“The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer” by Michelle Hodkin
4 out of 5 stars.
“Mara Dyer believes life can’t get any stranger than waking up in a hospital with no memory of how she got there.
She believes there must be more to the accident she can’t remember that killed her friends and left her strangely unharmed.
She doesn’t believe that after everything she’s been through, she can fall in love.
A while ago my sister had recommended the “Mara Dyer” trilogy to me, and last December I finally got around to reading Michelle Hodkin’s books (yeah, this review is a little late in coming!). At first I wasn’t a huge fan of “The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer”; the writing style was pretty good, although I prefer other authors within the contemporary and paranormal genres, and Mara Dyer was an okay heroine. Despite the fact that my initial feelings toward “The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer” were not particularly favorable, the longer I read this book, the more I found that it had an interesting rhythm to it. Once I was caught up in the current of Michelle Hodkin’s pacing in this book, I got a little bit addicted to Mara Dyer’s story and I began to really like the secondary characters, who all added a lot of weight and substance to “The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer.”
Mara Dyer was a fairly interesting character, but I didn’t feel particularly attached to her as a heroine while reading the first book in Michelle Hodkin’s “Mara Dyer” trilogy. Mara reminded me a bit of Juliet Moreau from “The Madman’s Daughter” by Megan Shepherd, but with a slightly less compelling voice, and I wasn’t necessarily rooting for her to discover why she felt so different from other people and what had actually happened to her that night when she lost her best friend, Rachel, to a collapsed building. Mara was an interesting enough protagonist, but who I ended up really liking in “The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer” was Noah Shaw and Michelle Hodkin’s secondary characters.
Yes, I know, I couldn’t resist this bad boy! I tend to not care for the bad boys in books, especially stories that take a more modern route (with the exception of Kaidan Rowe from Wendy Higgins’ “Sweet Trilogy”), but I found Noah to be a really dynamic character when compared to Mara. Even though Mara was the voice behind this book, I found myself enjoying “The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer” a lot more when Noah became a more present character in it, and him and Mara interacting while trying to figure out what happened to her made me like Mara just a wee bit more. Again, I don’t tend like bad boy personas and I find their broody and self-absorbed attitudes to be extremely annoying and childish, but Noah was somehow a bad boy while not really being one, if that makes any sense; he appeared to be a mildly unsavory individual and had quite the reputation, but he didn’t feel broody or controlling like some of the other main male characters in books, and he also wasn’t whipped by Mara, which I appreciated. I kind of got a Will Herondale (from Cassandra Clare’s “Infernal Devices” trilogy) vibes from Noah Shaw at times, although I still prefer Will just a bit more. Noah was definitely the most interesting character in “The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer,” probably because the first book in this trilogy revealed so little of who he was, and how everything about this book made me wonder what he was really after and what his and Mara’s connection was.
As iffy as I felt about Mara Dyer, I really loved her family, especially her brothers. Michelle Hodkin did a fantastic job of making me get attached to Daniel and Joseph, and I enjoyed who Mara was around them and appreciated how much she cared about her family. It was refreshing to see a female character who had been traumatized by events in her life who did not take all of her hurt and hate out on her siblings or parents. So many authors write heroines who act terribly and lash out at their families, which ends up just making the protagonists seem cruel and immature, which ends up making me dislike them. Michelle writing Mara’s relationship with her parents and brothers that way helped me to like her more as a female character, and it added a good, positive dynamic to this book.
I wish I could tell you more about this book, but I can’t without spoiling things for you, so I think I’ll keep my review of “The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer” vague like it’s summary. I will, however, say in closing that Noah and Mara’s romance felt fairly natural and not too quick for a pair of modern-day teenagers. Michelle developed their relationship enough before they ever pursued anything, and I appreciated that because I have been reading a fair amount of books lately where the romance makes little to no sense or completely fizzles out before it even begins, which is a bummer because when that happens, it makes the entire book feel forced and less cohesive. Noah and Mara, however, had good chemistry, so it made the romance seem a little more plausible and the pacing of the story more natural. Plus, I liked Noah a lot, so that helped. 😉
Overall, I really enjoyed “The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer.” I thought that it was an interesting, well put together book with great secondary characters and a good male lead, and although I wasn’t a huge fan of Mara, I thought that she was a good heroine. This book was really fast paced and interesting while not giving much away to its readers, leaving them wondering long into the night what mysteries book two might hold. Everything seemed vague and veiled because of Mara’s loss of time and her hallucinations, so it was hard to tell what had actually happened and what Mara had imagined. I hate to sound like a hippie, but at times this book felt a little trippy thanks to the vagueness of, well, everything, and that definitely kept the pace of this book going and me reading. I would definitely recommend “The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer” to anyone searching for a quick and surprising read. The first book in the “Mara Dyer” trilogy didn’t feel like horror novel or all that scary to me, but there was definitely some pretty crazy things going on that kept me reading. This book definitely plays tricks on the mind!