Review: THE UNBECOMING OF MARA DYER by Michelle Hodkin

Danya at A Tapestry of Words is in the final week of PSYCHTEMBER (Ignore the date; it extended into Oct!). Since THE UNBECOMING OF MARA DYER revolves around a teenager with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), I thought it appropriate to include in the event.

Check out my GUEST POST over at Danya’s blog for a more in-depth preview of MARA DYER…including some EXCERPTS to read. Oh yeah! :)

Author: Michelle Hodkin
Release Date: Out Now (Sept. 27, 2011)
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Received: Review Copy from Grace at Livre d’Amour/Final copy purchased myself


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.

THE UNBECOMING OF MARA DYER released this week and it is a psychological thriller that will screw with your mind. (Really, I felt it was more psychological than paranormal and that it was just slapped with that term for all the paranormal-lovers, but book two might prove me wrong…) It’s all sorts of crazy…and so is Mara. In fact, Mara isn’t really Mara. We know on page one that it’s a nom de plume. Something has happened…something tragic…something that will change the course of one teenager’s life…forever.

This novel is almost impossible to talk about; I’ve dreaded writing this review because I can’t convey all that this novel is. Only…it’s amazing. It will blow you away. Mark my words: This book is going to explode in a HUGE way and be a massive bestseller. Despite the fact that there ARE inconsistencies and a couple of plot holes (which might easily be tied up when the sequel drops in 2012), it’s so easy to overlook these and forgive author Michelle Hodkin everything. Her novel is riveting. Readers will be on the edge of their seats, dying to know more as the mystery surrounding Mara delves deeper and becomes darker and crazier.

I can’t say much about the summary because it’s one that you must experience for yourself, but I can say this:

The novel centers around Mara Dyer, a girl who wakes up in the hospital to find herself the only survivor in a tragic accident. She went with her best friend, boyfriend, and boyfriend’s sister into an abandoned mental asylum one night for thrills…and the building collapsed. Now suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), her family moves to Florida so that she can move on and become stable once more. Only, it’s impossible for her to cope. She continues hallucinating and having nightmares, seeing her dead friends everywhere they don’t belong. She thinks she’s going crazy, but has no one to turn to. She manages to make both friends and enemies at her new school and winds up in a love/hate romance with the hot but notorious playboy Noah Shaw. Deep down, he has a softer side. He cares about animals, and he’s actually smart—and well-read. He can quote LOLITA and when told he’s like the plague, spins the insult into a compliment and pretends he’s being compared to the classic novel THE PLAGUE by Albert Camus. Their relationship does have a few of the elements I tend to dislike in YA fiction, plus, Noah can be a bit cliché. At times, the extent of Mara’s colorful vocabulary took me back and pulled me out of the moment. All of this is so easy to overlook in the long run. The book is sensational and the ending…well, the ending is EXPLOSIVE. That’s all I can say. I wish book two was already available so I can KNOW ONCE AND FOR ALL WHAT HAPPENS ALREADY! Also, this is definitely a book for older teens and adults, both in terms of content and themes. But it’s absolutely worth a read…and I already want to re-read this one!


We're in the last week of PSYCHTEMBER, the monthly event running over at Danya’s A Tapestry of Words. I’ve done a second review of THE UNBECOMING OF MARA DYER focusing on PTSD and the hold it has on Mara Dyer today over on Danya’s blog. It gives more hints as to what’s going on in this novel, so be sure to check it out!


This is one of my favorite covers of 2011. It was love at first sight. I loved seeing the photo shoot earlier this year and the multiple images that were narrowed down to this one. The final cover is even more fantastic than I ever imagined possible…to the extent that I had to vlog its brilliance for you. When you turn the book towards the light, the water shimmers, murky green and full of depth. Is the male model lifting the female to safety…or pulling her down to drown? And there’s even a water scene in the book, so it’s not like this completely comes out of nowhere, either. The final type treatment has silver embossing, though I’m still fond of the transparent consistency shown on the ARC’s cover. I really like the font used on the spine that reads “Hodkin” and “Simon & Schuster,” as well as highlights certain words on the inside front flap.
Even though Mara looks beautiful on the outside, it’s what’s on the inside that counts, right? In this case, Mara is beautiful both inside and out! The font used for the nested letters at the start of each chapter is brilliant, especially the way the “t” in the very first chapter looks like a cross! I also love the way there’s a cross inside the zero when you get to chapters 10, 20, 30, etc. That same cross is also over the i in the word UNBECOMiNG on the front cover!!! Ahh, love!!!


[This entry is part of The Story Siren's Debut Author Challenge of 2011. See how I've done so far here.]


  1. I have about 30 pages left to go with Mara.. I didn't really like it at first - it sort of just seemed like your typical high school drama type stuff, I was a little bored. But a third of the way in I was hooked, then halfway I was addicted, now that I'm almost done I'm in love!

    I can't say exactly why, but I had an emotional reaction to this book. Every time I set it down I felt drawn back to it. It stays with you after you stop reading.. I almost thought I might start hallucinating myself.

    GREAT review.

  2. OMG! Explosive? Amazing? I seriously cannot freaking wait to read this book!!!!

  3. Ahhhh fantastic review, Bonnie!!! I have heard nothing but great things about this book, it sounds like one of THE best titles of 2011 and I'm itching with excitement to finally read it. I have a copy coming thanks to an amazing friend, so I'm currently stalking my mailbox for it to arrive haha.

    Can't wait to meet the delicious Noah Shaw and finally get some answers to this mystery!

  4. @Bethany: It took a bit to get into, but then it got so addictive and I just couldn't put it down. I was burning the midnight candle trying to finish this one! I know exactly what you mean!

    @Brunette: Totally explosive and amazing. See? This is why you need to cave and get it!

    @Brodie: It's really, really good! If it wasn't for the fact that are relationship aspects I don't like and one weird scene towards the end, this would have been a 2011 Best for me as well. But I still really, really liked it!


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