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Bending the Spine

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Review: The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin

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.
Hardcover, 452 pages
Published September 27th 2011 by Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing
ISBN: 1442421762 (ISBN13: 9781442421769)
url: http://maradyer.com/
series: Mara Dyer #1
I have thought about this review all day.  Mostly because my emotional reaction to The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer is confusion.  Sheer and utter confusion.
Now, this is not to say that Mara Dyer is not a good book.  It is.  There is lots of good in there: good writing,  good mystery.  But that’s about it.  Mara Dyer is just good.  Barely average.  Parts were somewhat disjointed as though we were inside Mara's brain and the book was written the same as her thought process--like there were missing details, purposefully removed to add to the confusion.
The characters are shallow and thin as rice paper.  Mara is whiney and inconsistent.  Aiden and Anna were plastic copies of other evil stereotypical just-there-for-angst characters of many YA novels.  Noah was unrealistic and multiple-personalitied.  From chapter to chapter I just didn’t know who I was going to get.  Jamie was the only character who seemed to be thought through and remained himself.  And I liked him and Daniel the most of all the people in the book.
Torn between hating it and liking it with mild curiosity, I was left confused and vaguely disappointed. There were so many almosts, but nothing really developed or came to light in the some 400 pages.  Mara Dyer felt like a 400+ page introduction.  There was a major cliffhanger at the end.  Which is enough to have me put book 2 on my TBR.  I can't decide if I hate Hodkin or appreciate her cunning.
I don't know how I feel about it, except that confusion pretty much describes it.  Maybe that’s how we’re supposed to feel?
2 Trees: For all the hype, I was let down.

Get to reading,

*Update to this review: After seeing Hodkin at Yall Fest, I am even more intrigued than before about who Mara Dyer is.  Not that she lessened my confusion about the book, but peaked my interest even more for book 2.  She did not change my mind about my 2 Tree rating, however.*


  1. Hey there,
    Great, honest review. I don't really like being confused either when reading (especially if you still feel confused at the end. Blech). But there's just so much hype about this book. It's been in my TBR for a while; I'll probably end up giving in and getting it. I'm glad you were honest, though, b/c I'm not a fan of shallow/wishy washy characters. If I know that going in, maybe I won't be disappointed?
    Enjoyed your post,
    Ninja Girl

  2. @Ninja Girl: thank you for reading my review! I always try to remain honest and objective in my reviews. I look forward to seeing what you think of Mara Dyer!

  3. Thanks for such an honest review! I still want to read it - I'm really curious about the mystery! - but now I don't feel so antsy to get it ~now~. I'll definitely snatch it up if I happen to see it and have the money, but I probably won't worry anymore about going out of my way to get it.

  4. This is on my TBR but I just don't know...there was a huge post-BEA twitter storm that sort of turned me off to it...which is (I think) the opposite of what is supposed to happen. I felt like everyone who had the ARC's talked in inside jokes or something and I felt left out, like a kid in elementary or middle school. (I know that sounds whiny, but I'm making a valid point - hang with me here.)

    But what you're saying sort of supports that feeling too. So maybe it wasn't really an inside joke feeling I was getting, it was a general feeling that nobody else knew what the heck was going on either??? So, why then is everyone such a huge fan of such a confusing book?

    This makes me very curious, I admit. Curious enough that as soon as my library gets a copy, I'll get my greedy hands on it. Nothing peaks my interest like honest, mixed reviews.

    We'll see, one of these days!

  5. Oh, yeah, I almost forgot...I think I read something once about everyone's crazed and confused reactions making the publishers(?) or author(?) consider re-writing several parts of the book between the time the ARC's went out and the time the book was published...not editing, RE-WRITING. I don't remember where I read it, but I remember thinking "WHOA." - Big talk for all the buzz...

  6. @Colleen: Book Depository had it for just over $10 (and free shipping as always).

    @Asheley: Interesting about the rewrite. I hadn't heard that before!


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