Review: The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer

29 November, 2011 Reviews 4 comments

Review: The Unbecoming of Mara DyerThe Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin
Series: Mara Dyer #1
Published by Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers on September 27th 2011
Pages: 452
Genres: Paranormal Romance, Young Adult
Format: Hardcover
Source: Library
Amazon Good BooksBook Depository

Mara Dyer doesn’t think life can 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 mysteriously unharmed.

There is.

She doesn’t believe that after everything she’s been through, she can fall in love.

She’s wrong.

Hmm…Where do I even start with this book? I guess I should start by saying The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer and I have this awkward love/hate relationship. If this book were a person, it’d be the boyfriend I sometimes had fun with, but never wanted to take with me in public because I knew he would do something stupid and embarrass the hell outta me.

For majority of the first half of the book, I wanted to stomp it into the ground with my pair of patent leather pumps. However, somewhere along the lines, I started to enjoy myself a bit. I’d hear a strange sounds coming from my mouth only to realize, “Oh my, that was a chuckle.” In many ways, I can really see why so many people would really like this book, but I can also see why others would want to gorge their eyes out with a high school cafeteria spork.

Mara Dyer wakes up in a hospital bed one day with no recollection of how she got there or what happened to her friends who were killed in the accident that she managed to survive. Hoping for a new beginning, her family packs up and moves to Florida. As the memories Mara thought were lost start to slowly make a reappearance and dead bodies seem to pop up like daisies, she notices something is not quite right with her. She, then, struggles to keep hold of reality while trying to figure out the mystery of what really happened to her in her old hometown.

The Good:

I’ll start with the good first since there are a few things I did like and I have so much more “bad” to rant about later in the review.The cover is beautiful! It has to be one of my favorite covers of the year and I get shivers just looking at it. Not only that, but the book’s premise really appealed to me and is easily the biggest reason why I continued to turn page after page. It was a surprisingly quick and easy read and the writing style wasn’t bad either. I really appreciated that both of Mara’s parents were around, even though they seemed to dissapear at the most convenient of times. And like I said earlier some of the dialog I did enjoy and found funny. Most of the best moments for this book is between Mara and Noah, the love interest.

…okaaayyy so that’s all I got for the good. Man, that’s a bit pathetic. It’s barely a paragraph.

The Bad:

This book had a lot of potential and for the longest time, I couldn’t exactly put my finger on what bothered me about the book. If it weren’t for the following issues, this could have been a 4 star read for me, possibly more.

The books biggest issues are the actual character and all the sterotypes that come along with them. They were completely extra. The gay black guy, the extra bitchy popular girl who hates the MC for some vain, insignificant reason accompanied by tweedle dumb (her trusty side kick or fashion accessory. I can’t decide which.), the bad boy who truly isn’t bad (he has feelings, he’s deep and likes to “fix” people), and the obnoxious, perfect, older brother.

1. Jamie.
Jamie is Mara’s new best friend in Florida. He also happens to be a bisexual, Jewish, Black male with dreadlocks and a tongue ring. Oh, and he’s adopted. Yes, I know. He is quite a little token cocktail, isn’t he? Hodkin, you want to put a PoC or a bisexual or a Jewish person in your story? Be my guest. But, why, oh why, did he have to be all THREE AT ONCE? And if he wasn’t “Black enough” let’s give him dreads. And, oh noz, he isn’t “gay enough” either, we must add a tongue ring! And what the hell, let’s urbanizehim while we are at it. Funny thing is he knows he’s the token character:

“But none of this matters, because you’re not going to listen to your token black Jewish bi friend, are you?”

That is the part where Hodkin almost owed me a new Kindle. I literally had to stop reading or I was going to lose it. His characterization was poor, poor, poor. It felt like he was trying entirely too hard to be both gay and Black, neither of which I found convincing. About halfway through the book we don’t see him again and I couldn’t even be mad at that because I was too busy celebrating the fact I no longer had to endure his weird hip-hop lingo anymore. I realize this may have been Hodkin’s attempt to add diversity to her story, but guess what?

2. Daniel.
Or as I liked to call him: The kiss-ass perfectionist. He was just too over the top to be believable. He is perfect in every way: Perfect student, perfect son, perfect brother. I can totally see why Mara was annoyed by this. Every time Mara wants to go somewhere, Daniel has to first talk with their mother about it. AND IT ALWAYS WORKS. I have an issue when one sibling seems to hold that much power in a hosehold. There is a scene in the book where he is looking at the mail and says

“What lucky institution of higher education accepted me today?” he asked, eyes on the envelopes. “Ah, Harvard. That’s nice. And Stanford!”

Wow, so not only is he a kiss ass, but he’s conceded too! If I ever saw Daniel out in public with his mom, it would go something like this:
I would to tap him on the shoulder and go, “Hey, buddy. You dropped something.” “Huh? What? Where?” he’d say. And I would respond, “Your lips. I see them over there dangling off your momma’s right ass cheek. Go and get ’em, will ya? It’s distracting.”

3. Noah
Noah is the bad boy love interest of the story that has had sex with the entire female population of the school. >insert eye roll here< His character is also over the top with bad boy stereotypes. He gets away with everything because everyone loves him. He is loaded with cash money. He’s ridiculously good looking with a *le gasp* English accent. He’s incredibly arrogant, rude and tactless. Oh, and most importantly, he only has eyes for Mara. Of course. Once he enters the picture, Mara completely forgets about everything. *cough*the plot*cough* I suppose it really isn’t her fault. After all, Noah possesses a “panty-dropping smile.” Hide your daughters!

Later in the story, a small piece of me actually started to like him, but unlike Mara, I couldn’t excuse his original jackassness. Nope, couldn’t do it.

4. Mara (What is your real name anyway?)
I didn’t entirely dislike her, but I felt she made some really crappy decisions. This story could have really taken off and gone to an interesting place if she didn’t become so obsessed with Noah. There were times where I thought she would use that crazy brain of hers, but then she would turn right around and ignore the problem. There was one scene when Jamie tells her that Noah caught him with his hand up Noah’s little sister’s skirt and Noah runs off and has sex with Jamie’s older sister as revenge. When she actually talks to Noah about it, he admits it and what does she do? She just changes the subjectand they never talk about it again. Then, there are times when Mara’s logical skills seem to fail her all together.

What could I say? Noah, despite you being an asshole, or maybe because of it, I’d like to rip off your clothes and have your babies. Don’t tell.

Oh, yeah, Mara. That makes total sense. Or how about when you and Noah are in his room about to kiss, but you decide you don’t want to kiss him because the last time you did, he almost died. (I’m still not clear if this was one of her hallucinations or not.) Yet, you think having sex instead would be safer?

Because of situations like this, I just could not connect with Mara at all. I suppose I was supposed to feel sorry for her when her teacher threw chalk at her and made fun of her in front of the entire class. Sorry, Mara. Don’t care.

Then the teacher gave her an ‘F’ for showing her up on her oral exam. She told you to sit your ass down, Mara. That means do not pass go. Do not collect your $200. It means STFO. And you wondered why you got a failing grade. Then you went off, killed her, and had a psychotic break down and lost two hours of your life. Was I supposed to care then too? Still, don’t care.

5. The Plot
I think The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer ran into the same issue Incarnate did. It got so wrapped up in the romance; it completely discarded the premise of the book. When something exciting actually started happening it completely came out of left field and hit Mara in the head. I was really disappointed that we really didn’t find out more about Mara’s abilities. The explanation given by the end of the book was easy to guess and I was expecting more answers. And I read somewhere that this book is supposed to scare you a bit. Lies.

6. The Ending
Damn that cliffhanger. I actually finished reading the book and I’m rewarded with the worst cliffhanger possible. I stated screaming at my poor Kindle Touch (which is awesome, by the way. Thanks for asking. :D). WTF, dude!

Okay, I have to stop naming things that irked me or I’ll start sharp shooting a star off this review. I’ll read the next book, but along with Incarnate‘s sequel, it’s going right on my “You’re on probation” shelf.

Oh, and riddle me this: How the is this book considered paranormal? You go the entire book with alomst nothing supernatural until the very end and suddenly it’s paranormal? That’s just lazy. Okay, I’m really done this time. LOL.

Steph Sinclair

Steph Sinclair

Co-blogger at Cuddlebuggery
I'm a bibliophile trying to make it through my never-ending To-Be-Read list, equal opportunity snarker, fangirl and co-blogger here at Cuddlebuggery. Find me on GoodReads.

4 Responses to “Review: The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer”

    • cuddlebuggery

      I still feel like I left out a bunch of things I wanted to add. I originally thought I would give it 3 stars, but some things just bothered me a little too much.

  1. Juli Helms

    HA! That is my thoughts without extreme, probably-too-much mincing! <3 this review. You deserve a giant double chocolatey-chip frappuccino.

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