The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer written by Michelle Hodkin

07 Aug

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer (Mara Dyer, #1)

Rating: 4.5/5


My name is not Mara Dyer, but my lawyer told me I had to choose something. A pseudonym. A nom de plume, for all of us studying for the SATs. I know that having a fake name is strange, but trust me—it’s the most normal thing about my life right now. Even telling you this much probably isn’t smart. But without my big mouth, no one would know that a seventeen-year-old who likes Death Cab for Cutie was responsible for the murders. No one would know that somewhere out there is a B student with a body count. And it’s important that you know, so you’re not next. 

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.


First off, I really enjoyed this book. It is pretty dark, there is as much sexuality as there can be without anyone having an orgasm and there are some loose plot areas I would like to have seen done differently.  It’s been a while since a YA title has made me wish the car ride were longer s my reading wouldn’t be interrupted.

My really liking it will hopefully soothe the sting of what I feel I have to say next. Although there are no vampires or were-creatures, the relationship between Mara and Noah Shaw in much of the book bears a strong resemblance to that of Edward and Bella in Twilight. The first walk into school as a couple, that she is pretty but he is gorgeous, his family is über-rich and hers not poor but not uber-rich, the introduction to his family, him being able to get into her room at night.  Of course the fact that Twilight has entered our cultural subconscious; hence the title of this post. Really, what else can teens do than go to school, eat lunch, walk into school with their boy/girlfriend, be catty to each other, etc? I don’t believe it do be intentional.

I will say however that The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer is written much better than the entire Twilight Saga was. A few weeks ago I said Twilight was great, I enjoyed it but that it was jejune.  The prose in The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer is more sophisticated and the structure of the story is more cohesive and very suspenseful. Much like Chris Bohjalian’s Double Bind, the psycho-drama is a razor’s edge of suspense.  And, you won’t see the ending coming.

I mentioned sexuality.  This is as sexy as a book can be without actual sex. I was hoping they would break the sexual tension by having sex. There is some physical violence, some stupidly questionable (ie., teen) behavior. And I think fourteen and up is as young as I would want a child reading to b.  Sometimes those age suggestion are a bit like speed limits but without a ticket. Face it, kids today are faced with more sexuality and violence than that in a music video.

And, as much as I dislike book covers as trends in this instance there is a reason for the fully-clothed girl in the water with the boys arms around her. I assume it’s water, because it looks like buoyancy is involved.

My usual thing is to say read this book with your kid. This is no exception: survivor guilt, parental hovering resulting in more extreme behavior, feeling a need to hide behavior, relationships, etc. are all there—ripe and ready to be harvested for a bumper crop of communication.

Highly recommend to adults and mature teens.

BTW, I don’t really understand the reference to an attorney in the blurb unless it alludes to the next book.

-Kathy @SMBSLT


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