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The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer (The Mara Dyer Trilogy) Hardcover – September 27, 2011
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"Haunting and dreamlike, the intrigue and romance of Mara Dyer will inescapably draw you in." --Cassandra Clare, author of the New York Times bestselling Mortal Instruments series
"The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer strikes a rare balance of darkly funny, deliciously creepy and genuinely thoughtful. One minute I was laughing out loud, and the next, I was so scared I wanted to turn on all the lights and hide under the covers. Michelle Hodkin’s talent and range are obvious, from her chilling descriptions to romantic scenes that almost crackled on the page. I’ve never read anything quite like it."--Veronica Roth, New York Times bestselling author of Divergent
"A clever, captivating thriller, The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer is perfect for those (like me) who like their heroes dark, their heroines dangerous, and their romances seriously twisted."
--Kirsten Miller, New York Times bestselling author of The Eternal Ones
"WOW. Michelle Hodkin's debut will keep you guessing until the last page--and long after."
--Beth Revis, New York Times bestselling author of Across the Unviverse
"As spooky and twisty as it is lyrical and beautiful, The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer grabbed me and wouldn't let go. Read this one with the lights on." --Rachel Hawkins, New York Times bestselling author of Demonglass
About the Author
Michelle Hodkin grew up in South Florida, went to college in New York, and studied law in Michigan. When she isn't writing, she can usually be found prying strange objects from the jaws of one of her three pets. The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer is her first novel. You can visit her online at michellehodkin.com.
Top customer reviews
This book was really promising, and I had the highest of expectations. Alas, they were not met.
I am actually disappointed that I didn’t love this book, but other than the creep factor, which was very well done, it was hard for me to connect with the characters and the story was a tad confusing.
This book has more of a contemporary feel with some added paranormal elements, than a paranormal thriller. It’s the story of a girl who survived an awful accident and is now trying to put her life back together. She worries about school, grades, college resumes and boys, but her life is more complicated than any normal girl because of the paranormal sightings she’s having. She can see her dead friends everywhere, and can also see a person’s death before it happens. Sounds really cool, huh?
I would love if the story would’ve simply focused on the horrible things that were happening to Mara and trying to decipher what was going on. I loved that part, and the visions and trying to remember. Very well done! But there were some crazy subplots that deviated the attention to not so important things happening. Like Noah Shaw.
The only thing I like about that boy is his amazing library. He is a presumptuous jerk who thinks he is the biggest thing ever. I couldn’t get pass the fact he was the ultimate playboy and never really offered a reasonable explanation for his behaviour, so it was hard for me to understand why Mara liked him. He was supposedly charming, but I just couldn’t trust this guy.
There is also a confusing subplot involving a kidnapper, which didn’t bother me much but was somewhat confusing. It’s supposed to be there to give us some information, but that subplot was never tied up. Maybe we get to learn a bit more about it in the next books.
I did appreciate that Mara’s family was so close and caring. They showed the true signs of a committed and supporting family. I loved that her mum was so worried (she certainly had reasons to), and that her brothers were so sympathizing with her cause.
Overall, the main plot of this story was very good, and it definitely got me engaged with the story enough that I want to keep on reading this series. But the different subplots that surround the main plot were confusing and distracting, which lessened my enjoyment of this book.
Author: Michelle Hodkin
Publisher: Simon & Schuster BFYR, 2011
Genre: YA Paranormal
*This review can be found on my Blog, teacherofya dot Wordpress dot com*
When you do a Google search for this book, a lot of things come up. There seem to be huge fanbases of Mara Dyer. It's kind of incredible. Because after several years, people still love this series. They sport t-shirts that proclaim, "I survived the Mara Dyer trilogy." I now wonder what I got myself into.
But let's break down the book, yes? As you've seen fro the blurb, there's not much description given to tell you about the book. So that's what I'm here for.
In the beginning, we are told by "Mara" herself that the name "Mara Dyer" is a pseudonym, and she has received advice from council to use one. So right off the bat, we know we are going to have what's known as an "unreliable narrator." These narrators tell the story, but the facts and perception may not be the truth. At least I was warned.
Mara wakes up in a hospital with no memory of how she got there. Her parents tell her that there was an "accident" and a building collapsed on her and her friends. No one but Mara survived. And Mara doesn't remember why she was there or what happened. All she knows is that instantly she has lost her boyfriend Jude, her best friend Rachel, and Rachel's friend Claire. Maya has blackout moments, and her mother as a psychiatrist wants to commit her. Mara convinces her mom that simply moving away will help, because everything around her is a reminder. She knows that's not the issue, though. The problem seems to be that Mara is hallucinating, seeing Rachel's face in the mirror or Jude out of the corner of her eye.
Once moved, she and brother Daniel are enrolled into Croyster Academy, a private school in Miami, Florida; this is quite the change from her hometown of Laurelton, Rhode Island. On her first day she is drawn to a handsome boy with a devil-may-care attitude, and he seems genuinely drawn to Mara. However, she develops a friendship with a fellow student, Jamie, who warns her against Noah. Apparently the British eye-candy has quite a reputation at the school for love 'em and leave 'em relationships. Strange things makes her life even more awkward and difficult: she falls face-first onto the ground and bleeds all over the class. She sees a dog tied up and malnourished, but when she berates the owner and she starts to envision his death, he ends up looking just as Mara pictures, with his head carved in. She starts to wonder as she sees things and the people from her accident: can she even trust her own eyes? Did she even berate the dog owner?
Throughout all this, Noah pursues her, and though she pushes him away, she realizes she's been sketching his face in her book over and over. So maybe she likes Noah, but she refuses to be another notch on his bedpost. But when Noah helps her out of a jam, she is stuck owing him a date, and it appears Noah might be hiding some demons of his own. As the two draw closer, Mara starts to lose her grip on reality more and more, finally ending up on medication. But Mara is starting to remember the accident, slowly and in small chunks in her dreams. How did she survive? And should she really let Noah in, knowing that there are pieces of her past that have followed Mara to Florida?*
*I'm pretty sure you're just as confused as I was....but this is all I can give without spoilers. But I can assure you, this barely scratches the surface of Mara's story. You'll have to read to find out more.*
Is it Classroom-Appropriate?
That's a tricky question. It does address the symptoms and issues of mental illness, and the struggles the family goes through when one of the members is ill (though I'm not saying that Dyer is crazy...you'll just have to see!). It has a little swearing and a hint of intimacy, but I think certain ages are already used to these occurrences in media today. I would probably be able to comfortably present it to a Sophomore or higher level class. There's little academic value in the book, though, so it would be more likely to be a book recommended for outside reading than one in the classroom. (Not that the book is bad...it's just more of an entertaining read than a scholarly one).
Lexile.com rates it as HL600L, with an age range of 14-18 (and up, of course). I'd prefer and feel more comfortable with 15, but it also depends on the maturity of the reader. 600 is higher than many YA books, but still low enough to give to reluctant readers. The HL means "High-Low," which implies that younger readers would be able to comprehend the material but it is not necessarily appropriate for them.
READ IT. SERIOUSLY. I give it ★★★★★ easily. I read way into the night. Mara reminds me of Kestrel from The Winner's Curse, though, because of her stubborn ways and belief in self-sacrifice for the "greater good." She can be frustrating, but if one cannot trust their own mind, I would probably be frustrating, too. How can you know what's true and a lie when you can't tell if what you see is real? This is where my empathy for Mara comes in, and it will for you, too.
I hope I steered you in the right direction with this book. I myself am starting book two today, The Evolution of Mara Dyer. Too much of a cliffhanger to stop now! Happy reading, my book besties!
The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin is unsurprisingly, about Mara Dyer (allegedly not her real name), who undergoes a very traumatic experience at the beginning of the book, leading to the death of her best friend, her boyfriend, and his sister. She is the only survivor. Because of this, she picks up with her family and moves to a different location, and meets an intriguing boy at her new school, Noah Wade. Together, they attempt to uncover her dark and mysterious memories.
Sounds like a good premise, right? Hodkin does do a good job of creating a suspenseful atmosphere. Nothing makes sense to Mara, and nothing does to us either. We want to know what is going on. The book is well written, and the start definitely piqued my interest to continue reading.
Then the book just drags. We kind of suspect something else is going on with Mara, but it takes the whole book for the plot to get there and confirm our suspicions. Noah is kind of a creepy love interest-- sure, he's "hot" in the way Mara (and apparently the whole student body) thinks is hot (English, metrosexual, skinny with no muscle, but somehow can still beat up a huge jock?). But their interactions are very stereotypical: girl meets boy, boy likes girl, girl says she hates boy, boy laughs and says no way, then girl finally gives in. Not to mention, the "mean Queen Bee" of the piece is also her own chunk of stereotype with no extra dimension.
Overall, while the start was promising with a nice brooding mood to the novel, it ended up dragging and not holding my interest for the above problems.