The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin

February 26th, 2014 Kimberly Review 102 Comments

26th Feb
The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin
The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer
by Michelle Hodkin
Series: Mara Dyer #1
Narrator: Christy Romano
Length: 9 hrs and 40 mins
Genres: Paranormal, Romance, Suspense
Source: Audible
Purchase*: Amazon | Audible *affiliate
Rating: One StarOne StarOne StarHalf a Star
Narration: 4 cups

Mara Dyer believes life can't 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 strangely 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 is the first novel in the Mara Dyer trilogy by Michelle Hodkin. The tale is a mystery and a romance with a paranormal twist. It has an unreliable narrator and was one heck of a crazy ride. Mini review: Twisted, dark, romantic, frustrating, and suspenseful. Hodkin delivered a pull your hair-out read that left me scratching my head and screaming for more.

Mara Dyer wakes from a coma to discover that her friends are dead. She has no memories of the night they died or why she remained unscathed. She begins to see them, on the street, in her mirror and in her sleep. She has difficulty adjusting and processing the loss. Her parents decide to move the family to Florida. Mara is trying to fit in while dealing with  hallucinations like changing hallways and dead people. She plans to keep her head down, and her mouth shut…but then in walks Noah Shaw. He is British, gorgeous, and trouble. The tale that unfolds kept me on edge as I tried to determine what was real, and who the players were. In the midst of all this crazy we watch a romance develop and it was the anchor of the story.

Mara reminds me of Bella. There I said it, so shoot me. She spoke and moved like her.  Maybe it was the narrator but yep, all I could see was Bella. She has a really tough time of it, and she is the perfect unreliable narrator. Even she doesn’t believe or trust herself. Mara is loyal, smart and surprisingly level headed. I found her to be incredibly brave, witty, desperate and friggin fascinating. Noah Shaw. What are you up too? Why the interest in the weird girl? Noah’s is a player, rich boy and at times feels entitled. He has a temper but he can be sweet, protective, and unsure. Noah has secrets and all the time he is wooing Mara I am wondering his end game but I liked him and oh crap did I just swoon? The Dyer family is present and involved which I appreciated and hallelujah professional help is involved. I adored Daniel her big brother, knight and protector. Joseph her younger brother made me laugh aloud. Jamie her first friend at school was an interesting character and helped add substance to what Mara stated as he provided information. Students at the school fell into cliches and added additional stress and drama to Mara’s fragile existence.

I am not sure if The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer was more mystery, suspense thriller or romance with paranormal elements. The tale goes back and forth between the two having me on edge one moment and swooning the next. Whom could I trust? What the heck is happening? Is Mara crazy? Mara begins to regain memories of the night her friends die and slowly we begin to understand, or at least I thought did. Noah is a curiosity and I enjoyed getting to know him. Between moments of uncertainty and disbelief we have a somewhat normal romance, and while I enjoyed the romance it also made me crazy because hello, WTH is happening? Hodkin kept me on the edge the entire time. When I thought I had things figured out she managed to keep me second guessing. Her writing style is descriptive, and she gave me a panoramic view of events as they unfolded. I could smell the swamp, feel the dampness in the abandoned building, taste Mara’s fear and visualize the dirt floor of the shed. The tale unwinds unevenly, giving us moments of frenzy and then dragging in parts. One minute it is a thriller and the next it was like I walked into the middle of a contemporary romance. In retrospect, I think the romance kept us grounded, it was the constant in the storm. The tale ends with a cliffy. It threw me so hard I actually went back and listened to the last two chapters again fearing I missed something.

Christy Romano did a great job as the narrator. She gave Mara and Noah their own unique voice. The only time I heard her break from character was in Mara’s bedroom when Noah revealed his secret. Mara’s monotone narrative  added to my sense of uncertainty.

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer was a bumpy and crazy ride that kept me guessing. I have no doubt I will see this series through and that Hodkin will be an author I visit again. The next book is The Evolution of Mara Dyer followed by the conclusion The Retribution of Mara Dyer scheduled to release in November of 2014.


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About Kimberly
Kimberly is a coffee loving book addict who reads and listens to fictional stories in all genres. Whovian, Ravenclaw, Howler and proud Nonna. She owns and manages Caffeinated PR. The coffee is always on and she is ready to chat. Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

102 Responses to “The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin”

  1. Stephanie

    I can’t WAIT for the third book mainly because I want to find out WTH is going on. I remember being so confused. In fact I worry that I’m going to have to have to re-read the series before the last release so I can have it clearly (or as clearly as possible) in mind when I start the third one.

    I hope you enjoy the second book a little more but I will say that it didn’t really clear up much of what was going on. 😉 Thanks for the great review. It refreshed my interest in the series.

    • kimbacaffeinate

      I am waiting for my audio credit this month to get book 2. and yep I wanna know WTH too Stephanie 🙂

  2. Michelle

    I’ve seen this book so many times and I’ve had a ton of people tell me to read it. It does sound pretty good and I kind of like that the main character could be crazy. It does worry that she sounds like Bella though, because that girl made me want to push over bookshelves. I’m glad you enjoyed it!

    • kimbacaffeinate

      She doesn’t get all man crazy it is more her mannerisms and tone that reminded me of Bella

  3. Candace

    You thought she sounded like Bella? Really? I guess it’s been awhile since I read those books but I didn’t get that while reading. Now I’m kind of curious and want to compare.
    I LOVE these books! The first was good, but the second one is even better because of the things that are revealed and stuff. I LOVED Noah. I know that some didn’t like him at at all, but I think he’s one of my all time favorite love interests. I just LOVE these books, I can’t wait for the third!

    Sorry, I got behind on my commenting and I’m not sure I’ll ever fully catch up- but I’m trying to do a little catching up anyway!

    • kimbacaffeinate

      I am excited about book two and will pick it up on audio this month.

  4. Tabitha the Pabkins

    It does sound from the description like it wouldn’t really have the fantasy elements that I usually enjoy so I’m not surprised you said it was light on the paranormal. Unfortunately, while I have it I doubt I’ll ever get to it at this point.

    • kimbacaffeinate

      I am told book two is even better, and I must say it is different and kept me guessing

  5. Alexa

    This book is one confusing book with a lot going on that the author doesn’t tell you about. It was an amazing book and I was literally screaming at the end with the cliffhanger. After reading this book I called my boyfriend and gushed to him about it and completely lost my poor mind for a few hours, I was certainly in a book coma.

    Thanks for the great review, I hope you enjoy the second book!

    • kimbacaffeinate

      that cliffy through me for a loop too Alexa, I am anxious to get the next audio book!

  6. Trish

    I love twisted and confusing so hard! I prefer to read series like this though when all the books are out or I get a bit frustrated. I need to know ASAP what the hell is going on and not wait impatiently for the next book!

    • kimbacaffeinate

      Last book comes out in November, I am going to continue with the audio versions.

  7. Mckenzie Reads

    Hi, Ms. Kimba! This is such a fantastic review — my mom has this one on her TBR, and we’re both excited for her to read it, though I’m a little worried to hear it drags in parts. Other than that, it sounds so intriguing! I love a story that keeps you guessing. I can’t wait to hear your thoughts on the rest of the series! Thank you so much for stopping by and leaving such a sweet comment on my post! *hugs*

    ~Mckenzie xxox

    • kimbacaffeinate

      Well hello Mckenzie this was creepy good and I hope you enjoy it. *hugs*

    • Michele

      I was all set to comment on this, and I see my kiddo already has! Haha! I agree with her, of course — this is a fantastic review. I’m a little nervous about some of the things you mention, but I’m still excited to get to this one. Thanks so much for the insightful review, Kimba 🙂

  8. Lindy

    Excellent Review Kim! I loved this story, and let me tell you, it just keeps getting better! I agree with you about the author giving us a panoramic view. I felt like I was in the story at times! While I know that the whole not knowing what is going on can be frustrating, it sure does add to the suspense, and needing to turn those pages! I’m glad that you enjoyed this one, and I hope you read the second book in this series!

    • kimbacaffeinate

      thanks Lindy and I did enjoy it despite some flaws and I cannot wait to try the next one 🙂

  9. Wendy Darling

    Oh, man. I have to admit I didn’t like this one very much, hah. I agree with the Bella Swan comparison, and I think I was mostly frustrated with her being so fixated on Noah! It really was a pretty addictively paced read, though, and it definitely keeps you guessing. I’m glad you enjoyed it, it’s always fun to find a new-to-you author to love!

    • kimbacaffeinate

      I really think the audio version added or enhanced this for me Wendy. Rumor has it that book two is darker and better.

  10. Naomi

    Oh wow!! This sounds pretty good!! The mystery surrounding the plot has me curious! I think I’d like to read this one and see what happened to Mara and what Noah’s secret is….. Thanks Kimberly *wink*

    Naomi @ Nomi’s Paranormal Palace

  11. kimberlybuggie

    Oh No! Bella!?! Well, I am going to try it anyway because I’m really interested in the book. And besides the Bella part, your review sounded like you liked it. 🙂
    I love the covers too.
    I’m a sucker for a good mysterious cover!

    • kimbacaffeinate

      She reminded me of Bella in the tone of her voice and mannerisms. No over the top stuff.

      • kimberlybuggie

        That’s good! I think Bella in the book was not AS annoying as Bella in the film! Sometimes I forget to separate them in my heaD! 🙂

        Great review! Can’t wait to hear what you think of the second one!

    • kimbacaffeinate

      Bella in her movement and voice not over the top drama I would die without him Bella. This tale is a complete mind f&*k.

  12. Melissa (Books and Things)

    LOL! I can see people getting upset at the Bella reference. Hey, they know the reference… so there! LOL Hm… not sure this is for me, but I am curious. Might have to try it on audio!

    • kimbacaffeinate

      I am so glad I went audio on this, I think it added a whole other element to the tale.

  13. Giselle

    HAHA omg I totally agree, dude, she is so Bella and he is so Edward! He even plays her piano or something in this, right? I wasn’t the biggest fan of this one. Like you said the genre was a bit all over the place and I was expecting a bigger mind-f*ck of a book but it was more romance oriented which was a downer for me. I did enjoy book 2 much more, though!

    • kimbacaffeinate

      Exactly, I wasn’t sure what was real and that cliffy is what has me buying the second audio. Dude you should hear the audio…totally Bella. I am glad to hear the second book was stronger for you.

  14. Asheley (

    This is a series that I haven’t started yet because I wanted to wait until it completes before I begin but I have seen so many varied opinions on it that I am really eager to see for myself what it’s all about! I love the covers – they’re sort of creepy and still kind of lovely. And I’ve seen the author speak about the series once and she managed to be delightful and fun yet not give away a single detail about the books. So I basically don’t know ANYTHING about these books at all, which I love. (:

    • kimbacaffeinate

      I am totally glad I listened to this and plan to pick up the second audio next month, it is lovely, and weird and crazy and creepy.

  15. Jessica

    OOh nice review! Just read another great review of the audio version prior to this one! For some reason, this one didn’t hit my radar when it first came out. Then suddenly I read a recent review on it and thought, okay, time to try this one out! So I ordered it and it will be arriving today at some point! Can’t wait to dive into this one, but all these cliffhangers are worrying me!! And the final book doesn’t release til November?! Yikes!

    But first, gotta make it through book 1, then I can jump on the oh-my-freaking-god-is-it-November-yet? train!

    Great review!

    • kimbacaffeinate

      I plan to pick up the second audio in April, glad you are reading/listening too. Enjoy Jessica!

  16. Heidi

    I was itching to read this one when it came out and then I didn’t because reviews were all over the place. I still am most curious about this, but I don’t have high hopes. I thought the trilogy was complete? I guess I still have time to read both books!

    • kimbacaffeinate

      Apparently book three was delayed till November, and this is unique Heidi, I am enjoying it and I’m anxious to see what the second audio is like.

  17. BornBookish

    I didn’t enjoy this one quite as much as you but that cliffhanger still gets me whenever I think about it! I wasn’t planning on continuing the series but maybe I’ll try the second audiobook because of the narrator. She used to be in one of my favorite TV shows growing up =)

    • kimbacaffeinate

      Yeah, I think the audio actually worked in the books favor, and yeah that cliffy still has me thinking!

    • kimbacaffeinate

      Yes I am still dizzy from it and like a child I want to go again..LOL

    • kimbacaffeinate

      hehehe..yes even the reviewer gave an unreliable review cause she isn’t sure what the heck is happening. I will say this, it engages you.

  18. Christine

    Bumpy & crazy ride is right — and one hell of an ending! I hadn’t thought to compare Mara to Bella, but I can kind of see it now that you’ve said it. I like Twilight though, faults and all, so it wouldn’t really bother me. The final Mara Dyer book was originally slated to come out in fall 2013, so I’ve been anxiously waiting for the conclusion!

    • kimbacaffeinate

      I was fine with Bella but the similarity struck me and it works for the delivery of this. I am anxious to start book two after that weird ending.

  19. Christa

    Mara is such a perfect example of an unreliable narrator. You can’t trust ANYTHING she says and the series only gets more dark and twisty with book 2

    • kimbacaffeinate

      Cool, it was a crazy ride and I am dizzy but anxious for more!

  20. Lupdilupt

    I was waiting for your review of this one, I’ve was intrigued by the cover and the blurb, but I’m kind of glad I didn’t get it right away. It stills sounds interesting to keep it on my wish list, but I better wait until I can get the next book.
    Thanks Kimba!

  21. kindlemom1

    Even though this has a lot of mixed reviews and seems a bit confusing to take in, I still really want to read it. There is just something about it I think I am going to love.

    • kimbacaffeinate

      Ali this was unique and as crazy as it made me at times I could not walk away and the ending..had me ordering the next audio. It was cray-cray.

  22. Lily B

    Interesting review. Kind of refreshing to hear a bit more about it since the only reviews I have seen was 4-5 stars and lots of raving about it.
    Heh sorry it felt a bit confusing to you about what it is, I think I would be huhing too

    • kimbacaffeinate

      Confusing yet I could not put it down. Excellent unreliable narrator, perhaps one of the best I have ever heard/read.

  23. Felicia the Geeky Blogger

    I have to laugh that you compared her character tone to Bella because a friend of mine said the same thing (I think she was referring to moody and edgy). It sounds like this would be a great fit for those that like coming to the age of independence stories.

    • kimbacaffeinate

      Not coming of age at all Felicia, this is more of an is she hallucinating or did she do these things type of read. Creepy, suspenseful, thriller with a romance weaved all around it.

      • Felicia S (The Geeky Blogger)

        I guess I thought it was a coming of age thriller. You are right after rereading your review it sounds darker. Trippy! I will have to ask my friend if that is what she meant by moody? All she would tell me is that I would find it a little too angsty of a suspense read. Which is probably the case but I think I still might see if I can land a copy for when I am n the mood to branch out.

  24. Nick

    Yeah, I thought Mara was a replica of Bella too. I actually think I preferred Bella to Mara.
    I read this book when it first came out and I really didn’t enjoy it. I was so confused half the time and the romance was not my kind of romance. See I like having a bit of mystery in my book, but I hate being confused.
    I’m glad you still liked it though, Kim.
    Great review!

    • kimbacaffeinate

      I kinda liked being unsure, and while I like both characters I am not fully vested in the romance but the ending has me listening to the next audio because I need some answers…LOL

  25. Jenea

    I think it was a little bit of both, thriller and paranormal. I haven’t read any past the first book, but I hope it does get better for you. I need to catch up. Great review.

    • kimbacaffeinate

      I am sticking with the audio and hope to listen to the next one in April..I need to know what the heck is happening..bwahaha!

  26. Mary

    I liked this story but not enough to continue with the series. Definitely a Bella vibe mostly because she didn’t seem to have much of a personality, to me. She was a great unreliable narrator, though.

    • kimbacaffeinate

      I am actually very glad I went audio for this even though I own the physical copy of book one. I need to know what is real and what isn’t. I have heard book two is stronger and even more twisted if you can imagine.

  27. Nyx

    I think what Kimba means when she says Mara makes her think of Bella is the monotone of the narrator. Mara is a very unreliable MC and while there are ups and downs the book mantains a very subdued constant feel to it. That’s not to say that YOU as the reader won’t feel anything, as Kimba said, she did swoon cause of Noah 😛 Noah is totally swoon worthy <3

    • kimbacaffeinate

      Exactly if anything as the reader my emotions were all over the place as I tried to grasp on to information and determine what was real and what wasn’t.

      • Nyx

        That grasping of information is even more difficult in the second book, but at least we do get some answers xD

  28. Jessica

    I read this back when it first came out, and I liked it, but, like you, I remember being WTH? a lot of the time: does her ability dictate what kind of person she is, or is it more flexible than that? GAH. And yet . . . I don’t think I’ll be able to keep myself from finishing the series when Book 3 finally comes out.

    • kimbacaffeinate

      Oh I need to continue because I have so many questions Jessica.

  29. Camilla

    Great review!
    I’ve been walking around this book for SO long now, because I absolutely love both the cover and title – before I even knew what it was about 🙂

    Like a few of the others, I’m a bit worried about the comparisons with Bella, as I found her SO annoying and the clichéd “I can’t do anything without my man”-type female characters. And I don’t need any romance to make me get all the feels for a book, but since you write about it so well “despite” those things, I think I will try and move it up the TBR mountain soon 😉

  30. Jeann

    I love the contemporary, thriller aspects of this book but I’m not a fan of the whole romance thing. Why does every YA book these days feel the need to slap the romance in as a necessity? Anyway, I’ll probably still read this one anyway. great review Kimba!

    • kimbacaffeinate

      It is unique and certainly one that engages the reader as we try to find a perch in this madness.

  31. Rashika

    Admittedly, I’ve been avoiding this one despite all the praise because the premise sounds quite similar to one of my all time favorite books. 🙁

    I am glad you enjoyed it though!

    Great Review, Kimba!! 🙂

    • Susan

      I won both books and decided to lend them to a friend..She is a bit confused as well but did like them..Maybe book 3 will tie it all up..

      • kimbacaffeinate

        Susan, I will say this as crazy as it is I am very intrigued by it all and want to know more 🙂

    • kimbacaffeinate

      Not the drama Bella, but the voice and movement of Bella. This is perhaps one of the best unreliable narrators I have ever encountered.

  32. Melliane

    I have seen this one a lot around but I can’t remember if it was good reviews or not… I’ll have to investigate. I confess I’m not that attracted by this one, mainly if she made yo think of Bella. I really have a problem with her and I didn’t reammy like the books. I think I’ll pass for this one but glad you had a good time overall.

    • kimbacaffeinate

      Thanks Melliane and just so we are clear, she moved and talked like Bella without the drama.

  33. Braine Talk Supe

    Bella?! LOL

    Hmm it sounds confusing with the genre cross overs but I do love a good riddle. Maybe the next one will provide more clarity (hopefully)

    • kimbacaffeinate

      I hope so because either this girl is completely cray-cray or in serious trouble.