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Review: The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer

August 11, 2011

Title: The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer
Author: Michelle Hodkin
Publisher: Simon &  Schuster
Pages: 450
Release Date: September 27, 2011
Format: ARC, borrowed from Ginger 🙂

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.—Goodreads

When I first heard about this book, I was immediately clamoring to read it. I was obsessed with the title and the cover and that description—the combination of the three were just beckoning me to read it. And then some blogger friends got a hold of ARCs and they read it, and had very, very mixed reactions. While I’d love to say that others’ reactions to books don’t influence how I think about them, it just isn’t true. So I was a little nervous to read this.

Turns out, I had absolutely nothing to be nervous about.

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer is effing incredible. Michelle Hodkin is a writer after my own heart. The dialogue she writes is witty and snarky and sort of nerdy, but in a geek-chic sort of way, and her scene setting skills are faaaantastic. The woman can write suspense so intense that you end up holding your breath without realizing it (Seriously. I had problems breathing while reading this.) and then she can have you laughing your ass off. And her sexy scenes? Lord have mercy.

Which brings us to Noah Shaw. Noah is straight up sex: witty and charming and reckless and BRITISH-ACCENTED and not afraid of a fist fight. But he’s also the kind of guy who completely understands the sexually-charged thrall he holds over basically everyone, and somehow that makes him all that more attractive instead of insufferably douchey. In personality, he reminds me of Logan Ecolls from Veronica Mars, if Logan had a British accent. There’s no way I’m going to do Noah justice, so I’ll leave it at this—Noah Shaw is one of the most swoon-worthy YA males I’ve ever read.

But Noah isn’t the only well-written character: Hodkin introduces a very diverse cast, featuring characters you immediately love (Jamie!!) and those you hate with such a passion that you want to reach into the book and choke the bitches yourself. And it would be SATISFYING, lemme tell you. Suffice it to say, you’ll like them, even if you hate them.

While the characters are incredibly crafted, what really drives The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer is the shroud of mystery that hangs over the book and the eponymous Mara Dyer. While I loved loved loved my reading experience with this book, at no point did I necessarily feel like I had a perfect grasp on what was happening. In fact, on more than one occasion I had the inkling that I was in the midst of an Inception-style, multi-layered world.

But that doesn’t mean I ever felt confused. Hodkin weaves in enough intrigue, suspense, and what-the-effery to keep things feeling off-kilter, but not so much that I wanted to throw the book across the room and leave it there. My biggest hang-up while reading was that as I was nearing the end of the book I kept thinking “But I have soooo many questions! There’s no way I’m going to feel satisfied with the ending!”

And while it’s true that not all of my questions were answered, the book ends on a GINORMOUS cliffhanger that will make your head spin and your eyes bulge out. Now, normally I’m not a fan of the cliffhanger ending—I’m not a supremely patient lady, so I don’t enjoy waiting that year or so for the next book to be published. But this cliffhanger is strangely satisfying: it answers questions, but also opens up a whole other can of worms for you to process and discuss with others. *hint hint*

To illustrate the OH-HOLY-CEILING-CAT-WHAT-JUST-HAPPENEDness of the ending, here are my tweets from directly after I finished:

I love this book more than is probably healthy for a person to love a book. But I do not care.

Overall, The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer is one of the most satisfying books I’ve ever read. It’s wonderfully paced, features incredibly dynamic characters you want to spend more time with, and includes a plot that is so twisty and confusing and compelling that I couldn’t help but become completely, totally absorbed in it.

Now, while I can’t promise that you’ll share my enthusiasm for this book, what I can promise is that at the end, you’ll look like this:

And it is SO. WORTH. IT.

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