Book Review of The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin

Posted May 24, 2012 by Kara in Uncategorized / 23 Comments

Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Release Date: September 27th, 2011
Pages: 452 (Too Many)
Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal (not really paranormal)
Source: I own a hardcover of this book (sorry I spent the $)



Blurb: 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.


Review: Ayayayayay. Where to begin? For real, I don’t even know where to start with this review. I have 4 pages of notes and numerous Goodreads status updates. Okay. I didn’t hate the book. But I sure didn’t like it. Let me start with Mara Dyer herself as a character. There was not a THING to like about Mara Dyer. She was self-involved, whiny, and she was a slut-shamer of her fellow females. But most of all, the thing that annoyed me most about Mara Dyer was the way she swooned and lived her life for a man (boy) that was pretty much a douchenozzle. Protagonists that are completely unlikable usually turn me off a book immediately. And I saw that in Mara Dyer from practically the first page.


The club scene. Apparently when you wear revealing attire to a costume party, Mara Dyer thinks you are slut. Or a whore. Because wearing CLOTHES that you feel good in define how many men you sleep with. This is news to me, but whatever. First of all, that word should never be used, period. Just because a woman loves sex does not mean she should be labeled in a derogatory way. I was DISGUSTED. And then there was this girl that broke down and slept with a bunch of guys after Noah dumped her. And she was labeled by Mara’s token gay, Jewish, black, bff forever as a slut but then when Noah did the same thing, he was portrayed as a sex machine that all the girls were chasing after. UGH. I could say more about this but I think you get the picture.


The book begins with a letter from Mara Dyer to us, the readers. And you read on and on hoping to find out who Mara Dyer is, but the book never comes back to that letter. Not once. So the book begins fantastically and hooks the reader in a great way, but never comes full circle. This was a huge letdown. This was not the only story element that made no sense. There were alligators, a court case, a murder, a kidnapping, a stereotypical black and gay bff that fell off the face of the earth, and plenty of hallucinations that just all felt really disjointed. The story elements were tied loosely together and I just didn’t think it was really skilled writing. It plodded on and felt like a long hike to somewhere great, but there was no payoff once you reached your destination. There was a lot of telling, very little atmosphere and a lot of filler chapters that could have been left out. Not to mention the book was full of dialogue that was useless and never went anywhere. The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer ended up being a romance novel and everything else that was great about the story was pushed to the back burner.


I need to work in a quote about Noah and I don’t know where to put it, but then after I show you that quote we are going to talk about the cocky, arrogant Noah Shaw. The quote that follows is pretty much how he appears throughout the whole novel.


“So, he said, his eyes meeting mine again. “You’re a smuthound with daddy issues?” The corner of his mouth turned up in a slow, condescending smile. 


I wanted to smack it off his face. “Well, you’re quoting it. And incorrectly, by the way. So what does that make you?”


His half-smile morphed into a whole grin. “Oh, I’m definitely a smuthound with daddy issues.”


“I guess you nailed me, then.”


“Not yet.”


Okay. Is this what goes for attractive these days? Do girls actually fall for this garbage? Listen, confidence is attractive. Playing hard to get can be attractive. But being an arrogant prick that thinks he can bang every girl in a three mile radius is not attractive. And it never will be. I am sick AND tired of reading about these types of male love interests. The Edward Cullen effect. There were times in this book where Noah Shaw literally made me sick to my stomach. I was thirty seconds away from upchucking in a toilet. And the way Mara fawned over him and his prickish antics made me sicker than the antics themselves did. But then again, Mara Dyer wasn’t exactly a human being with a ton of integrity. The author just took the bad boy image too far. Every little thing that came out of Noah’s mouth was either cocky, arrogant, or very smartassish. I know that’s not a word and I don’t care. It was tiring. If I was dating Noah (not a chance in HELLLLL), I would have slapped him and knocked him into rush hour traffic after five minutes. He did get a little better as the story went on but I could not get over the fact that he was douchetacular for the first 100 pages. You cannot forget that. You just can’t. 


The actual plot of this book I enjoyed (sometimes), but because of the author’s views on women wearing skimpy clothing (sluts and whores)and her opinion on what kind of man is sexy (and Noah Shaw ain’t it), she made me lose interest and get angry. Sending the message to teenage girls that this is the type of romance that is something to aspire to is shameful. The only good thing about The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer was that it was compulsively readable. But I’m reading the next one. I need to know what happens, and if I hate it (probably will) at least there will be another entertaining review to come out of it.


23 responses to “Book Review of The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin

  1. I have to admit that I was really, really, really looking forward to this book last year mostly because of the gorgeous cover and the hype. Oh my goodness there was so much hype, probably due to the cover.

    I didn’t have a good idea of what the book was about but I read it and was thoroughly confused by so many things and I felt disappointed when I finished. Like you, I do want to read the second book to see if there’s an explanation for what happened in the first book.

  2. I felt the exact same way. I was reading this book in public and just started raging. I didn’t have paper so I started typing paragraphs on my iPhone about it.

    As a new blogger, I was terrified of not liking this book because so many of my favorite bloggers loved it. I walked in thinking it was going to be awesome, but it became the bane of mu existence.

    I was scared about writing a negative review about this book and their beloved Noah Shaw. They loved Noah Shaw. He was all anyone talked and while I expected him to be a little jerkish, he was really unlikeable. I was so glad to read Cute Bookshelf’s Goodreads review that pointed out the slut shaming. I didn’t know the word myself, but it summed up the book perfectly.

    The line you quoted was so awkward to me and felt like she was trying to hard, but I hated the part where a characters tells Mara he kissed Noah’s sister (because he liked her) so, Noah goes off and humiliates his siter to get back at him. WTF was that ? Are girls property now ?

    I was actually looking at Hodkin’s social networks to make sure we were supposed to like Noah. I was so confused. My question is, did Hodkin intentionally create these negative portrayal of women in her book ? Did not one person at Simon and Shuster not see this ?

    And I mean *SPOILER* . . . . if his job is to save her, why would he treat her so badly ? *END SPOILER*

    Will you read Evolution ? I may, but I won’t spend money on it.

    /rant over

    • Noah Shaw was a complete turd. I did think he got a LITTLE better toward the end, but not nearly enough to justify his ugly behavior from the first part of the book.

      Mara was obsessed with Noah. It was really unhealthy and quite a bit nauseating. And I agree with you that the portrayal of women should have been caught and altered by the editors. It was really offensive.

  3. Ah, I totally forgot about the horrible slut shaming. & it is so double-standard, because like you said, Noah is supposed to be this hot sex-god that has slept with everyone. He creeped me out with his sexual innuendos, but at times, he kind of was charming. It made me sort of conflicted. But then I remembered that he’s just rude, and got hardly any depth to him, and then I went back to disliking him 🙂

    I don’t think I realized just how many plot holes there were in this book until I read your review. Is this book available in audio? Goodness, imagine trying to listen to it! I’d be even more thoroughly confused!!

    But, I did sort of like the ending. It made me question everything that I had read, but it was also really frustrating. I would like to know what happens in the second book, but I don’t think I can handle reading it unless the author pulls way back on Noah’s character (which I doubt would happen) and has a stronger writing style. I think I’ll just wait and read the reviews, and get someone to explain to me what happens, haha.

    Great review Kara! Sorry you had to be frustrated with this one too. Hopefully your next read is more satisfying!!

    • Yes, it was a terrible double-standard. I really wish women thought higher of themselves. And as long as there are books like this out there (and the mindset as well), we will never be equal.

      I liked the ending but I didn’t love it. I liked it enough to read the next one. Overall, I just think this book was a hot mess. And thank you for your comment!

  4. Ems

    I haven’t picked this one up yet, because I’ve heard a lot of the same reactions around the blogosphere. It’s been sitting on my shelf for awhile now, and I’m toying with the idea of donating it to the library unread. I don’t like that it sounds completely judgmental like that. What a disservice to women everywhere.

    Thank you for an honest review!

    • You are welcome! I don’t like to put anyone off of reading a book; all I can do is offer my honest opinion. I can say that there were plenty who loved this book, I guess it just depends where you stand on the issues. It was not for me.

  5. Shoot, I have a copy of this book, but all the reviews I’ve read have turned me off reading it.

    I just have one question, though; the part where you said
    “the author’s views on women wearing skimpy clothing (sluts and whores)(…) made me lose interest and get angry.”
    but does what she write really reflect her own personal views? Or was Mara Dyer (or whoever was doing the slut-shaming) supposed to come across as a judgemental and double-standarded (I know it’s not a word) character?

    I mean, I don’t want to write about an evil character who happens to be gay, and then have people think I’m homophobic 🙁

    • I’m going to wait and respond to the rest of the comments tomorrow, but yours I will take right away because I want to get an answer to you ASAP.

      The book was written in 1st person. So it was Mara’s POV that slut-shamed these girls. I do not think the author was trying to portray Mara in a judgmental manner at all. Mara was supposed to be likable and a protagonist to look up to. But I thought Mara’s actions and thoughts were disgusting. Definitely not meant to come across as a fickle character. So that’s why I commented on the author in my review. I hope that answers your question. It’s all about HOW you portray your character. Mara didn’t learn any lessons from her gross behavior. She never admitted wrongdoing. It was just okay to say and do these things.

  6. Oh geez. I won a copy of this one, so I have to read it, but that’s going to be BIG fun. Oy. I can feel the rant building already, no joke.

    What the hell is that quote? I’m not bothered by swearing, that’s for damn sure, but that felt so incredibly rude and not okay. Ew.

    Mara and Noah sound like they deserve each other though.

    I HATE the double standard. Women are whores; men are sex machines. Also, you know what’s a completely disgusting phrase? ‘sex machine’ *barfs*

    • Christina, as long as you go into it reading it for the lulz and knowing what to expect, you will be fine. There are plenty more quotes like that in there. HA! LOL sorry about the usage of sex machine. I will take that into account in the future. 😉

  7. *sigh* I have this one on my e-reader and I was totally excited for it. Not so much anymore. I think Noah would drive me crazy so I probably won’t even pick it up. Thanks for the great review love!

    • Oh! You called me love! Right back atcha. Just read it for the lulz. Sometimes I read something that I know is probably going to be bad so I can at least have fun writing the review afterward. Case in point.

  8. Thank you for your dissection on Noah and the slut-shaming. I was pretty sure that I wouldn’t like Noah based on the quotes I saw people swooning over and I was right. I did like the twistiness of the beginning and the cliffhanger ending though; if only there had been less of Noah. I am very glad though that I didn’t buy this as I would not have wanted to keep it on my shelf.

    • I LOVED the beginning! If only the entire book would have been as entertaining as the beginning was! As for Noah, his behavior got a little more appropriate towards the halfway point. But he was just SUCH a prick in the beginning that it was too late for him to redeem himself. Thank you for your comment.

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