Noah carefully insinuates himself in to Mara’s life, and the two get to know each other, we watch another part of Mara unravel... but in a good way. Oh Noah was a delight. Layered, cheeky, reckless, beautiful, and just as broken as Mara in his own way, Noah has secrets of his own—just as big as Mara’s. And that’s... pretty huge.

A Riddle Wrapped in a Mystery Inside an Enigma

Oh my word Mara Dyer kept me guessing to the last page. Every time I thought I’d figured a mystery out or gathered a clue, it blew up or slipped away. Masterfully crafted and impossible to pin down, the mystery is far larger than one book, or, it would seem, one broken girl. As Hodkin carefully offers ephemeral clues and small scraps of information, she deliberately muddies the waters. For every question answered, she creates several more bigger, trickier, even more terrifying. The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer is clearly the first in a series, and I’m unbelievably excited and terrified to see where this goes. There is a bigger game being played in Mara Dyer... and I still have no idea what it is.

The Verdict:

Gathering my scattered thoughts enough to create a meaningful sentence renders this the hardest review I’ve ever had to write. It left me speechless. Guys, that doesn’t happen often. Getting better and better as it goes along, it’s a slow build from strange to stranger to ‘OH MY GOD WHAT’S GOING AND HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO LIVE OR BREATH OR FUNCTION WITHOUT MOREMOREMORE RIGHT NOW.’ The mystery within its pages had me guessing and grasping at straws, and the ending—well, the entirety—has left me in shock. I raced through its pages with my heart racing, and its haunting me now it’s over. Confusing, disturbing, dark and twisted, The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer is extraordinary. It should come with a warning: This book will mess with your mind.

Books in This Series

  1. The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer (February 2012)
  2. The Evolution of Mara Dyer (slated for 2012/2013 release)

Want More of Mara? Read These Reviews:

  1. Eleusinian Mysteries of Reading
  2. Forget Me Not
  3. Dazzling Reads
  4. Tales of The Inner Book Fanatic
An enormous thank you to Simon & Schuster Australia for sending me a review copy of The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer!


  1. Sounds great!! I wanted to start reading this book a week ago, but I totally fell into romance, and kind of put it aside :/ I should really pick it up! Great review!! :) ;)

  2. Nea, it's AMAZING! I hope you can get to it soon, and love it as much as I did :)

    1. I've read it!! At the beginning I loved it!! TOTALLY! But I must admit in the last 100 pages.. Good God, I was so confused :/ I didn't know anymore what was real and what wasn't :P But it was so so good! :) Thanks so so much for recommending it to me :) It was a compelling read! I've been reading it the whole night and finished it at 2PM :P Couldn't stop :P

  3. How awesome is this book? I loved loved loved this series and is totally dying to read the next book. glad you enjoyed this too! Great review sarah,


  4. my dear!! muah muha muah!!! what an awesome review!! my favorite section is, of course, Noah. Effing, Shaw! hohohoohoh!! Btw, it didnt work for me either hohohohoho!! I was totally shocked too! Im SO SO SO super happy that you loved this book as much as I! and I totally agree the books build from strange to strangest XD LOL! I was totally What-da-feck-ing while reading Mara huhuhuhu!!
    awesome review my sweet! muah!! and thanks so much for linking my review =DDDDD you are soooo sweet ^^ muah!

  5. Yes! YES. This.

    I finished reading this book and instantly wanted to reread it.

    Also, do you remember when Tara created PABD?

    1. Mwahaha! YESSSSS! I used 'PABD' as a label when I shelve things in Goodreads XD

  6. OMG Sarah!!! DO you know how much I swooned when reading your review? NOAH has captured my heart from the very first moment I read the book!!!! I do find the prologue a bit confusing (the letter Mara wrote) because it just didn't connect to the whole story. Maybe the sequel would explain Mara's fake name? SO GLAD YOU LOVED THIS BOOK!! I can't wait for the sequel. And thank you so much for linking my review of the book! As always, awesome review!! :)

    1. YESSSSS! The prologue is a total trip! I can't wait for the next book and the one after to explain what it meeeeaaannns!

  7. "A tap-dancing tortoise bursting into my living room to the tune of Hey Ya! could not have elicited as strong a response."

    LMAO!! LMAO!! LMAO!! *stops to catch her breath*

    Sarah, you're so incredibly eloquent! Also, you're too funny and NSFW as a result! How do I explain my crazy bursts of laughter to my supervisor??

    Anyhoo, I absolutely LOVE your review and now I can't wait to read Mara Dyer!!!!

    I DIE.

    1. Kristin, I <3 yooouuu!

      This is what we will tell your supervisor. Yes :D

  8. Hi - Stopping by for Follow Friday!

  9. YAY soooooooo glad to hear you loved this one as much as I did!!!! Noah is AMAZING and the ending is sooooooooooooooo annoying!!! I NEED to know what happens next..I can't wait to read the sequel. I have so many more questions :) Great review!!!


  10. I'm pretty sure Post Unfreakingbelievable Book Disorder is a real thing. We should petition for its inclusion in that bid book of psychological disorders :P

    I loved this one too! The suspense was just amazing.

  11. Jeeze, girl. You gave me chills. I am a little scared to even think of reading this book. Just promise me you're not going to simultaneious combust with excitement cuz I think your on the verge. haha

    Jennifer @ Reading and Writing Urban Fantasy and Paranormal Romance

    1. *takes deep breath* I might... just *might* be OK *takes cold shower*
      Hehe :D

  12. I WANT TO MARRY YOUR REVIEWS. It'll be a love/hate marriage and I may try to murder them over the course of our love when they continually outshine mine, but my devotion will always burn bright.

    Um, so, you freaking hit every nail on the head with this. It's perfect, Sarah!

    NOAH F****** SHAW.
    THE MIND F********.
    THE ****** **** *** ***** **** ***. (your blog is PG right? Sigh.)

    How does one even begin to wrap their head around everything after the ending? I think it's easier to just let your brain explode into a gazillion pieces and try to rebuild a new one.

    1. I now pronounce you Brodie & Saz101's reviews husband and wife:D haha

    2. Psh! Honestly, I basically wanted to copy + paste your review for Mara Dyer, but I figured someone would get upset about it somewhere, and use big words like 'plagiarism'. Pfft.

      Hmmm, and the PG? Well, it depends on the day, I think. Rarely 'R', but sometimes MA :D

      So many questions: the shop, the grandma, the rolex, the shooting *shakes head* so confused and it's aaaaammmaaaaaazzzinng!

      Racquel: I laughed so hard from your comment I'm glad I didn't have a mouthful of coffee, or it would have gone EVERYWHERE XD

  13. GAAAH! I'm so excited to read this--have been for a while, but I'm even more-so now. It's sitting on my shelf looking all pretty. I half wanna dive into it due to all the fan-freaking-tastic reviews I've seen and all the raving, ranting and love for this book, but I'm scared......I don't wanna wait for the sequel when I love it like I know I will! LOL.

    Amazing review Sarah!! As always. xx

    1. Oh my goodness, Rachel, it's SO. GOOD.
      The ending is... yes... cliffhangery, but it's one of those ones where it's worth the pain: promise ;)

  14. Wonderful review! I have to move this book to my top to-read pile; sounds amazing!

  15. I've read so many good things about this book I really need to read it now!!! Great review :)

  16. Your verdict pretty much sums up my thoughts nicely! I absolutely loved this one. Especially Noah! Oh Noah. I need the sequel like nowwwww. *desperate* And of course, as always, awesome review!



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