08 February 2013

Ashley & Kat review: The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer (Mara Dyer #1) by Michelle Hodkin

Published: 27 September 2011 by Simon & Schuster

Pages: 452 (hardcover)

Genres: YA, Romance, Paranormal


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.

Our Thoughts

The Characters
Ashley: Mara is having a hard time adjusting to her new life. Before she woke up from a three day coma, she had a best friend and a boyfriend. Before she woke up, they were still alive. Before she woke up, she didn't hallucinate and she people didn't die around her. I cannot tell you how much I love Mara's character. She is so broken, but so strong. She puts on a great face and fights through all of the crazy that is happening to her.

Noah is a character that I am a bit torn on. On the one hand, he is just like every other YA male character. Sexy, model-esque, funny, but also serious. But on the other hand, there is something special about him that is not discovered until later in the book. I think it's his specialty that makes me overlook the fact that he is just another YA male.

Perhaps one of my favorite parts of this book, is how big of a role that Mara's family plays in this book. I love when YA novels actually give the family real traits and real relationships. Mara's brothers are absolutely amazing. They are adorable and both look out for Mara.

Kat: For the most part, I didn't mind Mara - she had a pretty sharp wit, and a good sense of humour, and it was fairly easy for me to sympathise with some of the things she had been through, but she's not going to stick out in my mind as an amazing lead character - there just wasn't enough spark.

I'd have to have been blind, or living in a box not to see all the comments about Noah when UMD was first published. But, honestly, I didn't like him all that much - he was inconsistent, almost creepy and more than a bit dodgy and I got so bored with the constant back and forth between him and Mara, that I wished I could reach through the pages and smack their heads together.

Mara's family plays a big part in the book, which I really liked - her mother in particular was quite interesting, and I loved that as well as there being a big family influence there was also some ethnic diversity. One person I just couldn't figure out, or connect with at all was her brother Daniel - me and perfect characters never get along and this guy is SO perfect. I just wanted to see him screw up so that he stopped being so perfect.

The only character that I really liked was Mara's friend Jamie. His dry and twisted sense of humour really appealed to me, but he faded in and out so inconsistently that it was hard to get to know more about him, and when things really went down he completely disappeared.

Ashley: This book is crazy intense, guys. I don't even know where to start. The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer switches back and forth between post-accident and pre-accident. Each time we go back in time, we see a little bit more of the the truth and what happened the night her friends died.

And as if no memory is hard enough, Mara also has to deal with the attentions of Noah, the sexy, charming boy at her new school. There are also the classic mean girls, family drama, and friend problems thrown into the mix. So many different relationships are explored in this book and that is what made it even more appealing to me.

Kat: When I first read the synopsis of this book, I was completely intrigued. Seeing dead people? Uh, yes, sign me up! And the book starts off really well - a flashback to a seance, followed by Mara waking up in hospital with no memory of what happened - ah ha, here we go!

But there was so little paranormal and so much flirting, lusting, falling out and just generally fobbing about between Mara and Noah that I kept getting bogged down just waiting for something spooky, creepy or even just interesting to happen. Personally, I would have been happier if there had been 50 pages less of back and forth between them.

Ashley: I am so impressed with the world that Michelle Hodkin has created in The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer. It starts off so creepy, thrilling, and serious. But once the paranormal aspects come in it gets even better. I couldn't tell at first how this books was catagorized under Paranormal Romance, but after finishing it, it definitely makes sense. I loved the slow and steady revelations of the accident and suspicious deaths that occur around Mara.

The only part I don't like so far is there is no explanation for any of these special powers. Hopefully that gets explained in the next book. I need some answers, dang it!

Kat: The lack of paranormal activity until the end of the book really left me feeling flat - at times (in fact, most of the time), it felt far more like a contemporary romance - which is not my thing at all.

Final Thoughts
Ashley: My expectations were so high when reading this book and I was not disappointed in the least. I can't wait to get my hands on the second book and see how Mara and Noah handle what's coming next. It is sure to be just as intense and brilliant.

Kat: I didn't have massive expectations for UMB, for which I'm glad because I would have been terribly disappointed otherwise. It's not a bad book, even though as I write this I'm thinking that I sound pretty negative - it's just not to my personal taste. I don't know whether I'll continue with this series, but I'm going to take some convincing before I consider book two.

Ashley's Rating: 5 out of 5

Kat's Rating: 2.5 out of 5

Ashley is the blogger behind The Bibliophile's Corner. You can also find her on Twitter, Goodreads and Facebook.
The Bibliophile's Corner


  1. I always appreciate when a YA novel has a good sense of family too because so often that part of the story is just forgotten. For some reason I haven't read this one, it just never appealed to me and now I feel vindicated in that decision! Great review ladies!

  2. Uh oh, you didn't like it. I didn't love it but did like it.

  3. I always like it when the family plays a role in the storyline. It's a shame that the romance overwhelmed the creepy aspect for you, Kat. It was fun to see how both of you thought about the book :)

  4. I liked this one a lot. I can really relate to Mara and I think that's what really solidified it for me. I can't wait to read the next book.

  5. Ha! It's hilarious how much you guys didn't agree on this one. :-p Kat needs her paranormal, authors. Give it to her!



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