Monday, September 26, 2011

BR: The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer

by Michelle Hodkin
Mara Dyer series; book I

Uhm… have you seen this book around?!?! And dude, it has one of the best countdown widgets I’ve ever seen (and probably the most popular one as well)

Summary (goodreads)

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.

My Expectations: extremely high. Like I expected fireworks and all that.
Delivery: I’m a sad panda, I was disappointed and highly annoyed.
Put-down-ability: Does setting down the book to eye-roll count? But other than that, the writing is engaging 3.5/10

My Thoughts

I think I started twitching every single time the word beautiful was used to describe Noah. Remember how everyone mocked Stephenie Meyer for “chagrin”, “granite/marble/whatever”, “velvet”, “topaz/yellow/golden/butterscotch/rainbow colored eyes” to describe Edward Cullen? Well, in The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer it’s “beautiful” and it’s one of those things that bugged me to no end. If I wasn’t twitching, I was eye-rolling or giving very heavy, exasperated sighs.

I don’t really know how to sort out my feelings but let’s just say, hypothetically, I split this book into 3 pieces. One piece is the mystery and the what-the-heck-is-going-on-with-Mara storyline. One piece is the subplots of school, family and all the woe-is-me that doesn’t fit into the second piece. The last piece is the romance storyline with Noah Shaw. And I was going to rate this.

WTF-ery + plot: 4.5/5
Subplots: 2.5/5
Noah/Mara romance: 1/5

So needless to say, I really, really enjoyed the bat-shit crazy stuff happening in this book and involving Mara. Okay, I’ll say it—the murders. Loved it, I loved how Hodkin created a tense atmosphere and the panic and the (sometimes too abundant) fade-to-black moments. It’s not really in the horror genre (I wonder why people say it is?) but anyways, it’s very well done. Every time something mildly ‘psychotic’ or just creepy happened, I was happy.

The sub-plots were average, though I will say the bright spots are her brother Daniel and her first friend at the cliché-boarding-school-with-cliché-blonde-antagonist, Jamie (and I was pretty upset when she didn’t even try to stick up for him in that one part.) I didn’t like the fact that there never really was a big climax at the end, or really any climaxes with the subplots. Things seemed to simmer then build a bit then… nothing much happens, the plot just moves on.

Oh then we move on to Noah. AGH. *headdesk* I’m SORRY but I just wasn’t a fan! Firstly, he just came off as too perfect. I strongly dislike perfect guys. It felt like the author was given a perfect-YA-boy-mold and spent three-quarters of the book sugar-coating his perfection (the constant mention of his appearance doesn’t help) and it’s just overdone. To me, he came off as hugely unrealistic, pushy (ie: “Have dinner with me” p116, ) and clingy (I will be with you every moment of every day forever and ever--paraphrased) and I hate pushy and clingy boys (in real life too!). At first, his whole ‘drop everything and start being the perfect guy’ annoyed me, but when it was explained (awesomely) I was glad. Every time he showed up I was just waiting for him to leave and for the Mara-mystery-plot to continue, though towards the last 50 pages, he did get a bit better. I get why people are swooning for him but he kind of drove me irrationally mental. I didn’t get much chemistry from Noah and Mara together, and I found Mara’s feelings really… clichéd. When she ‘declared’ her love for him, I audibly said “oh my god, shut UP” paired with excessive eye-rolling. It was unrealistic, I’ll be honest, it was the type of romance that I really don’t like and is far too common in the paranormal books I’ve read.

So yeah, I guess you can say my thoughts can be summed up by those 3 ratings above but also know that I actually had really high expectations going in to this book, which made it more of a disappointment than I think it would’ve been.

Rating in HP Terms: Acceptable
Recommended for: fans of paranormal-ish mystery! Actually, this one will probably be enjoyed by pretty much anyone—and it seems pretty much everyone will be reading this
Acknowledgements: I’m writing this review to late and I don’t have a copy :(

7.5/10 – because maybe I was hormonal or something but when I read it I just wasn’t a happy camper. A lot of little things grated my nerves and while the mystery and plot was extremely interesting, the romance just overwhelmed me. You ladies can have Noah, you’re welcome. I can definitely see the appeal of this book (and the boy) though, so I won’t hesitate recommending it to you guys.

source: publisher
author twitter / blog / website


  1. I'm totally with you on this one. I was expecting Mara to be EPIC, but it just kind of fizzled out :( I also think this is the type of book that REALLY doesn't need a romance. Half of the book I was just sitting going WTF, but I'll admit that the ending was pretty shocking.

    I'll still read the next one & hope that the romance is dialed down a notch.

  2. *Beautiful* review.

    Heh. Did I make you twitch?

    Yeah, I pretty much put this on the bottom of my TBR after reading Nic's review. But now it sounds like I need to just take it off because it would probably get on my nerves too. Must of been that dang widget that ruined it for us. Why did it have to be so...beautiful.

    Heh again.

    And really? "I will be with you every moment of every day forever and ever" Is this guy cloned from Edward?

  3. I hate how open everything was left, with all these questions and no real explanations. The first half or so of the book was so well done, and then it kept going downhill. I didn't mind Noah but I didn't really like him either. I don't see why people are going insane over him. Are we supposed to ignore the person he was at that school before Mara arrived or just pretend it doesn't exist? I dunno. :/

  4. Aww, I was hoping for the book to be AWESOME. Well, at least the mystery part holds up.

    I agree: I hate when fictional boys are TOO perfect. It just takes away the book every time.

  5. Okay. I almost did buy this book today.
    I can't help laughing....
    I didn't know it was a paranormal! I thought: creepy/twisty/contemp. =D
    Well...not going to buy it in the close future.

  6. I love how you split up the book and reviewed the different plots, Audrey :)

    I'm annoyed already and I haven't even read the book. I'm pretty sure this will be one of the super hyped books that is not meant for me.

  7. Yep~ Bloggers either HATE or LOVE this book... Frankly, if it's one of those stupidly unbearable romances, I'm probably not going to try it out =.=

  8. There has to be a new rating system that includes how many times you rolled your eyes while reading a book.

    I love your reviews; how you just put it out there and from reading it, it feels like you're talking to us, like friends. Awww.

    I'm commenting on this review because....

    Wait for it....

    A friend is lending me an ARC copy.

    I know. ME. Paranormal. Don't go together in the same sentence unless is: I don't read paranormal.



    So, while I don't plan to review it, I'll see what the big deal is about.

    I get the part about the love interest appearing too much on a book. That's why I didn't finish Perfect You by Elisabeth (?) Scott. Will was everywhere she was, even when she was out of school and you WANT to miss the love interest, so when he comes walking towards her, you'll get all happy. Not "Ugh. Here he is, AGAIN. Blah!"

    On a more...happier note. I been meaning to let you know that I've bought three books because of you. I know that when you say that to a blogger, they feel like they're done their job, so I just wanted to let you know about that. Which ones? Um, Ballads of Suburbia, which I'm having a hard time with; not that it's badly written or anything, because I get into it as soon as I pick it up but yeah... maybe sometimes you're not in the mood to read a certain book. The other two are A Little Wanting Song (!!!!!!! Graffiti Moon author !!!!!!) and Five Flavors of Dumb.

    Okay, this is a long comment! Erm...bye? (laughs)

  9. This is why I'm taking a break from Para. Unless they quit with the melodramatic stuff I'm just going to keep my distance. Plus it's always the same formula. Shame that this suffered from it too.

  10. oh dear I am not a huge fan of perfect boys, so I think I'll wait on buying it. Great review though, it made me laugh :)

  11. Wow. I do believe this is the first not glowlingly, obsessively positive review I have seen for this book. And, I'm kinda glad to see it. It makes me a little more interested in the book, but honestly- I've never been terribly interested. (Ashley is SO over the Paranormals that EVERYONE raves about)

  12. Can my review and your review be best buds? Like seriously. Stupid Noah, but amazing atmosphere.

    And look! Look!! ^^^ Somebody bought Five Flavors of Dumb! *dies of excitement* And I'm soooo eager for it to come out in paperback next week. Soooo eager. :D

  13. Oh no, and I was so looking forward to this! It's not a good sign when you can't wait for the love interest to leave. Thanks for the review, I'll still give this a go but now my expectations are a bit more... realistic.

  14. Oh, I really wanted this book to be great but most reviews I've read have had a lot of the same thoughts.

    Great review though, I might give this a go eventually but I'm in no rush!

  15. I'm finding this is a new peeve for me as well. Constantly describing the boys as beautiful or some other adjective to say how gorgeous they are rather than talking about their personality or developing an actual relationship.
    I have a feeling this isn't going to be a book for me. Thanks for the thoughtful review.

  16. Omigosh I recently reviewed this too and I feel the exact same way!!! Noah was so meh and the plot was so fragmented it was practically incoherent!!

    Awesome review, glad to see someone who agrees!!


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