Wednesday 28 March 2012

Book Review: The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin.

Product details:
Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK
Release date: March 1st 2012 (first published September 2011)
Paperback, 452 pages.
Rating: 5 out of 5.
Ages: 14+
Source: Received from publisher for review.

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.

Complex, creepy and all consuming, The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin is a multi-layered mystery of mind bending-proportions, and while it’s a book that left me totally dazed and confused, playing on my mind and creeping me out for days after I’d finished it, I can safely say that I loved every minute of this wonderfully accomplished debut.

Who is Mara Dyer?

Well, here’s what we know. We know that Mara survived an accident which killed her boyfriend and her two friends. We don’t really know what happened, because Mara doesn’t remember the details of the night when they died, but we know that she’s haunted by their deaths and plagued by memories of them.  When we meet Mara she’s about to move to a new city. She needs to start over, but her new start is impossible, because she can’t escape her past. She can’t escape the night that her friends died…

And that’s all I’m saying, because you don’t need to know anything else about this one. The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer is like nothing I’ve ever read before, and it truly is best read without knowing too many details.  Also, I might as well admit, that despite a whole lot of theorising, I’m not sure if I know what the hell is going on with Mara Dyer.  I’m not entirely sure what happened to Mara or why, or how, but I can tell you that I had a whole lot of fun guessing. This book kind of reminded me of my reaction to Twin Peaks first time I watched it when I was way too young to understand any of it.  Back then I didn’t know what was happening in that show for the most part, but still, I loved every second of it.  I felt the same way about this book.

Since I am a theories person, and since this book demands speculation on what is happening in Mara’s world, I’ll share some of mine, just so you can see how thrown I was with this book.  I’d love to hear your theories too, but try to keep them spoiler free (I had a whole lot of better theories than posted here that I couldn’t share in case of spoilers). I still have plenty to go round, though.  I considered everything from time travel to alternate universes to doppelgangers.  Heck, I think I may have thrown aliens into the mix at one point.  None of my theories ever quite added up, though. Every time I thought I had things figured out, Hodkin would set me off course again with those clever plot twists of hers.

While I loved The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer, I can understand the mixed reviews I’ve read too. This is going to be a book that will evoke strong reactions from people, and it’s one that you’ll either love or hate.   I can see why people might be frustrated by the lack of resolution here and by all the unanswered questions throughout the book. For me, that was part of the fun, although if things aren’t explained in the next book, I may not be as enthralled as I am right now. I did think the ending of this one was pretty awesome, though! Holy cliffhanger!

Guess what else held me in thrall to this book? The boy, of course!  I totally lost my heart to Noah Shaw.  If you love Adrian Ivashkov from Richelle Mead’s Vampire Academy series, then you will fall hard for Noah Shaw.  He’s all sexy and disheveled in that kind of Adrian way, with his bad habits and his general bad boy ways. And his British accent, and his wonderful way with words, and the way he wears his clothes, and the way he styles his hair, and….I found him utterly irresistible. Couldn’t get enough.  I always fall for those types.

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer is dark, haunting, atmospheric and eerie.  You may not even think so while you’re reading it but it will play on your mind for a while after you’ve finished, and you may have nightmares about creepy bathtubs and scary mirrors. I was also further intrigued when I read an interview with Michelle Hodkin where she mentioned the story was based on real events, with Mara inspired by a real life girl. I would so love to know more about the story behind the story!

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer is, in my opinion, a total must read, and I can’t wait to read the sequel The Evolution of Mara Dyer, publishing in October 2012.  I’m counting down the days already!


  1. Ooh I had forgotten I had this one. I must get to it soon. 

  2. Heather@The Flyleaf Review28 March 2012 at 16:12

    Oh, I am really glad you read this because it's clear you loved it! It wasn't my cup of tea (and I know I am definitely in the minority) but it would've sucked if this one had passed you by because of the mixed reviews. Just goes to show that everyone has different tastes and you should always give a book a go before writing it off due to a poor review! And I think you right, it did have a Twin Peak-ish quality to it (loved that series too!)

  3. Awesome! So glad you loved this one- I just bought it after reading loads of great reviews, and I'm even more excited to read it now!

  4. Great review! Sadly I didnt like this one much I think I expected something totally different. But I'm definitely the black sheep and I can see why others love it. Glad you did :)

  5. "I can see why people might be frustrated by the lack of resolution here
    and by all the unanswered questions throughout the book. For me, that
    was part of the fun"

    YES! I can see why this is a love-it or hate-it read, but I was firmly in the love-it camp. It was just strange and twisted and dark and I loved that half the time I was reading I was questioning myself and Mara and pretty much all of the other characters. Can't wait for book 2! Beautiful review Leanna:)

  6. OMGG your review has made me DESPERATE to read this! Luckily I have a copy right here ;) LOVE the sound of Noah; hadn't heard anyone compare him to Adrian before but I LOVE Adrian so I think I will love Noah too. Awesome review Leanna!

    The Cait Files

  7. I've heard so many great reviews of this, but I still need to read it! Great review!

  8. I NEED to read this book! I was lucky enough that another book blogger gifted me a copy, and I've heard so many great things about it! Glad you enjoyed it! And 5 stars? WOW!

  9. Wow, this one sounds amazing - I saw it in Waterstone's the other day and was tempted - think I might go back now and pick it up :)

  10. I am totally with you on the Noah love *swoonarrific* but I have to say I didn't love it as much as I thought I would.
    I will be carrying on with the second book but hope Mara gets more of a grip.

  11. I agree this is a must read. I was so happy when I got this in the mail and immediately fell in love. Wow Mara Dyer is such an adrenaline ride that keeps you twisting and turning and second guessing. And then you finish and are just as curious as when you started. I'm sure I'm not even close to figuring out who Mara Dyer is and I love that Michelle Hodkin wrote the book that way. I definitely can't wait til The Evolution of Mara Dyer comes out, I so need more.

  12. SQUEE! YES, YES, YES! I freaking LOVED this book. It was amazing and mind-bending and sexy and I think we may need therapy sessions after reading, but it's SO worth it! I love how unpredictable it was and that we're STILL sitting here thinking... "WTF?"

    And damn... DAMN, Noah Shaw. I absolutely put him in Adrian's league and to reside beside Ivashkov... well, you have to bring your A ++++++ Game. Noah certainly did that *deep sigh* That boy redefines the word sexy.

    Fantastic review!!

  13. I'm definitely in the minority, too. I didn't care for this book. LOL I don't know...maybe it's 'cause I read it right around the US pub date and there was SO much hype. Glad you read it after the buzz died down! Maybe I should have done that!! I just wasn't blown away. I wonder why there's so much love-it or hate-it feelings over this book. Shouldn't a book be one or the the other? This would definitely make a good blog discussion!

  14. daisychainbooks30 March 2012 at 15:00

     I think anything with a Twin Peak-ish quality to it is going to evoke love/hate reactions from people! I remember your review of this one!! If I don't get all the answers in the next book I may not be so happy with it, but I loved this!!

  15. daisychainbooks30 March 2012 at 15:00

    Can't wait to see what you think!

  16. daisychainbooks30 March 2012 at 15:01

     I wasn't sure what to expect with this one one, but I liked what I read. Expect the unexpected with Mara Dyer, that's for sure!

  17. daisychainbooks30 March 2012 at 15:01

     Yay! I remember that you loved this one too. I just can't wait to find out what's really going on here!!

  18. daisychainbooks30 March 2012 at 15:02

    I hope you love this one! Can't wait to see what you think - a lot of people are having very different reactions to this one! I haven't seen anyone comparing Noah to Adrian either - maybe just me! :D

  19. daisychainbooks30 March 2012 at 15:03

     I definitely want a lot of answers in book 2 and I hope the explanation is good! Noah is YUM!!

  20. daisychainbooks30 March 2012 at 15:04

     Therapy sessions are needed! I mean, do you know WTF is going on?! Hot DAMN, Noah Shaw, HOT DAMN!!

  21. daisychainbooks30 March 2012 at 15:06

     With this one, there are no answers (yet) and the whole thing is a bit off the wall - I think that might account for the love/hate! And with Noah, I think some people just think he's a total ass. I, however, couldn't resist him! :)

  22. I wasn't sure Id like this one but I keep seeing amazing reviews of it! thanks for another! 

  23. I felt the same way about this one and my review is scheduled for tomorrow!  I devoured this book quickly and I knew you'd love Noah Shaw. :)  Great review- it's definitely one of my favorite books of the year!

  24. daisychainbooks3 April 2012 at 13:56

     Mine too! And however could I resist a guy like Noah Shaw! ;)

  25. I got this one a couple of days ago, and I have to get to it asap! I've heard the same things you said, that it's dark and everything. But I think it'll be a nice change, in my case. And that thing about it making you guess and keeping you in the dark until the end? I love it! I always love making my own theories of things, and the more the books surprise me, the better :)

    Nice review! Now that I've read your thoughts about I don't think I'll be able to wait much more to read it LOL

  26. daisychainbooks6 April 2012 at 11:09

     This one will definitely leave you with lots of theories, but not too many concrete answers! Can't wait to see what you think!!

  27. Tammy February7 April 2012 at 23:09

    Ok, you officially have me sold on this book. I love a book that keeps me guessing and Mara actually sounds like a fascinating character. Like you, I'd love to know the story behind the story; I'm intrigued by the fact that it's based on real-life events. Of course, Noah definitely sounds like my kind of book boy, so that definitely clinches it for me as well. Great review Leanna!

  28. Everyone keeps telling me how amazing Noah is - I've got to read this book! I have to see for myself :P. I have it on my TBR and can't wait to get started - so glad you liked it! Fab review :).

  29. daisychainbooks9 April 2012 at 14:25

     Noah is seriously HOT!!!


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