Book Review: The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin made me read 459 pages in 3 hours. Which *wow*, it hurt my brain. Honestly I wasn’t expecting much from this book. It seemed like your typical 2010s YA starter book, with a sulky teenage girl MC and a badboy love interest. It took me months to convince myself to read this.

The book is about a girl, Mara Dyer, who suddenly loses her memory after an accident involving the death of her best friends and crush. After moving away to a Florida private school, that in my opinion reminds me way to much of Gilmore Girls’ “Chilton.” Mara is hounded by her classmates for catching the attention of British classmate, Noah Shaw. Honestly the author went all out with making him your stereotypical perfect bad boy who’s way too rich for his own good. It’s a bit trashy and cliché- but it’s fine because I’m trash for loving this stuff.

As Mara attends school paranormal activity begins happening. Random deaths appear and it seems Mara is at the center of it all. I won’t spoil anything but the plot was a 3.5/5 for me. It wasn’t horrible, but I barely remember any of it. However it was super easy to read through and wasn’t confusing or unrealistic.

This book is not deep in any sense but it does have some great qualities. Example one- NO LOVE TRIANGLE, FINALLY AN EARLY 2010s YA BOOK WITH ONE LOVE INTEREST. Example two- Noah Shaw… I know some people hate him because he’s kind of cliché, but leave me alone… I like Brits who have the “I hate everyone but you” trope. Example three- the main character wasn’t annoying. Usually characters in books like this are driven by impulse decisions that lead to annoyance. But this character was actually not spineless and naïve.

The one thing I was extremely disappointed by was the one-sided transparent side characters. The Jewish Black Bi Best friend, who’s name I forgot, felt like a token character rolled into someone who was only developed for the plot. The stereotypical blonde mean girl, who’s name I also don’t remember, is obsessed with Noah Shaw and ruining Mara’s life. It’s a bit annoying and I actually face palmed a few times while reading this. I don’t understand why the author would obsess over characters like Noah but make such bland side characters.

Now for my most controversial character, Noah Shaw. This man was obviously written to keep readers enticed. He’s written eye candy. From the moment we read about his charming London accent to speaking numerous languages and suggestive words. This man was built not just to flirt with Mara but to make the reader blush. Not to mention he has the face structure and body of a Greek god. It’s just unfair and unrealistic at that point. That being said, and wow I’m disappointed in myself. But Michelle Hodkin’s tactics worked because I loved him. Does he have flaws? Definitely. Is he so unrealistic it hurts? Yes and maybe I just have low standards so it doesn’t matter.

Overall this book is a 3.5/5 for plot. 2/5 for side characters. 4/5 for main character. 4/5 for Noah because I may or may not be in love with him. I recommend reading this book for fun. But trust me- you will gain absolutely nothing educational out of this. But you will waste about 4 hours and have a raging headache for lying on the couch in the same position all morning.

So yes, read it.

-Ashley Y.

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin is available for checkout at the Mission Viejo Library.

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