Author: Michelle Hodkin
Publication Date: 09/27/2011
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Pages: 450
Source: ARC (Once Upon a Twlight ARC Tour)

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.
What would you do if you had to piece your memory together fragment by fragment? That's a question Mara Dyer wonders on a daily basis. Mara wakes up in the hospital after an accident she has no recollection of and that's when it begins: the familiar voices, the faces that can't possibly be there. Hoping that moving from the area - and the change of scenery - will provide some measure of help, the Dyer family moves to Miami. The visions, if anything, progress, and as Mara starts to question her grasp on reality she finds an anchor in someone wrapped up in a mystery of their own. And this is just the beginning.

While there is so much hype for this book, I can safely say it will be nothing like you could expect. From page one The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer took me on a ride where it was impossible to guess what was coming up and the twist and turns were thrilling not only for the reader, but for the characters themselves as they found out at the same time each new piece of information. You might never guess that this is Michelle Hodkin's debut work as everything about it is so exquisitely crafted from cover to cover: the supporting characters (especially Mara's family), the pacing and setting of each scene that offered just the right amount of information in the proper places to keep the flow on point, and especially the suspense. It's safe to say that I had no clue what to expect, but that in no way detracted from my enjoyment of the story and when it ended it left my mind reeling almost if I had just experienced everything as Mara. In fact, Michelle made that lack of information work beautifully in her and Mara's favor, and even as I read I found myself stunned by how well everything was laid out.

I had heard a lot about the (in)famous Noah Shaw before I'd read the book and suffice to say I was curious as to what this mystery boy offered that made everyone fall in love with him. Well, I found out. Noah isn't perfect. He's arrogant and occasionally smarmy and outrageous in so many ways. He flits about in such a manner that creates buzz without the aid of the gossip mill. And yet, unlike a lot of recent YA male interests, these potentially unappealing characteristics are not what make Noah interesting. What made Noah work for me is that he took all of these traits and wrapped them around him and made them into a ruse all his own. That Mara was able to peel each layer back like an onion and slowly figure out exactly what his story was and why he acts the way he does was a huge part of it. Noah Shaw is perhaps the most realistic of male teenage characters that I've read in a YA novel in a long time and this, above all, makes him stand out. The fact that Mara and Noah balance each other out so perfectly and on stand such equal footing (and respect each other) was just icing on top of the cake. 

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer is not just something you read, but it's something you fall into. It's a puzzle that you won't have all of the pieces to until the very end and then it all falls into place. At the very end I found myself flipping back pages and chapters and figuring out where earlier passages, seemingly innocuous, quietly hinted at things to come. That's not to say that everything is wrapped up prettily at the end; there's a mystery even then and, still, after almost 500 pages you're left wanting to know more about these characters in the best possible way. This is a book that you do not want to have to wait to read, and my discussion of it barely scratches the surface as a nod to each reader who has yet to take Mara's journey. (And, yes, it is a journey you definitely want to take.)


Many thanks to:

9 comments on "review: the unbecoming of mara dyer by michelle hodkin"

kathy wrote: Mon Aug 15, 10:26:00 PM

I'm so excited to read this book. I'm on a different book tour for it, but I think I'm one of the last people. :( Great review. I love that I don't feel like it's giving anything away but I still totally want to read it.


We Heart YA wrote: Tue Aug 16, 08:58:00 AM

Hm, haha, no mention of a certain alligator incident. Interesting... (Lots of other reviews loved everything about this book up until that point, so we were curious if you would say anything about it.) Glad you enjoyed it, and thanks for the review! We particularly like how you describe the relationship between Mara and Noah. :)


kaye (paper reader) wrote: Tue Aug 16, 09:05:00 AM

@kathy: Oh, I think you're going to like it! It's definitely worth the wait. This was a difficult one to write as I wanted to discuss more, but couldn't without giving things away.

@We Heart YA: I didn't want to talk about anything that happened in the book as it's better if you experience it all at once rather than having a hint of what's to come. That said, I had no problem with that scene as for me it made sense given everything that had happened so far. And I liked Mara and Noah - I liked the book as a whole. :)


TwilightsDance wrote: Tue Aug 16, 10:27:00 AM

Thanks for participating in the tour. I LOVED THIS BOOK, so glad you did too.


Leanna (Daisy Chain Book Reviews) wrote: Tue Aug 16, 01:28:00 PM

I've read quite a few reviews on this one already. It seems to be getting a mixed reaction, but its one I'm definitely excited to read. Can't wait to meet this guy Noah to see what he's all about! :)


Christy @TheReaderBee wrote: Tue Aug 16, 06:29:00 PM

Yay! So glad you enjoyed this book! It's definitely my favorite book this year! I can't wait to re-read it! :) Fabulous review!


YA Book Queen wrote: Wed Aug 17, 10:51:00 AM

I'm glad that it kept you curious, I love twists and turns in stories....and Noah doesn't sound too bad either ;)

Fabulous review!


kaye (paper reader) wrote: Wed Aug 17, 10:28:00 PM

@TwilightsDance: Thank you for having me! It was superb; I'm quite glad that I've a finished copy on pre-order!

@Leanna: I haven't read any negative reviews on it, although now I have to admit that I'm curious. I admit I felt a little silly writing so much about Noah, but he's integral to the plot and is quite a different character to experience! Looking forward to seeing what you think!

@Christy: I'm very much waiting to get my copy in the mail to look over again, too! It really was lovely. :)

@YA Book Queen: Ahh, it was difficult to write about this as not only would saying anything about it give so much away, but that it's such a puzzle that it's difficult to write about. But it really is an amazing book.


Christina (Christinareadsya) wrote: Sun Aug 21, 12:09:00 PM

!!! I can't wait to read this one. It makes me happy to see that Mara and Noah's relationship is one filled with respect. A review I had read on Goodreads seemed to hint otherwise, but I think that's just the reviewer, someone who incidentally tends to bash pretty much any book I think I'll like :(.

Looking forward to the all twists and turns when my pre-order shows up :). Thanks for the review!


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