The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin

Amazon Synopsis: 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...

 This book was one of this months buys but the fates wanted me to read it as I pulled it out of my TBR jar (well not a jar but a small Tupperware box). I started it a couple days ago but due to the stupid flu that I had been avoiding at school finally got to me and I was forced to stay home in bed. For that reason it took me 3 days to read this 452 page book. The chapters being really short helped on this front since I read faster if the chapters do not drag on.

The story follows Mara Dyers who, after the death of her best friend her not-so best friend and her not-so best friend's brother, aka her boyfriend, in an accident, is suffering with a kind of PTSD. This means that throughout the book, Mara suffers from delusions and hallucinations about what happened and it begins to incorporate aspects of her new life as well. As a device this was creepy as hell because, even after reading it, I am still not sure what was a hallucination and what wasn't. To top that there could be huge narrative gaps in this book since the main character is telling it from her point of view and on the very first page says "this is what I remember". Not instilling the biggest confidence in the source there, Mara.

To summarise for those who have not read the book, it is perfect for October. It is creepy and haunting with characters that you become invested in. I would not recommend this book to any tween aged audience members due to some of the content, but I guess if you promise not to swear, smoke or kill anyone then it would be OK. Skip to the bottom for my rating...


At first I thought Mara was going to be mourning her lost love Jude and trying to find out what happened to him but that is not the case. Enter Noah Shaw. He is one of the first people she meets and is the primary reason for Mara making a new enemy called Anna. Noah Shaw is a British guy who has a reputation at their elite private school as a man slag. He is a bad boy who smoke (people seem to have made a huge deal over his smoking, whether it be because they find it repulsive or incredibly sexy), and gets in fights but he change his scandalous ways after meeting Mara . With this love interest I did feel that I should rise and clap incredibly slowly for the originality.

What changed my mind though was the way Hodkin made him a bit empty inside. I will admit that I was really suspicious of Noah throughout the book. At the beginning it says "... a seventeen year old who likes Death Cab for Cutie... with a death count" but Mara does not seem to like Death Cab for Cutie that much. When they are in the car and Noah puts it on she says she is going to have to widen his music selection, so, by process of elimination, only Noah and Jude like the band. Maybe I am right, who knows but then everything changed and got really weird

The book was really cinematic though. This may just be me, I don't know, but whenever she hallucinated or a situation was created, I could visualise it really well in my mind and it was creepy as hell. 

What was also creepy was Mara's killing of the random people that get her angry. My history teacher said a couple weeks ago, when explaining why the knights went and killed Becket, that "we have all wished someone dead... thought 'it would be easier if they were dead'". He went on to try and convince the class he was not a psycho but I guess that applies to Mara, except she gets what she wants. The guy with the dog, Mabel, deserved to die. Think the audience imagined him dead as well as Mara so when he showed up with a hole in his head I had only the emotional reaction of joy. The Spanish teacher though? That was a surprise to me. I get the wanting to kill teachers metaphorically sometimes, especially those who make you do foreign languages (German in my case) but to actually suffocate them? Mara's growing cackle of laughter at moments when they die was weird as well. Makes me wonder if she will become darker and more evil in the next 2 books.

I had no idea this was going to turn into such a weird supernatural book. At the end they both have these superpowers that kind of work well together but are at opposite ends of the spectrum; one killing and one healing. Still not sure if I accept this plot point because whilst it is a cool plot twist, it differs so much from the tone of the rest of the book.

Other characters in the book are really well written from the annoying and meddling brothers (I have them and so I understand, Mara) to the quirky best friend.The mother in this story did grind on my nerves though. I just wanted to shake her and scream, "Back off you are suffocating me and you don't even exist!"

So I was really into the book but then the worst thing that could possibly happen happened... the love story got cheesy. about 3/4's of the way through, the sassy banter that made Noah and Mara such a different and refreshing couple was consumed by talks of needing each other till they die and never giving up on each other. I really hope this is not how it develops in the next book because I really like them both.

The ending of the book was shocking but not overwhelmingly so. So Jude, the one I thought was a long lost love, turns out he was a dick. Him basically trying to rape Mara triggered her during the 'accident' and makes her kill everyone... or so we think. After the cliche shooting of her father, Mara tries to hand herself in to the police (I did laugh at that, I'm sorry but I did). At said police station dick-face Jude appears. Turns out all those times she was hallucinating, yeah... not hallucinating. He is alive and now I want to read the sequel and find out how he did not die and looking back I wonder what was hallucinations and my brain does not know how to handle all this confusion. I will stop rambling now.

This book was the haunting October read I wanted it to be and I loved so much about it! I highly recommend this book.

Rating: 4.5/5


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