Book Review: The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin

I am on tenterhooks and it is all because of Michelle Hodkin, or more specifically her debut novel The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer. After reading this, I feel like I have been put through the ringer. I literally inhaled this book over the course of two days.

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer, Book Cover, Michelle Hodkin

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer

The Unbecoming Of Mara Dyer is impossible to set down. I think the short chapters are a huge part of this book being an enabler. I found myself saying just one more chapter, this one is really short a whole lot, until I had flipped the last page.

Mara and family move from Rhode Island to Florida after Mara’s best friend Rachel, frenemy Claire, and boyfriend Jude sneak into an insane asylum which collapses and kills them dead. Of course, Mara has selective memory about this, she has a vague impression of what happened, but not the full details which are suppressed due to PTSD. As if that doesn’t suck enough, she has to navigate the halls of a new snobby private school. However, she doesn’t go it alone and falls in love with the most unlikely character, the womanizing Noah Shaw. We begin to unravel what happened to Mara in this suspenseful tale.

Ya’ll Mara is a girl after my own heart. She’s slightly nerdy, no seriously. However, she will also sass a teacher if the teacher isn’t being fair. I loved her witty comebacks to Noah. Yet, underneath her back talking beat a vulnerable heart. I’d say she deserves some cut slack because of the hand she’s been dealt.

However, I am on the fence about love interest Noah Shaw. I can’t decide if he is smarmy or a douchy. At first he is mean to Mara and jilts her around, but it’s played off as sexy, cause he is a player and all. I’m not sure I can get down with that. I mean, being a jerk is NOT HOT AT ALL. Really, I think I’d rather date a guy who is straight forward rather than one who is into mind games. Yet, there’s something a bit irresistible about Noah, especially during the more swoonworthy scenes. Just the words ‘They slander me.’ And um melt melt melt. Seriously, Hodkin writes sexual tension so thick you can slice it.


Okay, so some alligators show up and I’m all what the what? And let me just say, shit gets real. And crazy.

And my one rant about The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer is that the ending is a cliffhanger and completely unsatisfying. It irritated me that nothing was really resolved. When I finish a book, I expect some form of resolution, not sequel bait. Honestly if a few plot threads had been solved, I would have been satisfied. So, I’m going to come out and say the ending was a complete let down.

That stated, The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer is utterly absorbing, and I actually do recommend reading it, but with some reservations as you can see above.

Disclosure: Copy obtained at Book Blogger Convention.

Other Reviews:

Phoebe North
The Perpetual Page Turner

Pre-Order The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer here.*FYI I receive a small commission if you buy things from Amazon after clicking link. Proceeds used for upkeep of site

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April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.
About April (Books&Wine)

April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.


  1. ugh ugh ugh. I will seriously pick up and read just about any new YA release published as a stand alone…they are so rare. TOO rare. We seriously need to design some kind of stamp banner thing that says SEQUEL BAIT to put with our reviews.
    Although, alligators? I think I’ll have to read to see what that is about.
    as always, great review!

  2. From the few reviews I’ve read, I’m afraid this is going to be one of those hyped up YA books that will fall flat for me. Also, I LOVE the phrase “sequel bait”. I may have to use it.

    Thanks again for the always honest reviews! šŸ™‚

  3. I have been hearing a lot of stuff about how people weren’t happy with the cliffhanger ending. At least now I can go into it knowing what to expect. Although I generally still get hyped up and then let down. Oh and the alligators? Can’t wait to see what that’s all about. Jamie was talking about that the other day on Twitter and about how it was craziness!

  4. While I’ve read some gushy reviews in this one, I don’t remember anyone saying it had a cliffhanger. GAH! I truly dislike cliffhangers. It sounds great but I might wait until the next one’s out so I won’t throw the book across the room.
    “Sequel bait” *snort* Love it.
    Happy Reading!
    Mary @ Book Swarm

  5. This book looks absolutely fantastic! I am so excited to read it in the future!! Awesome review April!

  6. I have to read this book just to find out what the deal is what the alligators!

  7. I agree with you about the ending- I was hoping for some resolution, and while I totally didn’t see the ending coming, I was a bit annoyed. It seemed like a series of deliberate red herrings, and I didn’t feel as though I understood any better about what Mara or Noah are by the end. The romance was a bit contrived, but ultimately believable that they would be mutally attracted.

    • I did not even think about the red herrings, or rather, that term, but you are right. A lot of clues and then nothing that fully explained them. However, Hodkin said on twitter that she has a grand plan, so I am going to trust her.

  8. Ok, the cover had me at hello and all this talk of alligators had me hooked. Not sure if I want to read it as soon as it comes out or wait for the sequel. Also, I third (or fourth…I lost count) the “Sequel Bait” sticker…nothing like getting to the end of what you though was a stand-alone and finding a big cliff. Makes for angry (and addicted) readers.

  9. Yay for the sexual tension! I can’t wait to read this one! I need to know how crazy it really is! I will be afraid once the alligators show up! haha. Great review! and I understand wanting some resolution! Plus the next book is sooooooooooooooo far away

  10. i’m reading this one right now and i’m loving it so far, but i’m waiting for the alligators.
    did i tell you the first alligator i EVER saw was dead in the road on the way back from NYC and i was like omg what was that in the road and jennifer was all, oh that was an alligator, it was dead. and i was like COOL but no so much because it was dead.
    i literally have no idea why i just told you that. but it took me a while to type so i’m leaving it in and i guess i really should stop typing now xo

  11. I’m glad you liked it for the most past. As Holly said, I think this book might fall flat for me too because of all the hype. I have heard that a lot of people weren’t happy about the ending so it’s good to know what to expect.

  12. Ugh, jerkish is deifnitely not hot. Authors gotta learn that already! Also, I like at least a little bit of a solution as well. If it’s as if the book didn’t even end then what is the point of splitting it out – except of course to get more money. I think cliffhangers are fine to a point, but it has to be able to be read alone as well.

  13. Great review! I’ve been curious about this one for quite a while. The cover is really eye-catching, but thanks for the warning about the ending being so unresolved. I’ll keep it in mind for the future, once the sequel is released!

  14. Smarmy or douchey love interest of a slightly nerdy girl who is witty and sasses teachers for unfairness. I must read this book. I remember your tweets about the alligators. I will be looking for this book.

  15. Great review, April! I’m sorry to hear that this one has kind of a cliffhanger ending. I hate it when I feel like authors put those in solely to twist my emotions and not because it feels natural to the storyline. I”m looking forward to picking this one up!

  16. I haven’t seen such a detailed review on this one. I only know I want it. Now, I’m a bit disappointed about the ending. I don’t know why authors do that. They know we’re going to read the second book. Why leave everything hanging??? You are the first blogger I’ve ever seen use douchy in a review. I was discussing another word similar to that with my 14 yr old and why he shouldn’t use it in public. But sometimes, it just fits!


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