The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer

the-unbecoming-of-mara-dyer


Title: The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer

Author: Michelle Hodkin

Series: Mara Dyer, #1

Publisher: Simon Pulse UK

Release Date: September 27th 2011

Rating:

Three Stars

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…

– Blurb courtesy of goodreads.com

My Thoughts On…

…The Plot

“Even telling you this much probably isn’t smart. But without my big mouth, no one would know that a seventeen-year-old who likes Death Cab for Cutie was responsible for the murders. No one would know that somewhere out there is a B student with a body count. And it’s important that you know, so you’re not next.”

I’d heard so much about the Mara Dyer trilogy before actually picking up the first book. Going into The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer my expectations were sky high, and unfortunately this book did not live up to them. Don’t get me wrong I thought it was a great book; I loved Mara from the beginning and warmed to Noah about halfway through. However while the story started off really strong the middle slowed down way too much for my liking. Luckily the end picked up again and I’m looking forwards to reading the second book to carry on with this trilogy, but I guess my expectations were a little too high.

After waking up in hospital with no memory of how she ended up there Mara discovers that her best friend, her boyfriend, and her boyfriend’s sister were all killed when the asylum the four of them were in collapsed. Mara is the only survivor and somehow walked away with only the faintest bruises and scratches. Unable to handle going to classes and living in the same home where there are so many memories of her best friend Mara begs her family to move, and that’s how she ends up in Florida and how she winds up meeting Noah Shaw.

“Fix me,” I commanded him. “This thing, what I’ve done—there’s something wrong with me, Noah. Fix it.”
Noah’s expression broke my heart as he brushed my hair from my face, and skimmed the line of my neck. “I can’t”
“Why not?” I asked, my voice threatening to crack.
“Because,” he said, “You’re not broken.”

Despite not being able to remember anything from that night Mara suffers from PTSD. She sees Rachel’s and Claire’s faces in the mirror instead of her own, and sees Jude and hears his voice while she’s at school. Mara is struggling to hold it together and, unable to really reach out to anyone in her family who still treat her like a fragile doll, she hides everything deep down where no one can see it.

But then the bodies start dropping. People whom Mara imagined dying turn up dead, and with her hallucinations getting worse and worse Mara is forced to turn to the only person she feels she can trust, and the only person who could possibly believe her wild stories; Noah.

While the plot was slow in places I loved the concept. After the accident Mara isn’t sure what is real and what isn’t, what parts actually happened to her and what parts are her mind playing tricks. There were some very creepy parts to this book and the fact that Mara is a unreliable narrator, so to say, makes it all the more interesting to read.

…The Characters

“What I got was a diagnosis. Post traumatic stress disorder, the psychologist said. Nightmares and visual hallucinations were my new normal, apparently, and something about my behaviour in the psychologist’s office made him recommend a long-term care facility.”

Mara is struggling after what happened to her best friend. She shuts herself off from her family and wants to put it all behind her, but at the same time she needs to remember what happened that night at the asylum that led to the deaths of Rachel, Claire and Jude. I really liked Mara’s determination in this book; she doesn’t know what she may find out but she knows she needs answers. She isn’t sure what is real and what isn’t anymore, and the hallucinations are playing on her mind and affecting her families lives as well. Mara wants to get better, she doesn’t want to be put in a facility but she has no clue how to act normal when she doesn’t know what normal is anymore.

“My God, you’re like the plague.”
“A masterfully crafted, powerfully understated, and epic parable of timeless moral resonance? Why, thank you. That’s one of the nicest things anyone’s ever said to me,” he said.
“The disease, Noah. Not the book.”

Noah was a character I didn’t really get at first. I think the author wanted to make him mysterious but in my mind that kind of backfired and he seemed to be one massive trope in the form of a character. However about halfway though, when he starts interacting with Mara more and starts reaching out to her and sharing his own secrets, he becomes much more fleshed out and I was able to enjoy reading and discovering more about him. Noah has his own secrets, but at the same time he is like the light to Mara’s darkness, the two complement each other in a way and lean on one another for help.

“What would you do if I kissed you right now?”
I stared at his beautiful face and his beautiful mouth and I wanted nothing more than to taste it. “I would kiss you back.”

The relationship between Mara and Noah was about need. There is something more driving them together but at first it is about how they need one another. There is something more about Mara Noah needs the answer to, and at the same time there is something Noah can offer that no one else Mara surrounds herself with can.

Although they try to help her there is a lot Mara’s family just don’t understand. I really enjoyed the family dynamic, especially between Mara and her mother – a relationship that is strained by the almost overbearing concern Mara’s mother feels for her daughter after the accident, mixed with the secrets Mara is keeping – and between Mara and her older brother – her best friend and partner in crime.


Despite the slow middle there was a lot about this book I enjoyed, and the ending left me desperate to get my hands on the next one to continue this story and discover more about just what is happening to both Mara and Noah.

What did you think of The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer? Was it a favourite of yours or could you just not get into the story? Let me know.

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32 thoughts on “The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer

  1. Holy moly, the plot sounds really interesting. Sounds like it has a pretty strong psychological aspect to it. I’ve actually had the chance to randomly come across the third book once. That’s when I looked up the series and realized how popular it was. Glad to see the first book is good enough to get you to pursue the the whole series! 😀 Great review, Beth!

    – Lashaan

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s a great series, and yes there is a strong psychological aspect to this book and the other two. It makes it difficult to understand what is happening at times because you’re never sure what exactly is going on.
      Definitely a popular series, and one I’d recommend as well, but it does get better with the second and third books.
      Thanks Lashaan! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. This book sounds so intriguing! I’ve seen it around and thought about picking it up, but something put me off it. I’m sorry it disappointed you, but at least you’re encouraged to continue on with the series so it’s not *horrible*, at the very least. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It was definitely an intriguing concept, and actually I think when it was first released I avoided it a little too. It was only when everyone on WordPress recommended it to me that I actually picked it up.
      Yeah the first book was a little disappointing but I’m glad I carried on with the series because the second and third were so much better! 😀

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  3. Lovely review, Beth! I am glad that you still gave this book 3 stars and enjoyed it despite the slow parts. I have to agree with you on some things, especially when you were thinking that Noah was just another trope. I thought that as well, as first, but as the story goes on, there is so much more to him that we don’t know and he becomes more and more interesting, I think. Also, I’m glad you enjoyed the plot and I hope you’ll read and like the other books more and more 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much Marie! 😀 Overall I still thought it was a good book, I guess my expectations were a little too high and I didn’t know what to expect from it either.
      Noah was the very definition of a character that grew on me, and considering what I thought when we met him, so to say, I was surprised by how much I liked him in the end.
      I actually finished the second book today and I enjoyed it a lot more (that cliffhanger ending too!) I’m probably going to read the third one tomorrow and I just can’t wait to see how it ends! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Expectations never are our friends! They can influence our experience with a book so much we end up disappointed 🙂 I am glad you enjoyed the story despite it not living up to the hype. Your mention of creepy parts is what makes me think I need to read it 🙂 I don’t know much about this book except for what I read in your review, but it does sound quite interesting. I like that the family dynamics are explored. Great review!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Nope, sometimes they’re really not. A lot of the time I’ve read books that have just completely blown my expectations out the water, I guess this was one that just couldn’t do the same.
      It was still a good story, and when it came down to it the things I didn’t enjoy in no way outweighed the things I did. There was a fair bit of creepiness in this book, and the unreliable narrator kind of made it more so at times because you were never sure what was really going on.
      I didn’t really know much about this book either but I kind of think going in blind is the best way to read it. It’s worth picking up, the second book in the series got so much better for me.
      Thanks Donna! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Aww I’m sorry it ended up not quite living up to your expectations (especially with how much I raved to you about it and wanted you to read it so badly 😂) but I am glad that you enjoy it despite the fact that you had some problems with it. I remember loving Noah from the moment he was first introduced but I think that’s more to do with me possibly loving male characters who are full of certain tropes. Which yeah, now that you mention it, he definitely was and so I can see why you didn’t warm up to him at first. And I completely agree with you about the family dynamics! That had to have been my favorite part of this books (and the rest of the series). I especially loved the close relationship Mara has with her older brother. As far as siblings in books go, they’re probably one of my top favorites. It’s definitely an atmospheric type read if I remember right. There are some downright creepy, horror movie worthy moments. I hope you end up enjoying the rest of the series a bit more than you enjoyed this one. I can’t wait to see your thoughts on both of the books. Great review as always, Beth! 😊♥

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Melissa, I still thought it was a good book, and I am glad I read it. I just think my expectations were a little too high and the book couldn’t really live up to them. I have carried on with the series and you’ll probably be pleased to hear I enjoyed the second one a lot more, and now I can’t wait to get started on the third!
      I don’t mind tropes in characters there just seemed to be too many in Noah when he was first introduced. Luckily the more I discovered about him the more he seemed to become a real character and I started liking him more (I loved him in the second book, and with the way the second book ended I NEED the third one now). Mara’s family were amazing, I would have liked to see more of her dad and younger brother but every scene between her and Daniel was amazing! 😀 They’re probably going to become a favourite of mine too.
      Definitely some creepy horror moments, and at times I remember being just as confused as Mara about what was happening which made it all the more creepy. She’s not sure what’s happened to her and what’s real or not and neither are we as the reader. I loved that part of this book.
      Thanks Melissa! ❤ 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yay! I’m glad you ended up enjoying the second book more. I think you have your review up so I’ll definitely have to go check it out in a minute. 😊
        Well I’m glad you ended up liking him over time. I have to admit learning more about him really did help his character. At first, even though I liked him, there were times when I didn’t really get his character but the more she revealed the more I liked him. Yes! The ending of the second book. The cliffhanger. There was over a year wait between the second and third book when I read them and it was torture. I would have loved to see more with her dad and younger brother too. Especially with the close relationship the whole family seemed to have despite everything.
        Same! It’s kind of like a thriller/mystery mixed with horror and paranormal elements. I loved it.
        You’re welcome, Beth! ♥

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Definitely, and I think I can see your comment on my second review ahead in my notifications so I’m guessing you did check it out! 😀
        I think there are some characters some people love right away and other people take a while to like them. I was the latter when it came to Noah but oh he was one of my favourite characters of the trilogy, before Mara but after Daniel actually! You probably already know this but she’s writing a trilogy from Noah’s POV isn’t she? I’m already looking forwards to that!
        Luckily I didn’t have to wait a year for the third book (I’m not good at waiting for sequels) but that was an insane cliffhanger, and actually most of the third book was completely insane as well! It’s kind of nice to see a YA paranormal book with such a strong family relationship, just yeah would have been nice if it was the whole family. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Yep! I heard about how she’s writing a trilogy in Noah’s POV. I’m a little on the fence about it. On on hand a continuation and Noah’s POV. I loved Noah so of course I want to learn more about him. Then on the other hand I’m iffy because I thought the last book had a solid, albeit open, ending. It was one I enjoyed and another trilogy makes me worried for my favorites 😂. I know I’ll end up having to read it though just because lol.
        Yeah, the third book was really insane. I remember how it hit the ground running from the first part. I loved it.
        It really is but yeah that would have been nice. 😊

        Liked by 1 person

      4. I was kind of wondering the same thing. I mean don’t get me wrong I loved Noah and would love to read more from his POV but at the same time I liked where the series ended and reading the blurb for the first book kind of has me worried for Mara and Noah’s relationship. I’ll end up reading it as well, no matter what really. I guess only time will tell what this series will do for the original series.
        That’s putting it mildly. It was kind of non stop from the start and I was completely addicted from the beginning as well! 😀

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      5. Yes! That’s another thing that has me worried. I guess since their romance was such a big part of the original trilogy I don’t see the point in crashing and burning it. IF that’s where she’s going with it. You know? And just generally I’m worried for Mara considering I was always rooting for her to gain the control she needed over her powers. But also a whole new trilogy means things will change.
        I definitely will too just because I’m so curious about it but yeah only time will tell. 😊

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      6. I don’t think, because like you said their romance was a huge part of the original trilogy, that it will crash and burn. I think they will both have some issues ahead of them but I think at the end Noah and Mara will still be together. At least that’s what I hope.
        Maybe the new trilogy will be a good thing and Mara will continue to develop her powers and her control, but who knows really.
        I may wait until some reviews have been posted so I can see what other people think before I pick this series up. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      7. I hope so too. I’m always going to want a happy-ish ending for those two. I heard that the new trilogy is going to be really centered on Noah’s story after the events of the first one. It was forever ago but the author tweeted a few things about it that I can’t remember. I might wait for a few reviews to pop up too. 😊

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  6. Well, you know I loved it. But I still have yet to read the last book. I know you’re like me and will continue this series to see what happens, especially with the cliffhanger at the end of the book (if my memory serves me right…)
    When you get to Retribution, I’ll read with you!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I do know that but I can’t believe you haven’t read the last book yet! I finished the second one today so I am going to jump straight into the third tomorrow, will you be able to do the same do you think? I actually enjoyed the second a lot more so my hopes are rising for the third!
      The cliffhanger ending in the second was a lot more powerful, but honestly I loved the ending to the first, the last few chapters really picked up the pace again. 🙂

      Like

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