REVIEW: The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin

January 5, 2015

Edition: Simon & Schuster Australia Paperback Release Date: September 27th 2011
Pages: 452
Series: Mara Dyer #1
Genre: Young Adult Paranormal
Source: Received from Simon & Schuster Australia (Thank you)
Links: Goodreads | Author's Website | Buy the book
Mara Dyer doesn’t think life can get any stranger. She wakes from a coma in hospital with no memory of how she got there or of the bizarre accident that caused the deaths of her best friends and her boyfriend, yet left her mysteriously unharmed. The doctors suggest that starting over in a new city, a new school, would be good for her and just to let the memories gradually come back on their own.
But Mara’s new start is anything but comforting. She sees the faces of her dead friends everywhere, and when she suddenly begins to see other people’s deaths right before they happen, Mara wonders whether she’s going crazy! And if dealing with all this wasn’t enough, Noah Shaw, the most beautiful boy she has ever seen can’t seem to leave her alone… but as her life unravels around her, Mara can’t help but wonder if Noah has another agenda altogether… 

Mara Dyer wakes up in a hospital after being unconscious for a few days, only to find out that a mental asylum that Mara herself was in, collapsed killing her best friend, her boyfriend and her boyfriends sister. She has no recollection of how this happened, or why she was even there.

Mara is diagnosed with PTSD and with the support of her caring and concerned family, moves to Florida to start new. Despite being the only one who somehow survived the collapse, Mara isn’t okay. Whilst dealing with the big move and the loss of her friends, Mara starts having hallucinations and seeing things that aren’t really there. Things like her dead friends in mirrors, around her and at school. But even freakier, Mara is also picturing the deaths of civilians just before they happen and exactly how they happen. Sheesh!

Basically these hallucinations were scary as hell and let me clarify, I’m a scaredy cat. I hate horror movies but I watch them anyway, with eyes peeking through the covers despite knowing I’ll be haunted for days. So I can’t deal with nightmare material horror which luckily this wasn’t, I could handle this. But it was creepy enough to have me grateful for the company of others around me as I read all about the scary pale figures in the mirror and the open doors.

Whilst Mara deals with her hallucinations which could either be an effect of PTSD or something more, she encounters the school bad boy. The typical cocky, cheeky, and attractive stay away from him he’ll break your heart bad boy. But how can I say Noah and bad in the same paragraph as he is just so good and so damn beautiful. *takes a moment to admire the latest addition to the book boyfriend list and tries to find a flaw in shaw (aye it rhymes).

Mara and Noah had great banter from the get go. Their conversations brought out the best and worst in both characters, resulting in dialogue like this.
“Asscrown," I muttered under my breath as I headed to my next class. I wasn't proud of swearing at a complete stranger, no. But he started it.
Noah matched my pace. "Don't you mean 'assclown'?" He looked amused.
"No," I said, louder this time. "I mean asscrown. The crown on top of the asshat that covers the asshole of the assclown. The very zenith in the hierarchy of asses," I said, as though I was reading from a dictionary of modern profanity.
"I guess you nailed me then.”
As expected, it was obvious Mara was bound to eventually fall for Noah and I was totally rooting for that, but it was never really explained what changed Mara’s dislike into like like. You know what I mean? It definitely wasn’t insta love but the feelings developed quickly.

Once said feelings were established, I was a total sucker for the Mara and Noah romance. I mean besides Noah totally charming the pants off me and Mara being a pretty good protagonist (she was witty, strong, independent and sarcastic, I loved it!), it was obvious they were perfectly matched and shared such a sweet relationship.

But even though I was all about the romance as per usual, my main priority was finding out what really happened that night at the asylum and what was happening now? There was so much mystery and so much to be answered, as we had plenty of things going on at once. But that just made it all the more thrilling. Now after hearing it was inspired by true events, I’m even more intrigued. I won’t talk about her hallucinations much more because I’m going to end up giving too much away.

A lot of the time I felt so bad for Mara, what she was dealing with was indescribable. Half the time she didn’t know whether she was crazy or not and for a long time she was dealing with it all alone. But that isn’t to say she didn’t have people looking out for her because she had an incredibly supportive family who just wanted to know what was going on and what they could do. I loved her two brothers and the relationship she shared with them, that was really sweet.

For a large portion of the novel, just like Mara, I had no clue what was going on. I got a little confused but I didn’t find it overwhelming, I just sorta went with it until things cleared up. But I would have loved some more answers because even as the book concluded, a lot was left unresolved. Which has me dying for book two, especially after that massive cliffhanger. I seriously think I’ll go mad while waiting for my book depository order to arrive, I’ll be the one hallucinating.

The book wasn’t flawless by any means, it was sometimes too predictable and unrealistic which is why I pondered over giving it a 4 or a 4.5 rating. But then how could I ignore the feeling of excitement, enjoyment, anticipation, shock and wonder that coursed through my veins after and during reading it? Because I literally could not put the book down and I loved everything about it, FEELS OVERLOAD. I think I may have read 300 pages or so in 2 hours, I was reading at the dinner table like a mad man.

Because of that, I’m giving The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer a 5/5. There is no doubt I’ll be recommending this to anyone looking for a good read - it’s especially perfect for fans of YA paranormal thrillers. It’s quite unlike anything I’ve read before, making it a stand out in it’s own rights. Can’t wait to read the rest of the series and finally get some answers! Shoutout to my friend Indigo who without the rather adamant persuasion, I probably wouldn’t have read The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer or discovered the amazingness that is Noah Shaw.


  1. I can't wait to read this! I'm gonna read the PDF before i buy it so I can decide whether I'll like. But you and I have similar tastes so I trust ya ;)

  2. I've seen such fantastic things about this series and I'm going to buy the first book with some of my Christmas gift-voucher money because it sounds so promising! Glad to hear you enjoyed it Sunny, brilliant review :)

  3. I absolutely LOVE the sound of this series and the psychological thriller aspect, although I must say the romance kind of makes me hesitant. Great to hear that you enjoyed it Sunny, great review as always!

  4. Great review! I've never really felt swayed to buy this book but you're review seriously has me considering buying it!

    Noah sounds perfect and swoon worthy and amazing. ;D

  5. I keep seeing rave reviews and recommendations to read it wherever I turn but I still haven't gotten to reading this one yet. I really need to soon though because it sounds absolutely amazing!

  6. I've got this entire series at home and I NEED to read it! I've been wanting to read this series for ages, and now I definitely can't wait. Brilliant review!


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