Katy's Reviews > The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin
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Jan 25, 12

bookshelves: young-adult, what-the
Recommended for: No one
Read from October 04 to 06, 2011

I was flipping back and forth between 1 and 2 stars but I think I have settled on 1 because I do feel like I was lured into something bad that was disguised as something good and that feels like lying which I hate. I was drawn to this book by the cover, as most on this site will admit too and I feel that the old adage about books and covers should have, in my case, been heeded, but I have yet to learn this lesson and so I will vent some of my issues with the book in the hopes of saving others from my fate.

All started out well for me, as Mara wakes up in a hospital bed with no idea how she got there, only to find out that she is the only survivor of a major building collapse that claimed the lives of her best friend, boyfriend and boyfriend's sister. After being released from the hospital she convinces her family that the best way for her to "get better" is to move, so her family uproots itself from RI and moves to Florida. Because nothing helps grief and mild psychosis more than adding the stress of a new town, new school and making new friends to an already fragile psyche. Still upon moving to Florida, surprise, surprise she is still plagued by nightmares and hallucinations about that had proceeded her release from the hospital and were, in a large part the reason her family moved.

On the first day at her new, private school she sees Noah and is instantly in intrigued by him, only problem is Noah has a quite a reputation around school and she is warned by the only decent character in the book, Jamie, that Noah is a a-hole, heartbreaker, and a bit of a whore, all of which, Mara takes hold of for all of 48 hours, if that. Noah's reputation and track record alone should have been enough to keep her away from him, but how can you say no to a guy who speaks 3 languages, but knows the word vagina in 3 more, has an English accent, but only "sounds" English half the time, drives a Prius, but smokes, and is a troubled soul, but treats girls like tissues? Well I could, but I guess Mara can't and this is were the book falls apart for me. Why are women writing books for young girls that encourage these girls to lower their standards and give them false hope? PEOPLE DON'T CHANGE FOR OTHER PEOPLE. And yet here we are being presented with the idea that this man-whore would become a one gal man just because Mara is "different" from the other girls in school. PLEASE! The best part is that Mara was insistent early on that Noah was not a guy she would date, but it seemed like 4 chapters later she is thinking she was in love with him!?!?!? I was seeing red at this point and wanted to throw the book across the room.

The language itself left something to be desired, I am even really talking about the cussing that was going on, but I know NO teenagers who speak like Mara and Noah and at times their conversations were awkward to the point of heavy eye rolling on my part. What really did me in through was Mara passing comment about her "Spanish class being brought to you by the letter C", this in reference to her teacher who gave her a failing grade!?!?!?! What is going on here? I was shocked and disgusted to see even a reference to this in a YA book, I am beginning to wonder who these books are written for, is it the 14 to 15 year old High School student or the 20 to 30 TwiMom? I hate to be this critical but this is the point in the book that dropped this from 2 stars to 1 star.

All told, this book has a serious identity crisis going on, it can't decide what genre it wants to be which frustrated me to no end, just when I was getting used to the idea of Mara having some super secret power, Hodkin would throw a curve, but not a good one, this curve would involve a new or different plot twist that would last for 25 to 30 pages and then swing back to either an old or new plot twist all of which resulted in me getting whiplash.

Finally, I think what bothered me the most was that this could have been a good, fun story, if the author had only stayed to one plot and story line and kept Mara the same throughout the book, instead of going from a girl with a set of standards to a girl willing to lower them because Noah was a pretty face. Do not be deceived, that was what drew her in, not that they had things in common or great conversation, but that Noah was a pretty face with a nice body and Mara compromised herself to get it.
What is this telling young people?
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Reading Progress

10/04/2011 page 255
56.0% "Well being at about the half-way point I am still unsure how I feel, I am psyching myself up on the fact that regardless of how I feel now, which seems to be cautious optimism, I know in my gut that I will be frustrated by the end, if for nothing more than knowing that yet AGAIN a YA book can't stand alone."
10/06/2011 page 415
92.0% "Okay book, what are you? Are you a YA PNR, a Mystery/Thriller, or just confused? I am going to go with the later, I wish Hodge would pick a genre and plot line and stick with it. How is it possible to have too much and too little going on at the same time? I am worried when I get to the end of this I may have a mess to clean up after my head explodes."

Comments (showing 1-7 of 7) (7 new)

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Wendy Darling I totally agree with all the points you made, Katy. I was really turned off by this book, too. Great review.


message 2: by Katy (new) - rated it 1 star

Katy Thanks : ) The more YA I read the more worried I get for the young girls who are reading it. But in full disclosure what really did me in was that Noah really did only sound British about half of time and only when she threw in a random Britishism that everyone knew, sometimes it's not righteous indignation that gets me as make as inconsistency : )


Wendy Darling I worry about the messages that some of these books send, too. Not that I think every book has to be a shining moral example, but when the behavior is just so ugly, it really makes me uncomfortable.

Hah, and I know what you mean about the British thing. I spent a lot of summers in the UK so I noticed that--I actually forgot he was supposed to be British and had to double check when I went to write my review! There were so many problems with the mythology, the plotting, etc...a lot of inconsistencies.

We sure are in the minority with this opinion, though, hah!


message 4: by Katy (new) - rated it 1 star

Katy Well we can take comfort in the fact that those in the minority are usually right ; )


Wendy Darling Heh. I just saw your last remark. ;)


Angela Oliver I would like to see a book where the female protaognist turns down the sexy love interest in favour of her geeky male friend. For example, if she'd wound up with Jamie. And what was with him just disappearing from the plot? Like the author no longer wanted to bother with him.


message 7: by Katy (new) - rated it 1 star

Katy Lemurkat wrote: "I would like to see a book where the female protaognist turns down the sexy love interest in favour of her geeky male friend. For example, if she'd wound up with Jamie. And what was with him just d..."

I couldn't agree more! I feel like he was just there as an oh well I guess I need someone to warn her off, only to have her not listen in the end. I lay even money to say Jamie is not even mentioned in the second book. Second book, my God have mercy on our souls!


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