emma's Reviews > The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin
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it was ok
bookshelves: ya, fantasy, dark, unpopular-opinion, eh, owned, reviewed, 1-and-a-half-stars

remember when i read a 2011 classic in 2018 and it went about as well as you'd expect based off that insane sentence??? yeah. i posted the review. find it here: https://emmareadstoomuch.wordpress.co...

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Well, this book didn’t exactly age like a fine wine!!!!

This is the wearing-eyeliner-on-your-bottom-lid-but-not-your-top of books. The I Heart Justin Bieber graphic tee of series start-offs. The Twilight of YA fantasy paranormal romance. Wait. Twilight is the Twilight of that.

Anyway.

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer has all those fresh fresh 2011 tropes we knew and loved back in the day, and they...do not look clean as a whistle in the harsh light of modernity.

Young adult fantasy isn’t exactly a utopia in 2018, but man, reading this book really made me wonder how we survived for so many years! This was like a grocery list of lightly offensive tropes. YA typically has at least one of them, but to have so many! It’s almost impressive.

Except no.

There’s a certain je ne sais quoi about YA fantasy of this type that is immediately evident. Maybe it’s the mildly sh*tty writing; maybe it’s the intense self-ostracization of the inevitably brunette protagonist; or maybe it’s the INSTANT APPEARANCE OF THE HOTTEST BOY IN SCHOOL, WHO NEVER TALKS TO ANY GIRLS but ohmygod wait is he coming to talk to you??? Ohmygod Mara!!!

It’s probably the latter.

So I knew from the get-go that this was going to be a Twilightian tale, but I didn’t know just how bad it would get. Until I was straight up informed, with the following quote, delivered straight into the eyes of our protagonist by the hottest British mouth ever to grace the Florida coast:

“You’re not like other girls.”

The subtext was screaming those five words so hard I didn’t think that they needed to be said outright!!! But I guess I forgot that the writing of this book is Not Good.

But even before that, I was given a warning. The quintessential good-looking blonde rich mean teens that rule this high school are named Anna and Aiden. Aiden is gay. His nickname is “The Mean Queen.”

When the lovely Mara, our unique brunette protagonist, asks her token gay friend - who is actually a token bi friend in this book for flair (but still professes his lack of attraction to Mara in order to be the sexless fixture so required by all early 2010s teens) - why Aiden has this nickname, Jamie (said lack-of-sex object) says because it’s obvious, and because he’s mean.

Are they...are they calling him a “queen” because he’s gay?

Uhhh. Pretty sure that sh*t wasn’t exactly enthusiastically approved even a whopping seven years ago.

There is also, in another totally predictable twist of horribleness, so much slut shaming based on clothes. Every mean character (meaning every single female who isn’t Mara, her love interest’s sister, or her brother’s girlfriend) is described for the absolute horrors of their, like, showing a shoulder or whatever.

Gasp!

One little tidbit that I forgot even happened in this type of book was that a natural branching off from the not like other girls trope was the you-don’t-need-makeup cliché???? So classic. So good. That’s another one that’s just outright said:

“You don’t need makeup.”

Soooo romanticcccc. What a dreamboat. Question mark. Is that the desired response???

Furthermore.

The girl hate in this is like none I’ve ever seen, or at least like none I can remember and haven’t repressed due to my having read it in middle school.

EVERY SINGLE GIRL IN THE BOOK EXCLUDING THE AFOREMENTIONED TWO HATES MARA SIMPLY BASED ON THE FACT THAT SHE HAS GOTTEN INTO THE PANTS, AND APPARENTLY HEART, OF ONE NOAH SHAW.

But I should talk about Noah Shaw before I talk about the girl hate.

Noah is another amaaaaazing cliché who has somehow developed the ability to walk and talk and whatnot. I was excited to get into Noah, because I remembered everyone lusting after him in 2011.

I should have realized what that would mean.

Noah is the hot inexplicably British resident of Miami, whose house is twenty-five thousand square feet but you would never know it because he’s just so down to earth. His hair is always a mess! He doesn’t tie his tie right! He wears T-shirts underneath his uniform button-down, for some reason!

Plus talk about toxic masculinity!!! He punches a guy in the face for saying he’d f*ck Mara so hard that whoever pulled him out would be crowned King of England. (Which, disgusting, but like...also kind of funny. Almost. If it weren’t a rape joke.) Then he gets in another fight like two days later, but it might have been longer because sometimes they just say “weeks passed” in this book. ANOTHER AWESOME TROPE.

Noah checks the tragic backstory box in a big way (his mom was murdered in front of him at a protest and his dad is, like, so rich but so distant) and he’s SUCH a bad boy. He’s really promiscuous, but we won’t shame him for it like we shame all the girls in this book because I could, like, totally fix him.

It’s, in a word, amazing. No satire could ever lock onto male love interest tropes like this book manages to.

Also at one point Noah literally says (always outright with this book!) that he’s going to “fix” Mara. So. Just to let you know that the mental illness rep is sh*t, alongside the gay and bi rep being awful. And also Mara’s half-Indian, which comes into play only alongside a mention of the saris her mom buries in her closet in order to “be American.”

Make up your own mind on that one?

Anyway. When Mara gives into the ~true love~ between Noah and herself, girls she doesn’t know elbow her. They shove her books out of her arms. They hate her so much that when the Spanish teacher fails her on the exam out of spite, none of them stand up for her.

Gasp!

The plot of this is also so confusing. Time passes in jumps. Every day follows the same structure so it’s impossible to tell what’s happening.

But it all boils down beautifully to the not-so-happy-but-like-happy-in-an-edgy-emo-way ending: It turns out Mara and Noah are meant to be because their chosen-one style magic powers match up. (Aw!)

Bottom line: This book is truly a better, more obvious encapsulation of every YA fantasy trope I can think of than any satire could ever possibly hope to be. Which is, in a way, strangely entertaining.

I might have to continue the series just because of that.


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this book is...truly a relic of a bygone time in YA history
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Reading Progress

January 30, 2018 – Started Reading
January 31, 2018 – Shelved
January 31, 2018 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-50 of 53 (53 new)


message 1: by Vanessa (new)

Vanessa I remember a time when almost everyone on my timeline was reading this one and while I thought the covers looked kinda cool, it never spoke to me (still doesn't). It is surprising to see it almost vanish, tho.


Regan Clark LMAO right I just reread that over summer and was like....wow I was so into this when it first came out


message 3: by Clare (new)

Clare Snow Most books don't stand the test of time. I had a look at my friends ratings. there was a whole lotta 4 stars, mingled with a couple 1 stars.


emma Vanessa wrote: "I remember a time when almost everyone on my timeline was reading this one and while I thought the covers looked kinda cool, it never spoke to me (still doesn't). It is surprising to see it almost ..."

i am a huuuuuge fan of the cover. ya seriously i can't believe this book has been so fully forgotten


emma Regan wrote: "LMAO right I just reread that over summer and was like....wow I was so into this when it first came out"

i'm only just now reading it for the first time and it is Hilarious


emma oliver wrote: "AHAHHAH! I remember reading this and thinking it was the total shiz but i look back and it was so... formulated and typical of that whole “era” of YA. Good times."

IT IS SO TYPICAL OF THE ERA i feel like an archaeologist of ya fantasy


emma Clare wrote: "Most books don't stand the test of time. I had a look at my friends ratings. there was a whole lotta 4 stars, mingled with a couple 1 stars."

sounds about right


message 8: by Alexia (last edited Feb 01, 2018 02:13AM) (new) - rated it 1 star

Alexia this was a nightmare to read. I didn't even bother finishing it :d


message 9: by Alex (new) - rated it 1 star

Alex Zagorac this was a literal flaming pile of garbage


message 10: by Fremom3 (new)

Fremom3 Sometimes your “bad” reviews make me WANT to read the book!


Alexandra lol what do you mean by the last line?


message 12: by emma (new) - rated it 2 stars

emma Alexia wrote: "this was a nightmare to read. I didn't even bother finishing it :d"

i thought it was kind of inexplicably entertaining, but then again i thought the same thing about Twilight


message 13: by emma (new) - rated it 2 stars

emma ✨ Alex wrote: "this was a literal flaming pile of garbage"

you're not wrong


message 14: by emma (new) - rated it 2 stars

emma Fremom3 wrote: "Sometimes your “bad” reviews make me WANT to read the book!"

i actually love that


message 15: by emma (new) - rated it 2 stars

emma Alexandra wrote: "lol what do you mean by the last line?"

it is just such a relic of what YA fantasy was like in 2011....i'll explain more whenever i get around to posting the full review


message 16: by Vanessa (last edited Feb 02, 2018 03:18AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Vanessa can't wait to read your review! when I first read this book it was 2013 and I loved this series. lately I've unhauled the whole series, understanding how shallow and sometimes toxic in its glorification of mental illnesses it actually is. it also is really silly - like the love interest, her behaviour and all. it deeply is a relic of a time luckily long gone!


message 17: by emma (new) - rated it 2 stars

emma Vanessa wrote: "can't wait to read your review! when I first read this book it was 2013 and I loved this series. lately I've unhauled the whole series, understanding how shallow and sometimes toxic in its glorific..."

so true!!! crazy to think there was a time when this was, like. a normal book


message 18: by Sara (new) - rated it 2 stars

Sara read Twilight and Mara Dyer back in 2013 and my level of obsession with these guilty pleasures was off charts... it was only when i reread Mara Dyer last year, right after binge reading the raven boys
(an atrocious sin i tell you) that it dawned on me what a waste of precious life-sustaining trees it is...


message 19: by emma (new) - rated it 2 stars

emma Sara wrote: "read Twilight and Mara Dyer back in 2013 and my level of obsession with these guilty pleasures was off charts... it was only when i reread Mara Dyer last year, right after binge reading the raven b..."

lmao

i've read many worse books but reading this after the raven boys would not put this one in the best light


message 20: by Emma (new) - added it

Emma Oh god, I have this trilogy on my bookshelf and now I'm not sure if I want to read it :D Great review!


Alexa Perfect review!!! It's crazy how a lot of the super popular books back in the 2000s/early 2010s were kinda just mediocre. A lot has change in YA over the last 10 years and it's definitely been for the better!


message 22: by el (new) - rated it 4 stars

el A+ review lmao


message 23: by Melissa (new)

Melissa Stacy Ew. Just, ew.


Katrin D ahahah, this sounds so bad I want to read it now! 😂


message 25: by Samantha (new)

Samantha Even the synopsis on goodreads sounds pretty terrible.


message 26: by Georgia (new)

Georgia Looool I love your reviews but I’m so nervous incase you give a bad review to a book I love 🤣


message 27: by Vanessa (last edited Mar 09, 2018 10:19AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Vanessa regarding mara being half-indian, it always bugged me how her brother has indian features, just like their mom, but mara herself is SO WHITE, LIKE SO DAMN WHITE

i mean,,,, embarrassing

great review!


message 28: by Clare (last edited Mar 09, 2018 10:38AM) (new)

Clare Snow Is everyone in this thread excited that a companion series starring our brooding hero came out last year and book 2 is out this year. Guess what its called??

*drum roll please*

The Becoming of Noah Shaw My one friend who rated it gave it a big 1☆

Tell me she's wrong...


Vanessa Clare wrote: "Is everyone in this thread excited that a companion series starring our brooding hero came out last year and book 2 is out this year. Guess what its called??

*drum roll please*

[book:The Becoming..."


it's a terrible, terrible book, that one. who needed a new series? ugh


message 30: by Clare (new)

Clare Snow Vanessa wrote: "It's a terrible, terrible book, that one. who needed a new series? ugh ..."

It took her a few yrs between series to get the terrible juuuuust right. 😂

I found this terrible quote so no one has to torture themselves:

"She’s a rock I want to break myself against."


Irtika Couldn’t have written it any better than that!!!


message 32: by Minni Mouse (new)

Minni Mouse Wowwww, no kidding? I'm going to remove this from my TBR, then. Life's too short to be living in 2011.


message 33: by emma (new) - rated it 2 stars

emma Emma wrote: "Oh god, I have this trilogy on my bookshelf and now I'm not sure if I want to read it :D Great review!"

it is...sometimes fun? in a hateful way? idk how to be encouraging about this one


message 34: by emma (new) - rated it 2 stars

emma Alexa wrote: "Perfect review!!! It's crazy how a lot of the super popular books back in the 2000s/early 2010s were kinda just mediocre. A lot has change in YA over the last 10 years and it's definitely been for ..."

for SURE ty


message 35: by emma (new) - rated it 2 stars

emma el wrote: "A+ review lmao"

thank you sm


message 36: by emma (new) - rated it 2 stars

emma Melissa wrote: "Ew. Just, ew."

accurate


message 37: by emma (new) - rated it 2 stars

emma Katrin wrote: "ahahah, this sounds so bad I want to read it now! 😂"

if you're looking for a hate read this is the book for you


message 38: by emma (new) - rated it 2 stars

emma Samantha wrote: "Even the synopsis on goodreads sounds pretty terrible."

then it's a shockingly truthful synopsis


message 39: by emma (new) - rated it 2 stars

emma Georgia wrote: "Looool I love your reviews but I’m so nervous incase you give a bad review to a book I love 🤣"

thank you but it's semi-inevitable


message 40: by emma (new) - rated it 2 stars

emma Vanessa wrote: "regarding mara being half-indian, it always bugged me how her brother has indian features, just like their mom, but mara herself is SO WHITE, LIKE SO DAMN WHITE

i mean,,,, embarrassing

great review!"


omg over and over it's like "my brother and my mom have indian features!!! not me lol!!! i'm extremely White haha"


message 41: by emma (new) - rated it 2 stars

emma Clare wrote: "Vanessa wrote: "It's a terrible, terrible book, that one. who needed a new series? ugh ..."

It took her a few yrs between series to get the terrible juuuuust right. 😂

I found this terrible quote ..."


VOMIT


message 42: by emma (new) - rated it 2 stars

emma Ira wrote: "Couldn’t have written it any better than that!!!"

ty and apologies for your suffering


message 43: by emma (new) - rated it 2 stars

emma Minni Mouse wrote: "Wowwww, no kidding? I'm going to remove this from my TBR, then. Life's too short to be living in 2011."

oh god yes. the calendar year of 2011 was enough 2011 to last a lifetime


message 44: by Jaime (new) - added it

Jaime This is one of those books that has been on my to-read list for a long time. Maybe I should wait a few decades, like, when 2011 is trendy and read it then...


message 45: by emma (new) - rated it 2 stars

emma Jaime wrote: "This is one of those books that has been on my to-read list for a long time. Maybe I should wait a few decades, like, when 2011 is trendy and read it then..."

lmao if 2011 comes back into fashion, this is the book for you


katrina I read this back in 2015 and even then it felt dated. It feels like an interesting time capsule because it sits right on the transition between when ya fantasy was all overwrought paranormal romances to when it was all undercooked dystopian fiction and it’s got all the ‘greatest’ parts of both eras. But other than that it’s not a good series.


message 47: by emma (new) - rated it 2 stars

emma katrina wrote: "I read this back in 2015 and even then it felt dated. It feels like an interesting time capsule because it sits right on the transition between when ya fantasy was all overwrought paranormal romanc..."

omggg so true. it's really so strange to return to paranormal romance at all when it's just...nonexistent anymore. and for good reason honestly


katrina Not to spoil it for you but if you ever read the 2nd and 3rd book you’ll see what I mean about the paranormal/dystopian mashup. It’s such a weird series lol.


message 49: by emma (new) - rated it 2 stars

emma katrina wrote: "Not to spoil it for you but if you ever read the 2nd and 3rd book you’ll see what I mean about the paranormal/dystopian mashup. It’s such a weird series lol."

i will probably not but you never know


♆Hayley (TheVillainousReader) I remember loving this in 2011 when I was young and naive. I’m scared to know what I would think now😹


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