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Review: The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin

in a sentence or so: Mara wakes up in a hospital after an accident that leaves her friends dead, but her virtually unharmed. after moving to a new place to try and get over her PTSD, crazy, inexplicable, and creepy things happen.

Mara can't explain what happened the night her friends died. she can't remember where she was, what she was doing there, or how she managed to survive when no one else did. she wants to remember, but something is holding her back.  attempting to move on and heal, Mara and her two awesome brothers and her doting parents move from NY to Miami, hoping that will help Mara. it doesn't. but moving to Miami does present an incredibly sexy british boy named Noah who seems to know something deeper lies with Mara. but is she able to get past his playboy reputation? does she even want to, knowing she's having strange visions and just might be clinically insane? and most importantly...will she ever find out what the hell happened the night her friends died?

this book has been getting a ton of buzz, though i'm not sure it's for the same reasons that i fell in love with this refreshingly different read. we start off with Mara waking up in the hospital and having no memory of how she got there, moving to a new place, meeting new people, and weird stuff happening. vague, i know, but i'm saving you from spoilers.

then, as you may have heard, the book takes A Different Turn. some people were really put off by the turn. i was not. i LOVED IT. i was super excited with the twist and thought that The Swamp Scene provided a darkness and a different element than i was expecting. what started as a good read transitioned to a GREAT read. the foreshadowing up to that point started to come into focus, and the rest of the novel embraced the shift whole-heartedly.

also, the author included one of my all time favorite literary elements ever - the unreliable narrator (looking at you, Fight Club). are the things that Mara's experiencing all in her head? are they happening for real? or is it somewhere in between? you don't know! because Mara doesn't know! it's the best!

this book is spooky, confusing, romantic, funny, dark, and mysterious. i couldn't put it down, and i can't wait for the next installment of the series.

fave quote: "'Aiden Davis, lacrosse all-star and Project Runway aficionado. Pre-Shaw, he and Anna used to date. Until he came out of the metaphorical closet, and now they're BFFs forevah.' Jamie batted his eyelashes. I kind of loved him." (pg 40, Jamie [new friend] and Mara interacting on one of her first days at school.)

fix er up: some of the ideas, situations, or places that felt a bit too unbelievable given the context, or just didn't fit into the framework of the story. also, at times Mara had a little Bella Swan/generic heroine thing going for her that i found to be distracting. sure, Mara's snarky and clever, but she's also intelligent and an artist and doesn't have any atypical hobbies, interests, or play any sports. maybe this is more a complaint with the ya genre in general...but with so much thought going into the plot and the tone and the overall narrative, a more fleshed out lead character wouldn't have been a bad thing.

title: The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer
author: Michelle Hodkin
publishing info: September 2011, Simon & Schuster
genre: Mystery, Drama

[ftc notice: i received an advance review copy of this book from the Ginger of GReads! i did not receive compensation of any kind for this review. thanks, G!]

Lisa is a gamer, crafter, fangirl, mother, wife and unabashed nerd who is pretty ridiculous and it's best you know that up front. When she's not binge watching Netflix or crafting into the wee hours of the night, you can find her spending a lot of her time on Pinterest and Twitter.


  1. You already know my thoughts on this book, seeing as we discussed it in multiple emails lol. You did touch on a good subject though - the unreliable narrator. This book does a good job of never quite explaining everything, so we're totally left unguarded. It got a bit frustrating in some parts for me, though. I needed a bit more explaining lol. Overall GREAT story, and awesome review! Glad I could share my copy with you :-)

  2. I can't wait to read this book. I hope to be able to get it soon. Great review now I want to read it more!!!!!!!

  3. Mmm. Noah Shaw. I know I probably shouldn't like him as much as I do, but I can't help it! He's just so darn sexy!

    I didn't hate the ending...but I was confused by it. I felt like it didn't flow with the rest of the story. I'm glad you loved it though! I've been thinking about reading it again to see if I would understand it better.

  4. I can't wait to get my hands on this book! I'm always up for an unusual read! Thanks for the review! I like the "fix er up" element!

  5. Ginger - thank you FOREVER for lending the book to me! without you, there would be no review. you are my hero and i loved yelling in caps at you throughout the reading. :)

    Laura - yay! i can't wait for you to check it out! keep me posted with your thoughts.

    Lindsi - mmm is RIGHT. i think a reread would definitely be interesting. i'm sure there's more foreshadowing than i realized.

    Somer - i just have high hopes for my female characters, i think.

  6. Oh my gracious, did you just mention my favorite movie ever? I think you did. I swear I can quote that movie (and also Tombstone, but you didn't mention that one). Almost everything I have read about this book (til now) has been negative or really weird with lots of expletives in the reviews. I really want to read it, but all of the reviews were kind of sucking that "want" away little by little. You and your little unreliable narrator bit may have just redeemed it. AND THANK GOODNESS. Because there's not much worse than somebody comin' along and burstin' your bubble, ya know?

    BTW, now that you have mentioned my beloved Fight Club, I have all of the "I Am Jack's..." quotes swimming around in my head. So fun. :)



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