Review: The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin

Review: The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin
The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer
Mara Dyer #1
by Michelle Hodkin

Genres: Drama, Mystery, Paranormal, Psychological, Romance, Thriller, Young Adult
Publication date: September 27, 2011
by Simon and Schuster Children's Publishing

Format: Paperback


Amazon | Book Depository

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 have been putting of reading this book for years. Claims that this book’s similar to Hush, Hush was the main reason why I was dreading this novel. My ratings for both books are similar, but I can’t exactly say that they’re similar.

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer started off strongly. Have you read Dangerous Girls by Abigail Haas? The holy-crap-I’m scared feeling I got from that opening was similar to how I felt when I started Mara Dyer. It’s probably one of my favorite openings of all time.

The first few chapters continued to intrigue me. Mara was having all these super creepy hallucinations that made me want to hide under a blanket and call my mommy. Plus there were all these mysterious deaths…

That’s basically all I liked about this book. As for the things I didn’t like… Well:

1. Mara was a real bitch. This girl has no sense of respect for her elders whatsoever, and she goes around judging all the females around her. She goes around talking back to her teachers (without good reason, I’d say) and slut-shaming every single female she encounters. See these examples:

– Mara describes a girl in a costume as a girl attired in what could only be describe as “slutty Gryffindor” apparel.
– Some girl-on-girl hate from the same chapter:

Noah listened raptly to whatever she was saying, and a semi-circle of costumed girls surrounded her; a devil, a cat, an angel, and… a carrot? I liked vegetable girl, but the rest of them I hated.

2. The romance was a huge what the fuckIt was your typical rich man-whore who suddenly believes he’s found The One and completely changes and becomes a one-woman guy just for her. After a couple of meetings, they’re suddenly going on dates and promising that they’re in this shit together.

3. This is the part where I cringe and disappointingly say that I didn’t love Noah Shaw. There. I said it. He had his gentlemanly moments (like when he adorably tied Mara’s shoelaces for her), but generally he was way too hot-and-cold. One minute, he’s being a sweet and caring boyfriend, and the next he becomes a very possessive and fucking arrogant douchebag.

4. I couldn’t understand much once I reached the 70% mark. The story began to seem cluttered and messy right about then, and I constantly had to go back a few pages to understand what was happening. I didn’t get most of the events that lead up to the ending. A shame, really, after such a beautiful start.

Overall, The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer definitely didn’t live up to its potential. What could’ve been a scary paranormal tale fell flat and turned into an angst-y teen romance. But despite all of my many qualms, I still plan to continue this series after I met the super friendly and adorable Michelle Hodkin.

Rating Report
Overall: 2.3
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Aimee is a sixteen year old bookworm from the Phillipines! She reads any book that catches her attention, but she mostly reads YA. She's into graphic design, writing and sleeping. You can find her at Deadly Darlings, The Book Geek, Goodreads and on Twitter.

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  1. Laila BC says

    ha! i do understand about the bitchy and golden boy part…it was my very very first impression when i first read this one. but do go on with the series…because i like the second book better so they both grew on me…i think this book is a love/hate kind of thing for me…like i did with the Shatter Me series.

  2. says

    I thought the problem was with me because it seems to me that everyone is head over heels in love with this series, and especially Noah. I don’t get why people love him, he’s the usual cliché bad boy character nothing else. And Mara! How I hate judgemental females. Obviously if someone wears a mini skirt and looks hot it must mean that she’s a total slut. Meh, I’m not sure after this I’ll be continuing the series but I hope you’ll enjoy the next books more. :)
    Awesome review! :)
    Veronika recently posted…Ann Aguirre – Mortal Danger (Immortal Game #1)My Profile

  3. says

    This was a disappointment for me as well, Aimee. I agree, the last 70% was convoluted and I was scratching my head wondering what the heck just happened. I think I liked Noah (it’s been a long time since I read this) but I think he was hot and cold? Anyways, I didn’t care enough to continue with this series. I don’t care for an unreliable narrator. Great honest review, Aimee! :)
    Rachel recently posted…Showcase Sunday #65My Profile

  4. says

    I really do want to try this series but your’s isn’t the first review I have seen where they did not like Noah, at all, which of course makes me nervous. I really do have to like both main characters to really like a book.

    Maybe I will try this one anyways, I really want to see what that opening is all about! ;)

    Wonderful honest review!!!
    kindlemom1 recently posted…Review: Red Queen by Victoria AveyardMy Profile

  5. says

    I felt the exactly same way about this book that you did Aimee, which is a real shame as I had real high hopes for this one, but the characters just ended up letting me down. I have heard the rest of the series is even more amazing though, so I’m sort of undecided whether I should continue or not :/ thank you for your honest review!
    Jasprit recently posted…Showcase Sunday #65My Profile

  6. says

    I still haven’t read this book Aimee! But I feel that so many have rated this series currently that I have been meaning too. Though for some reason, I just can’t bring myself to read it. I don’t know whether it was the reference to Hush Hush or it could be it just doesn’t float my boat. It’s a shame it didn’t live up to it’s beginning. Great honest review. :)
    Emma @ Never Judge a Book recently posted…REVIEW – SINCE YOU’VE BEEN GONE by Morgan MatsonMy Profile

  7. says

    Ha ha, I’ve seen those Gryffindor costumes and I don’t think they are acceptable either (and neither does JKR fom a statement she made a few years ago). Lol. Anyway, it is weird when someone reads a story and gets the a somewhat, or totally, opposite meaning out of things the characters said and did. This always intrigues me. It is usually because I am so much older, but with this type of book, hmmm… I don’t really know. I am happy you have decided to read the next book. I wish more bloggers had that spirit. :)

  8. says

    I wasn’t a huge Noah fan either. (Sorry, everyone!!) What I did like about these books is that they are just so out there. The next book felt really campy/creepy to me and the last one went way beyond the violence in a typical YA thriller. So while I don’t connect so much with Mara or Noah I did admire Hodkin’s wacky imagination. Look forward to seeing what you think of the next book!
    Jen @ YA Romantics recently posted…Mini-Reviews: There Will Be Lies by Nick Lake and Love, Lucy by April LindnerMy Profile

  9. says

    To be honest, I was a little surprised by your review (and rating) because this series is rather popular, and I haven’t encountered many negative comments about it. That being said, y’all at the Social Potato aren’t known to sugarcoat stuff, so if anyone was going to bash this book it was you. I haven’t read it, so I can’t contribute anything to your list of cons, however they seem pretty significant which is good enough for me.
    Carmel @ Rabid Reads recently posted…Early Review: Craved by an Alpha by Felicity HeatonMy Profile

  10. says

    As I said in the potato awards post, I think we have the same trigger points Aimee! I can definitely relate when you’re ranting about a book because I don’t like 1. whiny heroines 2. books like Hush, Hush or 3. aggressive douchebag love interests. Someone told me that this one didn’t have a romance and THEY LIED noooooo! Great review :)
    Jeann @ Happy Indulgence recently posted…Made For You by Melissa Marr Review: Made Me Lose SleepMy Profile

  11. says

    Oh, it’s a shame you couldn’t enjoy this one as much as you wanted to :( It’s actually been a book I want to read for a while now, but it seems like it was too similar to another one and the heroine seemed to moan all the time. And I would agree, unflattering love interests are… unflattering.
    Olivia recently posted…Sisterhood Tag & My Birthday Bash Giveaway!My Profile

  12. says

    Awww I always thought this was more of a paranormal or supernatural sort of book, but it just looks pretty contemporary/mystery. Yeah I guess like Dangerous Girls! I’m sorry you didn’t like it though! The MC sounds really bitchy, so yeah, I probably won’t like it either but I might try it just because of all the hype. I wish you better luck with the next books then Aimee!
    Valerie recently posted…Review: The Kiss of DeceptionMy Profile

  13. says

    *snickers* I’ve actually been putting this one off b/c I read it WAY before blogging (which has made me infinitely more critical), and I’m afraid I’ll hate it. This did not help. At all, LOL. Sorry, it didn’t work for you, but take heart–eventually you’ll (probably) have at least one more person to commiserate with ;)

  14. says

    You made really good points as to why you were turned off this, and even though I really like this novel I can understand why you didn’t- hopefully the next two books are better! If you liked the creepy, I’d say hand out for book three because that was intense and the romance was barely there. I didn’t really note Mara’s girl-on-girl attitude, which I am aware of whilst reading your review but haven’t taken much note of in my two readings, which is odd because I’m usually really on the ball about that kind of thing. I do hope the rest of the books are more enjoyable! Xx
    Romi recently posted…The Retribution of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin…My Profile