Monday, September 19, 2011

Mara Mondays - Review of THE UNBECOMING OF MARA DYER by Michelle Hodkin

Welcome back to the second installment of Mara Mondays! 
Don't forget to pre-order THE UNBECOMING OF MARA DYER from your favorite book seller, or make plans now to go to the store next Tuesday to get your hands on this incredible book!

And remember to check out this week's other Mara Mondays offerings and comment away to be entered in Lori's contest at Pure Imagination.
The Secret Life of a Avid Reader - Miami post
Greads - Quote graphics post

It's been three months since I first posted my review/thoughts on THE UNBECOMING OF MARA DYER, so I wanted to share it again for those of you who may have missed it, and to remind you of all of the reasons that you want to get your hands on this book when it releases next week!
  *This review originally posted in June. 

Author: Michelle Hodkin
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Release Date: September 27, 2011
Number of Pages: 464
Source of Book: Borrowed the ARC from Sarah @ Y.A. Love

Publisher Summary:
Mara Dyer believes life can't get any stranger than waking up in a hospital with no memory of how she got there.
     It can.
She believes there must be more to the accident she can't remember that killed her friends and left her strangely unharmed.
     There is.
She doesn't believe that after everything she's been through, she can fall in love.
     She's wrong.
OK...I know this is a really early review, but I needed to process my thoughts about this book - and that's why I have a book blog - to share my thoughts! :)

I should warn you now - you're in for high amounts of gushing about this book (but no major spoiling!). I had seen the gorgeous cover, read the summary, then read the first chapter preview and I was hooked and knew this was a must-read book for me.

THE UNBECOMING OF MARA DYER is one of the most interesting books that I have read in awhile. It blew my mind, kept me on my toes, crawled under my skin, tugged at my heart, and won't get out of my head. It is a multi-layered story: part psychological thriller, part epic teen romance, part high school story, part mystery, part family dynamics, and part suspense. Oh, and I can't forget the slight paranormal tendencies (in the mental sense not creatures) underlying the events of this book. It is a page-turning, hard to put down, want to know what will happen and how the main character will figure it all out kind of book. It starts with a note from Mara setting up the premise that she's going to be telling you her story (under a pseudonym) of why her life is not normal. It's definitely a book you have to read with an open mind so you can just go with it. At times I thought, "oh, this is like ___" only to find out I was wrong, but I could definitely see the influences of other YA books, but done with unique twists. There are lots of "what is going on?!" and "did that just happen?!" moments, but that's what made it so much more readable.

Michelle Hodkin (a debut author!) has an engaging writing style that is a nice balance of descriptive, exciting, humorous, suspenseful, sarcastic, and intelligent. It just draws you in without even realizing it and you find yourself negotiating "just one more chapter before I go to sleep" fifteen times in a row until you can't keep your eyes open anymore. Parts of this book (especially the dialogue) were so smile to myself entertaining I found myself rereading them just to soak them in more and deeply process the subtle references and entertaining quality.

And the main character Michelle has written in Mara? Not the most reliable, or most sane, but she's got an awesome sass to her that I love, and underneath her insecurity and unsureness has a strength and integrity that drew me to her even more. Mara doesn't remember what happened the night the building collapsed and her friends were killed. One of the best parts of this book is the way that Mara's memories of that night start to come back to her. We get flashbacks through her dreams as she gets them - leaving us feeling as unsure as Mara does about what's going on - but eventually we finally get the whole story of that night and the story comes together really well. It's written in the way that makes you feel like the character is feeling at that point in the book - you'll be scared, hopeful, worried, confused, happy, and freaked out when Mara is feeling that way as you go through the story with her.

Should we talk boys now? How about my newest (and quite possibly best ever) literary crush - Noah Shaw. Really, after reading it, I sigh just hearing his name. I love, love, love Noah's character. He's got a great way of talking (and lots of hidden secrets to come) and interacting and being that is just captivating. The parts I found myself rereading the most were the interactions between Mara and Noah. Now, I should warn you, at first I was a little skeptical because he seemed like the stereotypical bad boy, insta-crush, jerk to girls, love interest character, but there's much, much more than meets the eye (or rumor mill as the case may be) with Noah Shaw. Don't let his early interactions fool you - there is an epic sort of romance that develops between Mara and Noah that will have you swooning by the end.

Secondary characters deserve a mention too - maybe because I have two brothers myself and am the middle/only girl, I really enjoyed Mara's relationship with her brothers - especially her older brother Daniel. He's great. He watches out for her, covers for her, protects her, and pushes her to get out there. I want a big brother like him. We also see Mara at her new school after they move out of state and meet her new friend Jamie. He is awesomely sarcastic and witty and good comedic relief. He also serves as commentary to set the stage for what's going on in the new school's dynamics. I enjoyed reading both Daniel's and Jamie's characters; I would have liked a little more of Jamie though.

This book all leads up to an ending that is unexpected and left me wondering What?! How did that happen?! It made me want to go back and reread the whole book with that new perspective and see if it changed my thoughts on earlier parts of the story. It ends at a point that added a final cliffhanger of a twist and left me hoping that there would be more - and there will be a sequel (thank goodness because I need answers!) You may feel a little off balance at the end of this one, but I truly think that's part of the reason that it is so good. I want my stories to surprise me once in awhile and this one was definitely surprising. Be on the lookout for THE UNBECOMING OF MARA DYER in stores on September 27th!


  1. After your review, I am definitely dying to read and review this book too! It sounds wonderful and I can't wait to meet the characters.

  2. Great review. I can't wait to read this book.

  3. Great review again. I have to say that I love the main characters, but sometimes secondary characters do make the book. I can't wait to read this book.

  4. I was already excited to read the book, but it's always good to have yet another rave review!

  5. I've heard so many great things, I don't even know where to start. I love when a book takes you by surprise goes outside of the norm. It's good to be thrown for a crazy loop every once in a while!

  6. I'm so eager for this novel after reading your review. Sounds utterly fantastic!

  7. I love reviews where you can just feel the reviewers excitement! The multi-layered story part has me interested, I love all the mixing of genres/themes.

  8. I met Michelle Hodkin, I think you know this, because you won a book based on that tour from me. Anyway, I have to tell you, she is really cool. I haven't read it yet, but I'm dying for it!!!


  9. another review that makes me wanna read this book!

  10. Noah. That boy,, is so swoon worthy! And I haven't even read the book yet!
    I hope it blows my expectations out of the water because right now I've got a huge truckload of excitement for this.